If you're walking through Elwood Park late at night you may hear a click-whir and be blinded by a flash of light! Fear not, locals of Port Phillip Bay and its surrounds ... you are not having a heavenly revelation. Most likely scenario is you've bagged yourself a Gio, a strange nocturnal animal of the homo sapiens variety who travels throughout our urban wilds recording with his camera, and learning for the sheer love of biodiversity! He then passes these learnings on to locals via family activities, nature-walks, professional development workshops, and the like.
So it comes as no surprise that the EcoCentre's award-winning Youth WildLife Ambassador, Gio Fitzpatrick has bagged a big one in the form of the United Nations Association of Australia Environment Award (individual category). You can read more about his big win in the Sunday Herald.
Extra News on the Awards Front: The EcoCentre (and Gio) are also proud finalists in the Keep Victoria Beautiful Sustainable Cities Awards:
• Clean Beach/Waterways Baykeeper Catchment Education & Winter By the Waves
• Environmental Sustainability Well Waters Workbees: Elster Creek Pilot
• Young Leaders Gio Fitzpatrick, Youth Wildlife Ambassador
OUR CHIEF SPEAKS: Waterkeeper Alliance
Warning: Be careful starting your holiday with the Waterkeeper Alliance Conference… This annual gathering of Waterkeepers is so utterly invigorating it's impossible to sit still afterwards! Can't stop paging through my sketched notes and reflecting on our EcoCentre's role in the efforts of protecting global waters. < April with Sharif Jamil of Waterkeepers Bangladesh
The international Waterkeeper Alliance connects over 290 Waterkeeper organisations who protect waterways around the world. This year we gathered in Cape Fear River, North Carolina, USA (very conveniently close in place and timing to my little sister's wedding). By day, Waterkeepers shared tactics to tackle water quality and quantity issues around the world. By night we shared stories, dance floors, music and beer - brewed with local waters of course!
I was humbled in the company of friends whose lives and families are actively threatened for being the voice of their ecosystem, and for holding polluters accountable. I was inspired by enormous victories for fishable, swimmable, drinkable water - despite direct threats and challenges like the ill-designed and aging drainage infrastructure of cities built in the 1800s (hello Melbourne!). I was reminded that as Australians campaign to phase out destructive practices like coal-fired power and massive dams, we must ensure they are not simply re-located under guise as "economic development" to countries with less legislative protection - like the watersheds of Bangladesh, Bahamas, Senegal, Colombia, China. Meanwhile, our voices can offer brother and sister Waterkeepers leverage and protection. Your gift todaycan help Port Phillip Baykeeper lead local action!
This month we hear from our Litter Hotspots Project Manager Nikki Kowalczyk on what sparks her passion. Nikki writes:
Litter, particularly plastic litter is a massive economic, human health, aesthetic and environmental problem. Many environmental studies have identified the impacts of plastic ingestion on large marine dwellers such as turtles, seabirds and fish. Yet microplastics (pieces of plastic <5mm) are just as damaging to our fauna. They can be mistaken as food and consumed leading to starvation. Additionally, microplastics can absorb persistent bioaccumulative and toxic compounds (PBT) from seawater, which include persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and metals. Once organisms ingest the microplastics the pollutants are also absorbed and transferred up the foodchain.
The EcoCentre has been involved in monitoring microplastics in the Maribyrnong and Yarra Rivers by trawling waters with fine mesh manta nets as part of the Turn Off the Tap program. Recently I sorted through a small trawl sample as a way to estimate the abundance, distribution and composition of microplastics in our rivers. The dried sample weighed no more than 30g. Once the leaves and organic material were removed from the sample I could see a multi-coloured mixture of microplastics. They were everywhere! Nurdles, styrofoam beads, hot pink, red, and silver bits of plastic. At times it was impossible to tell if bits were plastic or organic matter. No wonder our freshwater and marine organisms are consuming these plastics at an alarming rate. What’s more is that these are plastics that can be seen with the naked eye. No doubt there are hundreds of microscopic particles floating around as well.
Shortly after sorting the sample I was very happy to see that Nina Springle, the Greens Member of the Legislative Council for South Eastern Metropolitan Region, has put together a bill that plans to ban plastic bags, microbeads and excessive plastic packaging in Victoria. This will no doubt minimise the volume of microplastics entering out waters. It is so important for us to get behind the bill. Sign the petition and get involved here: http://plasticfreesea.com.au/
A Little Bit of Litter ... Really Matters
The EcoCentre’s Captain Trash has tirelessly been strumming up community action to care for Port Phillip Bay. This winter, he’s joining forces with MOOP (Matter Out of Place) Patrol and MC Guttermouth in the fight against litter under the Litter Hotspots Program.
Captain Trash, MOOP Officers Tait and Jones, and MC Guttermouth are working on a hip-hop song titled ‘A Little Bit Of Litter Doesn’t Matter’ to raise awareness about the consequences of littering. The catchy melody and persuasive lyrics will make an impression on young and older audiences alike. If you would like to support their cause check out this facebook page and donate to the Pozible Crowdfunding campaign that will be launched on the 1st of August. The song will be released mid-August 2016. Stay Tuned!
SPOTLIGHT ON AFFILIATES: Australian Landcare International
The EcoCentre acts as an 'umbrella group' providing support to smaller like-minded organisations so that we all achieve more. This month we focus on our affiliate Australian Landcare International (ALI). Find more info on affiliate membership here.
Australian Landcare International is an inclusive, not-for-profit group that encourages a landcare approach to the natural environment beyond Australia (land, water, biodiversity, community, carbon). So at a recent social night at the EcoCentre we were delighted to hear the resoundingly positive message from young ALI member Clinton Muller, just returned from four years working for a Nairobi-based NGO, that "Landcare is a great Australian export." Clinton described how Landcare has evolved uniquely in East African countries such as DRC, Tanzania and Uganda. ALI has built partnerships and funded grassroots projects in all these countries, and has now been invited to play a hands-on role in a farming–marketing project in Uganda and Zambia, run by international agroforestry organisations with funding from the Australian federal government. To see what else we've been up to globally, and how you can support the Landcare tide improving food security, land degradation and community empowerment overseas, visit our website or Facebook page.(Note: FREE membership for students and under-25s!)
Happy Molluscs, Happy Beach
All beaches are not created equal ... Middle Park Beach is one of the most vulnerable beaches for coastal erosion in the Northern Port Phillip Bay area. On June 28 we ran a Citizen Science event at this beach teaching locals how to monitor coastal erosion. We discovered one species of mollusc (the Elongated Wedge-Shell) is quite abundant despite the recent re-nourishment of the beach with sand pumped from offshore. Why does this matter? What does it mean?
Neil the Baykeeper shares that scientists wonder if re-nourishment has any detrimental effects on intertidal mollusc populations. Yet the Elongated Wedge-Shell was more abundant in June than during our profiling in February (both happened after the re-nourishment). We're tentatively glad that it seems like molluscs are thriving! Happy molluscs, happy beach.
It should be noted that this particular mollusc species has a a high resistance to disturbance, so more study is needed. If you want to learn more about why "happy molluscs = happy beach" be sure to come to our next Citizen Science beach profiling activity. These are fun for all the family, young kids on up. You'll perform important scientific work that the EcoCentre uses to advocate for our local beaches. Have fun while keeping our beaches happy. Because happy beach = happy community.
See you on the beach!
Be the Re-Generation
Every Sunday in July, 4:00pm at St Kilda Pier, Pier Rd ST KILDA
Young people (15–25 years) are invited to join our Be the RE-Generation Project to help tackle global environmental issues on a local level. The RE-Gen crew will learn about marine habitats and communicate issues through creative arts. Find out more and book here.
Elwood Poetry Prize 2016 (Theme "Beach")
Entries accepted until Thursday 11 August
Fancy yourself a poet and you know it? Read up on our 7th Annual Elwood Poetry Prize (put on in conjunction with City of Port Phillip) and download an entry form here.
TEN Teacher Professional Development
Wednesday 17 August, 4:00-5:30pm at Beaumaris Primary School, Dalgetty Rd
Topic is Waste Not, Want Not: An exploration of our needs and wants and what to do with our waste. This professional development session will assist in the design of lessons around understanding waste and its impacts, and will showcase how one primary school has implemented strategies successfully. Appropriate for Primary, Secondary and Early Learning Teachers. FREE but please RSVP - just email firstname.lastname@example.org including your dietary needs and learning goal.
Sustainable Schools Festival
Friday 9 September, 9:30am-2:30pm at St Kilda Town Hall & Port Phillip EcoCentre
A fantastic day filled with 'Kids Teaching Kids' workshops (sponsored by Cities of Port Phillip, Bayside & Stonnington), awards and fun. Find out more and book here.
Saturday 24 September, 3:30-7:30pm at EcoCentre, 55A Blessington St ST KILDA
Join us for the EcoArts Festival, a community festival to connect with nature, create art, and share stories and ideas! Make sure you see the spectacle of Illuminate 2030, a roaming projection work that will explore different future climate scenarios for the City of Port Phillip. Bookmark the date. Find out more here.
Love Our Street 3184 - Double Feature: Our Bay, Treasures & Truths Tuesday 19 July, 6:30pm at Phoenix Theatre Elwood College Love Our Street 3184 is playing a double feature film of Baykeepers and Melbourne Down Under. These are short marine documentaries by local filmmakers that will connect you to our beautiful Bay! Tickets are $5 with proceeds going to Beach Patrol Australia and Love Our Street. Light refreshments will be available to purchase. Book with Jill via her email at email@example.com.
Earthsong - Annual Symposium: "Celebrating the Life of Insects" Friday 22 July 7:30pm and Saturday 23 July 10:00am at The Treacy Centre
It’s Earthsong's most important event of the year, and a wonderful opportunity to explore the weird, wonderful and absolutely extraordinary insect species that have reigned over our planet for millions of years. Our explorations will cover science, art and music in an Australian context. Find out more including booking details here.
3182 Beach Patrol - Second Saturday of each month, 9:00am Next Event is Saturday 13 August, 9:00am at West Beach Bathers Pavilion 3182 Beach Patrol looks after the St Kilda Beaches, from Fraser Street to St Kilda Marina. These are some of the busiest beaches on Port Phillip Bay and capture a lot of litter from the Yarra River and large drains that empty onto the beach and due to the presence of the Harbour and Marina. We clean a given section of the beach for an hour and then have a well earned coffee at one of the beach side cafes. Gloves, collection bags and litter pickers are provided but by all means bring your own. More details here.
Saturday 24 September, Lead-up plus varying times from 2:00-7:30pm at EcoCentre
Our EcoCentre is excited to be hosting an EcoArts Festival. We're after volunteers who would like to get involved in various roles in the lead up and on the day including: Safety Marshals, Welcome Desk, Nature Walks (to the EcoCentre from another location), Fire Observer, Workshop Helpers, General Helpers. Please email expressions of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
EcoCentre Community Garden
Regularly on a weekly basis or Fridays with the Team
Our Community Garden is looking for regular volunteers who can donate 5+ hours a week for at least 4 months duration. Our garden is a shared edible community garden maintained by garden-lovers. It is also an education garden on sustainable planting.
Our garden is a shared edible community garden maintained by garden-lovers. It is also an education garden on sustainable planting. We focus on growing heirloom varieties, soil creation, propagation and seed-saving, companion planting, and organic methods.
Our gardeners enjoy being involved in community spirit, learning and practising gardening skills, harvesting and eating healthy and indigenous foods, the health benefits of gardening in nature, and leading the way in community food security.
Are you up for the challenge? Contact Anthony on email@example.com to discuss your availability, and for more information.