Reducing Invasive Weeds in the Australian Alps

I recently finished a Hawkweed identification (for eradication by Parks Victoria) program near Falls Creek in the Bogong High Plains in Victoria. A stunning landscape…

It is a valuable program that has been running for over 10 years. These introduced flora have decimated land in NZ, Japan and North America. Basically they crowd out everything; Australia wants to make sure it does not get established here.

On the first night we had a training session on the identification of Hawkweeds and their impact on some countries. New Zealand (map below) is particularly affected, although Japan and North America are also impacted by this European weed.


Studies into seed dispersal have been published by Parks Victoria, and volunteer searches were based on these studies.

Our week of volunteering focused on Mouse-ear Hawkweed identification in areas previously discovered (see identification below). We walked in lines, tracking our movements, as we searched grid by grid for the week.

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Data tracking from 2007 has shown the positive impact of volunteers and staff, with an overall reduction of types of Hawkweed over the years. As you can see the Mouse-ear Hawkweed (MEHW) is a more recent find – discovered by a volunteer.


Bushfires in 2003 and 2006–07 killed various weeds but also promoted germination and negated the effect of previous control work. The recently released Greater Alpine National Parks Management Plan stated that in the face of climate change, invasive plants and animals are a main focus of future management. The management plan identifies eight strategies for environmental management:

  1. Feral horse control (identified as a major problem by the Invasive Species Council and related to weed spread).
  2. Deer control
  3. Targeted weed containment
  4. Fire management to protect and enhance ecosystems
  5. Responding to climate change
  6. Landscape-scale fox control
  7. Integrated work with all the Traditional Owners
  8. Benefits beyond boundaries — weeds and dogs.

During the Hawkweed identification program in the Alps, volunteers had time for walks, rides and bush camps.

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This is a unique ecosystem that requires ongoing management for conservation. For more information visit

If you want to volunteer in this conservation program, I highly recommend!


Sunset Mt McKay




Coastal Bird Conservation: Southern Victoria

We did a fantastic walk in the Kilcunda – Harmers Coastal Reserve along the Bass Coast. This is about 125 kilometres south-east of Melbourne. The Boonwurrung Aboriginal people are custodians of this coast –  Parks Victoria has details of the reserves and history.


We saw various locations along the coast that had perfect habitat for the Hooded Plover. It has a vulnerable conservation status in Victoria. Nationally it is also considered vulnerable and is critically endangered in New South Wales. My photo…


these guys move fast…great to watch, a better photo …

thinornis_rubricollis_-_orfordAlso known as the Hooded Dotterel

BirdLife Australia has been working on educating the public for many years and aims to raise awareness among beach users about many beach-nesting birds.


The organisations involved in this project are:

Also stayed for a few nights in the area – despite extensive land clearing there is a great variety of vegetation or Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVCs) in the area. Found this great map from the Bass Coast Shire Council. Beautiful spot in Victoria.


Cook Islands: Conservation and Caring for the Environment

Recently observed the wonderful work done by the Te Ipukarea Society on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. On my bike ride around the island I saw this great school competition to raise awareness of pollution and reef health.

Cook Island Enviro Message.JPG

The organisation does a number of projects around waste, biodiversity, sustainable development and educating youth:

If you go, it is located in the north-east of the island (not far from the markets). My wife and I stayed on an eco-retreat and donated to the organisation as part of our stay.


We also visited the Marine Research Centre on Aitutaki which is trying to repopulate native clams that are impacted by over-fishing (an ongoing issue) and the use of sunburn cream. Saw a local article about it how oxybenzone (mainly) has a negative effect on clam populations. Using a natural product would negate this. The centre is right next to the airport and on all maps. Such amazing colour!

Clams Cook Island.JPG

First blog post

Start of a blog – my interests in nature, conservation and how we manage the environment. Core interests are biodiversity and the oceans in particular. This is a continuation of my environmental management masters course and my years of secondary teaching (geography and environmental science)…..under development…