2012 Annual General Meeting Report – Peter Yates, President

When I became president last year, I spoke about the need to ‘cut our cloth’ appropriately in the year ahead and not take on any new projects if they entailed a lot of work. Everyone is busy these days and just running our normal maintenance working bees and coping with the usual myriad of “opportunities” seemed enough for our small group. It didn’t quite work out that way! As usual, we were tempted to bite off too much as grant opportunities rolled in and interesting projects loomed.

We have been blessed this year with the arrival of our new facilitator, Trevor Barker. Trevor has been a great support for the group and has found time to join in with many of our meetings and working bees as well as performing his administrative functions. So we thank Trevor and Jodie Odgers from NCCMA for their ongoing support during the year.

Thanks are also due to MRSC, especially Peter Jones and his crew at Parks and Gardens and Lachlan Milne from Environment. Often we are tempted to criticize the council, but these folk have always been there to help with advice, provision of physical support such as site preparation and the provision of financial assistance when needed.

In the second half of 2011 we conducted a series of forums to ascertain what the Woodend community thought about the management of Five Mile Creek and to also to ascertain the level of interest from people outside Landcare. There were some good ideas presented but in terms of finding people who were prepared to help implement those ideas, it all came back to Landcare again. The community does seem to see Woodend Landcare as the de-facto managers of the creek.

In terms of plantings, the last year has been relatively quiet with less than 1,000 plants added. We did conduct some plantings on the billabong below the scout hall with the help of a number of scouting families. We are planning further plantings in that location next autumn.

Last winter we also planted 21 exotic trees in the paddocks between Pyke Street and Bowen Street with financial help from Peter Jones at MRSC. One “Golden Poplar” turned out to be a “Green Poplar” so Mount William Advanced Tree Nursery has provided us with a free replacement and the new Golden Poplar has just been added to the collection. All the trees have thrived and our younger people can look forward to enjoying some beautiful ornamental shade trees. I particularly want to thank David Gossip and Peter Newell for their help with this project.

Our other planting was the “Trees for Mums” project on Mother’s Day. At very short notice, we managed to prepare a site, obtain plants and guards and contribute to this very successful event. More than 100 people planted about 150 plants for their Mums. Angela Van Dam was the coordinator of this project and we are now lucky enough to have Angela on our committee.

Of course we also ran our monthly working bee program along the creek and the Thursday Crew continued their good works in many other areas. Thanks to Stewart Olney, Barry Clarke and Bob Sullivan for coordinating and communicating on behalf of the “Crew”.  “The Crew” comprise a group of more than a dozen volunteers, mainly retired men and they have accomplished a lot of woody weed removal around Woodend as well as general tidying up and some plantings. To see an example of their work, look at the creek immediately below the carpark between the pool and the tennis club. There used to be many small to medium willows there which have now been removed, revealing a few remnant indigenous Leptospermums (Tea Trees). Landcare intends to plant this site with more indigenous shrubs to take the place of the weedy willows.

After the Xmas break, we ran a very successful stall at the Sustainable Living Festival. We also had a successful social barbeque at Urquhart Street, organized by Norma Aplin to recognize the efforts of local residents in that area, led by Brian Christie. These folk are maintaining and beautifying public land using their own resources. Landcare now assists this group with running costs.

As many people will know, Woodend hosts the only population of the endangered Black Gum (Eucalyptus aggregata) in Victoria. Anna Murphy from the DSE Threatened Species Group contacted Landcare seeking our help in surveying the surviving trees as part of the action plan to prevent their extinction. Anna also suggested that we might obtain funding to clean out more willows and plant more Black Gums under the Natural Disasters Environmental Recovery Project. We subsequently obtained a significant grant which will result in the removal of most of the remaining willows between Romsey Road and High Street and the planting this spring of another 800 indigenous plants along the creek. So we have Anna, who is now one of our members despite living in Castlemaine to thanks for this.

This year has also seen the start-up of our own blog. If you have a computer you can now find us at “woodendlandcare.wordpress.com” . You are also able to subscribe (no cost involved) to the blog and you will then receive email alerts about items of interest on the blog. You will not be swamped with emails by the way but it is a great way for people to stay in touch with our activities. Many thanks to Krista for setting up the blog and maintaining it.

We are keen to ensure we operate as safely as possible and I am talking about not only the personal safety of our volunteers, but also that of the public and of course the environment itself. To this end we have purchased a lot of safety equipment including helmets, ear protection, gloves and 2 pairs of chainsaw chaps. Henryka Benson also funded a sign to alert passers-by about works in progress. We are currently awaiting the outcome of another grant application, which if successful will allow us to purchase more protective equipment. We also organized two chainsaw safety training days which were expertly run by Luke Dam from Woodend SES. We hope to run other training courses for things like OH&S in the coming year. We carry insurance for volunteers working on Landcare approved activities, but avoiding an incident is always preferable. We have also managed to organize Agricultural Chemical Users training  for 4 members, 2 of whom have completed their courses.

So, in the immediate future, we will be busy cleaning up sites for the spring plantings and organizing the plantings themselves. We have a very messy site near Tennyson Street which will be a particular challenge.

I need to thank our committee for all their work during the year. Everyone has contributed where they could, but life is busy these days and as I have found, it is sometimes hard to keep the workload under control when tempting new projects come up. Jo and Kate especially have been great workers and have put up with daily communications for me without complaint. I also want to make special mention of John Newell’s work during the year. Despite now living in Kyneton, John rarely misses a working bee which includes the regular Thursday Crew events plus our monthly working bees. John’s tireless work is much appreciated. Unfortunately we are losing two valued committee members although I am sure they will continue to be involved as members.

At my election last year I stated that I was a “single term president”. At the moment, nobody else is prepared to take on this role, so I will carry on for one more term.  We really need to be looking at recruiting new members to share the load and specifically a new president next year. Nobody is indispensable, but if we lose a couple of executive members this time next year, there is the possibility that the group could fold and that would be a terrible shame. Please think about getting more involved. With only a few more active members, the workload would be quite reasonable.

I would like to welcome the incoming committee which comprises:

Jo Clancy                  Vice President

Linda Vale                 Secretary

Kate Daniel               Treasurer

David Gossip

Adam Barber

Krista Patterson-Majoor

Doug Dalgleish

Angela Van Dam

Immediately following the AGM, we were treated to a fascinating talk by local hydro-geologist, Barry Mann on the underground waters in our area which are so closely related to the surface waterways we are familiar with. Very entertaining and instructive. Much enjoyed and appreciated Barry.

In summary, we have had a very successful year and we plan to keep the momentum going. Our membership is steadily growing and now stands at more than 50.

Our main goals for the coming year are:

  • Put in place improvements to our training and OH&S procedures
  • Become incorporated in our own right so that we don’t have to rely on umbrella bodies
  • Attract more active members to share the load
  • Work with community groups such as scouts and schools
  • Complete the NDERP project  during Spring.

Peter Yates – President

August 2012