Creating healthier waterways on International Volunteer Day

Melbourne Water is celebrating International Volunteer Day, a global event that recognizes and appreciates volunteerism.

Melbourne Water appreciates the valuable contributions made by its volunteers throughout the Greater Melbourne region.

On Tuesday, 5 December 2023, Melbourne Water will celebrate International Volunteer Day. It is a global event recognising and appreciating volunteerism.

The Northern Yarra Landcare Network is just one example of many volunteer-led organisations that play a vital role in conserving and enhancing biodiversity in the Yarra Valley. The Network, supported by Melbourne Water, is dedicated to tackling woody weeds in the region.

Barry Kennedy is the Regional Landcare Coordinator for the Port Phillip and Westernport region at Melbourne Water. He said, “Through our partnership, Melbourne Water provides the Northern Yarra Landcare Network with the tools and resources they need to promote sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation in their communities.”

The Yarra Valley wine region is known for its natural beauty. The area is surrounded by 40m high eucalyptus viminalis (Manna Gum) and eucalyptus obliqua (Messmate) trees. Wineries, distilleries, breweries, and fine dining restaurants can be found in this region.

A devastating event almost 15 years ago changed the face of the Yarra Valley. In February 2009, fires ravaged the region, destroying homes, sheds, paddocks, and vineyards and claiming dozens of lives. Over 150 hectares of vines and numerous wineries were destroyed.

According to Northern Yarra Landcare Network Facilitator Rob Fallon, “Our patch was the only area spared total destruction by the devastating fires, as the wind shifted direction late in the day.”

International Volunteer Day can help the community

During Black Saturday’s 15th anniversary, reflecting on lessons learned and the importance of being prepared for a dry and hot summer season is essential. “Despite adversity, the Yarra Valley community is rebuilding stronger than ever,” added Fallon.

Blackberries and woody weeds threaten wine growers and landowners because of their rapid growth and spread after Black Saturday. In the Yarra region, the Northern Yarra Landcare Network is managing weeds with goats rather than chemicals with the help of the local community.

By partnering with landowners, the Northern Yarra Landcare Network is collaborating with them to reduce the use of harmful chemicals and to create a greener, more sustainable Yarra region.

Fallon said, “Our efforts to maintain healthy ecosystems are made possible by goats’ natural ability to graze and digest blackberries and woody weeds. By minimising the use of harmful chemicals, landowners can maintain healthy ecosystems.”

“Waterways and the habitats of animals and vegetation can be destroyed if weeds are left unchecked,” said Kennedy.

As part of our Healthy Waterways Strategy 2018, Melbourne Water constantly cares for rivers, creeks, and surrounding land. People can expect healthier waterways by carefully managing targeted weeds, which are part of a reserve system that maintains habitat for our unique and diverse wildlife and our way of life today and in the future.

Melbourne Water partners with a network of dedicated volunteer groups and volunteers around Greater Melbourne who provide invaluable effort to create healthy waterways and implement sustainable land use approaches.

“Their ongoing efforts and hard work are greatly appreciated,” added Kennedy.

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