August 12, 2022

A unique partnership between the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has resulted in positive outcomes for the environment through the research and adaptive management being undertaken in the Wild Otways Initiative.

The Australian Government’s Wild Otways Initiative (WOI), managed by the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, is a $6M collaborative research and land management program with multiple partner organisations and agencies in the Otways region.

The project area encompasses the entire Otways landscape – Bells Beach / Ironbark Basin west to Port Campbell – incorporating some private land, but primarily the public land estate under management by Parks Victoria and DELWP: nominally the Great Otway National Park and Otway Forest Park.

At the beginning of the three-year project, an agreement was made to work with the key land management agencies by embedding two dedicated WOI project officers within Parks Victoria and DELWP.

This collaborative arrangement has ensured effectiveness and efficiency in working towards achieving project goals. In addition, it has streamlined knowledge sharing and problem-solving across the agencies and with the researchers in the field.

The research and applied management projects cover areas such as feral animal control, small mammals surveys, Phytophthora mapping, management and control, fox and cat management in planned burn landscapes and Rewilding – creating conditions for reintroducing species that have disappeared from a landscape.

Applying research across a landscape requires collaboration and coordination – in the case of feral pigs and deer, the animals move in the landscape, and control strategies must be implemented across the National Park and Forest Park to be effective.

This means that all the agencies need to communicate and work together to use resources efficiently and exchange knowledge, leading to mutual benefits for researchers and agency staff. Successful management actions can be implemented as soon as research findings are made.

District Manager – West Coast, Dale Antonysen says the partnership will have a lasting legacy through the relationships and understandings formed and mutual benefits achieved for the environment.

Corangamite CMA’s Jessica Miller, Manager of Environmental Programs (Otways, Surf Coast and Bellarine) said, “The research has improved our management of feral animals such as pigs and deer. In addition, it has given an insight into the small mammal populations in the Great Otway National Park and given us tools and strategies for tackling Phytophthora dieback in our region”.

This project is supported by the Corangamite CMA, through funding from the Australian Government.

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