October 31, 2022

Trained Field Officers from the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the Conservation Ecology Centre to hold a Phytophthora Dieback Vehicle Hygiene Demonstration Session led by expert ecologist Dr Mark Garkaklis.

Dr Mark Garkaklis demonstrated how to deliver an effective light vehicle washdown to minimise the spread of Phytophthora cinnamomi from one site to another.

Field Officers from all agencies work in Dieback infected areas of the Otways like the Carlisle Heath and Anglesea Heath. This hygiene demonstration provided education on Dieback and how it spreads as well as a demonstration on how Field Officers can wash down their vehicles to prevent the spread of Dieback.

Automobiles are one of the major causes of Phytophthora Dieback spread that is killing native plants in bushlands in Victoria. Wheel arches, side-steps, mud flaps and mounts on bull bars easily capture the mud that carries this devastating disease.

Dr Mark Garkaklis said the important issue for all of us using a four-wheel drive is to know your own vehicle. This includes our emergency management teams.

“Every vehicle is slightly different, so the drivers need to look closely at their vehicle to identify these ‘catch points’. Cleaning these with a pressure hose at the washdown station or even the local car wash is the key to reducing the risk of transmitting the disease throughout the state,” continued Dr Garkaklis.

“Delivering these washdown demonstrations and these simple key messages to our forest fire management teams is so rewarding for me,” said Dr Garkaklis.

“Our emergency responders need to react quickly to help keep us safe, saving a few minutes and more effectively completing vehicle washdowns allows them to quickly mobilise in response to emergencies that threaten the safety of the community, be it bushfire or flood,” concluded Dr Garkaklis.

The Phytophthora Dieback Management sub-project delivered under the Australian Government’s Wild Otways Initiative is just one of the many sub-projects that local agencies are collaborating on to streamline knowledge sharing and problem solving so that best practice management of the Otways can be achieved.

The Australian Government’s Wild Otways Initiative, 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.

Corangamite CMA’s Jessica Miller, Manager of Environmental Programs said, “Agencies are communicating and working together to use resources efficiently and exchange knowledge, leading to mutual benefits for researchers and agency staff. This means successful management actions can be implemented as soon as research findings are made”.

This project is funded by the Australian Government.

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