The ‘Moolapio’ project is a partnership initiative between Greening Australia and Alcoa of Australia, and is initially focused on five hundred hectares of Alcoa’s land at Point Henry, Geelong. The site is an exciting and diverse range of landforms, including rare foreshore habitats to expansive saline and freshwater wetlands to agricultural land.
What's Happening at Moolapio?
The Gordon (TAFE) Conservation and Land Management students and the Moolapio Project
Each year Conservation and Land Management students from The Gordon utilize the Moolapio project as a resource for their studies and to gain valuable industry experience. The project site, and all it has to offer, is the perfect platform for education, as students are able to engage in vegetation studies, bird watching surveys, rehabilitation and restoration projects, Waterwatch activities, planting, community engagement events, and use the activities on offer to build their skills as well as log time towards their industry work experience.
All possible because of the varied and beautiful environment on Alcoa of Australia’s Point Henry 575 hectares of land that includes coastal saltmarsh, coastal alkaline scrub, shelterbelts, wildlife corridors, open tracks of farmland and coastal and freshwater wetlands to our 14 hectares of re-established grasslands and the project’s close proximity to Geelong.
This year Diploma in Conservation and Land Management students spent a day with Moolapio project staff understanding how the Moolapio project was formed, the land management aims and achievements. Of particular focus for the students throughout the session was how the land has been managed sustainably from an environmental improvement perspective. Land management actions such as removing weeds, controlling pest animals, and rehabilitating and revegetating areas around the Point Henry property were discussed as the students were toured through several revegetation sites.
Another day was spent with the Diploma in Conservation and Land Management students and our Moolapio rabbit and fox contractors engaged to manage these pest animal on the property. Rabbit and fox biology, behavior, control methods, legalities, community issues, and the Moolapio Integrated Pest Animal Management were discussed with the successes across Point Henry over time highlighted. The day was extremely practical day with students witnessing how a bait trail is laid, and how a rabbit burrow system is fumigated. A fox bait station was laid down by the contractor and students were able to see the entire process. Students also spent the afternoon in the freshwater wetland reviewing and identifying common weeds of the Point Henry area. The walk also provided opportunity for students to think about control methods and how to apply them in certain situations, particularly sensitive wetland sites.
Bupa Propagation Group and the Moolapio Project
Bupa Bellarine, a residential aged care facility in Geelong and the Alcoa of Australia partnership project, Moolapio have been working closely together since 2008. Each month residents from Bupa and Greening Australia staff work together propagating plants for use on the Alcoa of Australia Point Henry 575 hectare property at Geelong. The tiny seedlings are also used as part of the community engagement programme and are given away to community to encourage the use of local plants in their gardens. This Bupa Bellarine group have donated hundreds of hours of their time and propagated well over ten thousand plants.
At the end of each year the Moolapio project likes to celebrate Christmas with the Bupa Bellarine Propagation Group and to take time to spoil our dedicated group members as a way of thanking them for their hard work each throughout the year. Christmas last year was spent together at the Geelong Botanic Gardens with a visit from Santa’s two elves who looked remarkably like Candice and Lyn from Greening Australia! They came bearing gifts and kisses for each of the members. A walk around the acclaimed Children’s Garden to discuss the design and use of plants completed our party and rounded off a very happy and successful year for the group.
Rabbits on the decline at Point Henry
Greening Australia’s Lyn Willcock has been involved in conservation and land management for almost eight years and says it was only during a recent rabbit counting session at Alcoa of Australia and Greening Australia’s Moolapio Point Henry land that she truly comprehended the value of their ongoing rabbit control actions and working in an integrated manner with all your neighbors to reduce rabbit numbers.
One night in January, Greening Australia staff spent three hours driving around the entire 500 hectare Alcoa Point Henry site with their contractor counting rabbit numbers to assess whether baiting trails would need to be laid. This activity was also vital in assessing exactly where to lay the bait trails and how much bait was needed.
Only four small areas of the property required baiting compared to a large number of sites that were baited last year. Last year (and the past few years) neighboring properties were baited at the same time as Point Henry, with one site resulting in 500 poisoned rabbits being collected. The follow up spotlight count indicated no rabbits were seen on the property at site that were baited.
The Moolapio project has had an extensive rabbit control program in place since the project commenced in 2008. This program has involved summer baiting programs, warren destruction, harbor removal, and warren fumigation, and we have been working with the neighboring land holders and managers across the Point for the past few years – all ensuring that we conduct control activities at the same time.
In 2008, there were 120 active warrens on Alcoa’s land, and now due to the excellent work of Rod White and our contractor Ray Danks we have no active warrens and very few rabbits upon the property. Rod has worked hard to engage the surrounding landholders with great results. Elsewhere rabbit numbers are increasing, however, at Point Henry the numbers are surprisingly few. A direct result of integrated pest management and many years of control programs
Driving around the other evening and seeing so few numbers of rabbits when other areas in the region are experiencing a huge population increase is proof of the value in ongoing control activities and working together to reduce the problem.
Moolapio Grassland Discovery Days
Once again the Moolapio project has conducted two successful Grassland Field Days attracting interest from community and industry personnel to the 14 hectare site located on Alcoa land off Clifton Avenue. Each day supported over 50 visitors who walked and toured their way through the four established areas of the grassland.
The grasslands were in beautiful form with the wide variety of grasses and wildflowers blooming and seeding. The grassland supports a number of regionally threatened or endangered grass and wildflower species and Greening Australia’s work, as supported by Alcoa Point Henry, is vital in bringing an entire ecosystem back from the brink.
Many members of the community who participated in last year's Grassland Discovery Days were astounded at the evolution and growth in the grasslands.
Doctor Paul Gibson Roy, a senior Greening Australia Grassland Ecologist along with Rod White our Grassland Restoration Officer toured the groups through the grassland with assistance from Candice Parker and Lyn Willcock.
Moolapio Award Win
The Moolapio project won the 11th Victorian Coastal Award for Excellence, 2010 for Coastal Planning and Management presented by the Honourable Gavin Jennings, Minister for Environment and Climate Change. The award recognised excellence in developing and implementing a sustainable land management plan. The Moolapio project encompasses land management, revegetation, seed production and community education and awareness on the Alcoa site at Point Henry, Geelong, Victoria.
Alcoa’s Point Henry Operations Manager Stewart Esdale said the award was recognition for a partnership that is producing real results for the environment and community.
“Protecting and preserving the environment is a core element of Alcoa’s sustainability commitment and the Moolapio project is a fantastic example of Alcoa working with Greening Australia to engage the local community and improve the environmental landscape surrounding the smelter."
2011 Rio Tinto Earthwatch Citizen Science Awards
2011 Alcoa’s Global Impact Awards
- Runner Up
Moolapio was a Finalist in Alcoa’s Global Impact Awards in the Community category
2010 Victorian Coastal Awards
for Coastal Planning and Management - ‘The Moolapio Land Management Plan and its Implementation’
2010 United Nations World Environment Day Awards
Sustainability and Environment Biodiversity Award
2009 Society for Ecological Restoration International Prize
Australasia’s Top 25 Restoration Programs
2008 United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Award
Best Specific Environmental Initiative category