Four landholders, who have engaged in the North East Blackberry Action Group (NEBAG) program for several years and adjoin an 80-acre patch of forest at Walwa, are involved in a cooperative public land management pilot program. Read about the project in the latest issue of the VBT News.
The Victorian Blackberry Taskforce (VBT) is committed to working with communities and partner agencies to reduce the growth and spread of blackberry in Victoria. The objectives of the Victorian Blackberry Strategy are very clear and identify education, collaboration and innovation as the basis for achieving a sustained reduction in the areas of productive land and natural areas affected by blackberry.
The Case Studies featured demonstrate the determination of communities and individual landholders, in a range of circumstances, to find a way of tackling blackberry to reclaim and restore land.
The Case Studies are presented in publication form with an accompanying set of six video clips corresponding to the six written case studies. These videos focus on social, economic and environmental outcomes at a community and individual level. Also included are 4 additional videos on blackberry management themes.
The collaborative approach highlighted in the studies demonstrates the value of the support offered by the VBT through various avenues. This enables people to access and use best practice information in order to implement the most appropriate management plan for their particular situation.
Each Case Study is an inspiration to those who have yet to start their journey to bring blackberry under control and use the recovered land for productive or conservation purposes. The participants demonstrate that no matter how difficult or daunting the task, having a goal and support is the key to success.
This project is funded through the Established Pest Animals and Weeds initiative, part of the Australian Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the government’s plan for stronger farmers and a stronger economy.
The Case Studies publication and videos can be viewed on the VBT website – Resources page.
As the blackberry action program is a grass roots program embedded within and run by community, it offers a unique approach to dealing with blackberry. Support to initiate control and/or reinvigorate landholders’ enthusiasm towards ongoing management is the key.
Why has this been so successful and what are the best ways to engage with landholders ?
We asked Danielle Cleland, Project Officer with the North East Blackberry Action Group, her thoughts. ‘The Project Officer (following the program designed by the Committee) is the direct contact person for your landholders.
‘From my experience it works well if the Project Officer is not someone directly involved within the community (so as to avoid any perception of bias or personal conflict). A good project officer who is able to relate to people easily, be open to different situations and provide an unbiased point of support will quickly engage landholders. The ability to build relationships with people, starting where they want to start (blackberry in this case), is a critical skill. As the reasons for unmanaged blackberry are complex, understanding ‘why’ is necessary in order to proceed with a negotiated management plan.’
‘First, establish that weeds are the responsibility of the landholder, understand why the blackberry infestation is out of control then negotiate a plan.’
Read more “Tips For A Successful Blackberry Program’ in the latest edition of the VBTNews – May 2015.
By Shane O’Laughlin, Victorian Blackberry Taskforce Representative
The Friends of Barkers Creek Group held the first community meeting at Harcourt on 28th June. The attendance was great. There are already 17 land owners signed to weed management plans and after hearing and seeing the expectation in the hall the community is taking to the VBT model like a duck to water. What started as a modest weed plan to control Blackberries, Gorse and other weeds in their creek has developed into a creek restoration and asset protection plan. During the evening the audience broke into three smaller groups according to where they lived along the creek line and nominated the features of the water way that they considered important, Michael Luke is sorting the information and is working towards making a plan that starts at the permanent Spring on Mt Barker an finishes at the junction of Forrest, Campbell and Barkers creeks near the middle of Castlemaine. This is a locally owned, developed and implemented action plan that came from a hopeful aspiration 12 months ago thanks to the support from the Victorian Blackberry and Gorse Taskforces.
Image – Shane O’Lauglin, VBT North Central representative, discuss the Barkers Creek project with Shane Herbertson, DPI Gorse Executive Officer, prior to the community meeting.