Working closely with the community on fire preparation is reaping rewards for biodiversity in the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve.

Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) has been working closely with the Friends of the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve over the past four years on fire preparation and fuel management in the reserve.

The Ocean Grove Nature Reserve protects the last remaining stand of original woodland on the Bellarine Peninsula and is a haven for native plants and animals.

Collaboration between FFMVic and the Friends has ensured the environmental group’s values have been incorporated in the fuel reduction program.

This has included a shift to using more mechanical fuel reduction strategies, including mulching, to complement planned burning.

The fuel reduction program aims to promote an open grassy forest structure within the reserve that preferences native grasses, orchids and wildflowers, and allows the Bellarine Yellow Gum to reach its full potential, by managing over-crowding and competition.

Large old trees provide valuable habitat for birds, arboreal mammals and a host of other critters important for the ecosystem.

An open grassy forest also allows for planned burning to be completed at different times of the year, creating a patchwork of fuel reduced areas across the reserve.

This results in a mosaic of burnt and unburnt areas, providing a diverse range of habitat to support a variety of plants and wildlife.

It has resulted in several plant species, including seedlings of the threatened Bellarine Yellow Gum being recorded within the reserve for the first time in years.

The collaboration has also allowed the Friends to work with FFMVic to ensure particular trees or vegetation of note in the reserve are maintained and has also extended to FFMVic supporting the Friends with removing weeds from the site.

The collaboration has resulted in better outcomes for the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve, balancing fuel management with maintaining the woodland environment.

Quotes attributable to FFMVic Otways District Manager David Roberts:

“We’ve been working closely with the Friends of the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve to ensure we strike the right balance between reducing the risk of fire to community while maintaining and restoring the reserve’s important environmental values.”

“By working together to plan our mulching and burning program, we have seen biodiversity in this important reserve flourish.”

Quote attributable to Friends of the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve President Peter Sullivan:

“We’ve seen really positive results in recent years with more diversity in the ground flora than we were seeing prior, as the burns open up the canopies and let in more sunlight.”

Mulching at Ocean Grove