Mitta 2 Murray Blackberry Action Group

BLACKBERRY ACTION AND BIOCONTROL: Report to Mitta Valley Landcare AGM 2018

unnamedMVLG is a member group of the Mitta to Murray Blackberry Action Group, a network of local Landcare Groups and business and government partners. Our representatives on this network are currently Doris Razeng (Secretary of the Group), Bob Kendall and Glenda Turnbull. In addition, many of our members are participants in the Blackberry Action program.

This year our program continued on 170 private properties covering a cumulative 39,500 ha of land. Over 8,000 ha of blackberry had been treated at the last M2MBAG report and this continues to increase although due to funding limitations and time pressures, no new properties were recruited. We have a waiting list and expect that to change for the coming year.

NSW Landcare & LLS Conference – Albury

I took our message about Blackberry to the conference. We displayed a poster, and I had a 20 minute slot in the speaker program. Our message thus travelling far and wide.

Tallangatta Expo

MVLG was a major partner with M2MBAG in presenting a Landcare pavilion at the Tallangatta Expo in April. Other participating groups included Bryants Gap, Talgarno-Wyses Creek, Bethanga and Kiewa Valley. Our Project Officer Paula Sheehan also brought along display material from the Holbrook Landcare Network. Environmental management and biological control were key themes – invasive weed, dung beetle, soil health and native ecology displays attracted many visitors. Most people who visited the Expo had a look at our pavilion. A lot of valuable networking went on and a very positive relationship with Tallangatta Rotary Club has begun. As an added bonus, our show is now on its way to the Henty Field Days, where it will receive even broader exposure.

Blackberry Biocontrol Research:

M2MBAG is partnering with Ag Vic, CSIRO, MLA, NECMA and Biocontrol Victoria in a very exciting project to identify insects that live on blackberry and may be suitable biological control agents in Australia. Dr Raelene Kwong and Franz Mahr have recently returned from a research trip to Europe with very positive results. An educational video has been prepared and a preview is available to be shown at our AGM. We hope this will help us attract more support and funding for the program.

As a partner in this initiative, M2MBAG has committed to fund tFranz’s travel costs for this trip which were just under $3,000. We have so far paid to him contributions of $1500 raised from M2MBAG, Bryants Gap and Mitta Valley Landcare Groups. We are continuing fundraising for the balance; any money that is over-subscribed once Franz’s account is covered will be applied to support further biological control research activities.

And finally, The Best Good News!

Just recently, we have been offered a grant of just over $48,000 from the National Landcare Smart Farms program. Whilst this is yet to be confirmed with contracts, we hope the grant will help us to continue and extend our blackberry and invasive control program to more participants and communities, including within the Mitta to Murray Landcare region, and to the Benambra/Omeo/Dinner Plains area.  By allowing for more project officer time, it will also help us adopt a more holistic approach within the program to tackling

In summary, this has been a remarkable year for us, and one in which unique opportunities for the future have emerged.

Doris Razeng, Secretary

Mitta to Murray Blackberry Action Group

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