By Kirra Grimes

AN INNOVATIVE approach to environmental conservation continues to inspire and unite young people throughout South Gippsland and Bass Coast, with the local Gippsland Intrepid Landcare group going from strength to strength.
Established two years ago as a Landcare group run by and for 18-35 year olds in Gippsland, the group recently gathered at Foster to celebrate its second AGM, reflecting on a successful 12 months of conservation activities.
These have included removing the invasive weed sea spurge at Sandy Point; planting 6000 trees to revegetate farmland at Woolamai; and a beach clean-up at Phillip Island in conjunction with the Sea Shepherd group.
But it hasn’t all been hard work, with each outing also featuring fun complementary activities – such as surfing, ‘glamping,’ live music, guest speakers, and plenty of good food- to boost and reward youth participation.
The group also ran a photo competition recently, encouraging Gippsland youth to capture the essence of their favourite local landscapes, with the chance to have their submissions published in the ‘Gippslandia’ magazine.
Founding group member Kathleen Brack, the 2018 winner of Landcare’s national Young Leader Award, said the AGM was a great opportunity to celebrate the group’s achievements, and plan its next steps.
With last year’s activities largely based in coastal areas, Kathleen said the meeting’s discussions brought out interest in shifting the focus for the next 12 months to Gippsland’s hills and bushland, with ideas including an excursion combining mountain biking with weed mapping, as well as events focused on foraging for bush foods and edible weeds.
“We went through what worked and what didn’t last year, and what people were most interested in, and we were able to develop ideas from that, which we’re continuing to work on,” Kathleen said.
“Last year, reducing plastic pollution and cleaning up the beaches were definitely the main themes, so this year we’re wanting to explore some different areas, and food and foraging and different uses for weeds have come out as the things our members are interested in.”
Kathleen was encouraged to see new faces at the meeting, held at Gurneys Cidery overlooking Wilsons Prom, as the group’s financial membership base continues to climb (it sat at 60 at the last count).
She said the use of social media to promote events and share photos was proving to be an effective approach for the group, and encouraged anyone interested in finding out more about upcoming events to head to the ‘Gippsland Intrepid Landcare’ Facebook page or Instagram account.