These hard-working bush carers looking after our coastal areas as well as hinterland.
These hard-working bush carers looking after our coastal areas as well as hinterland. NICA

Bush care is preparing for new set of guidelines

BUSH care volunteer programs are unlikely to be expanded in the near future as Noosa Council looks to bring in new operational guidelines.

The council is looking to looks to limit the number of bush care working bees visits by its council officers to four a year to make its support of these hard working groups more manageable.

The Friday print report of the Noosa News said the working bees themselves would be limited to four a year, which is definitely not the case.

A council spokesman said these groups can hold as many working bees as they like and the couincil was only looking ways to better support these groups.

Councillors this week have discussed council's proposed community bushland care ahead of next Thursday's formal ordinary meeting vote.

Noosa's Bushland Care program has been a local partnership with the council and residents' groups since 2002.

A report to council said during the Sunshine Coast Regional Council amalgamation this was serviced by an external contractor and was run at a cost of $100,000 as well as the cost of a council overseer.

Council environmental services manager Craig Dolan said while this provided a high level of service for community bush care volunteers, the contract was not renewed after de-amalgamation. Instead, a community partnerships officer was appointed to assist the volunteer groups.

The proposed new guidelines will require the bushland care groups to produce a yearly work plan with at council visits to at least two working bees and no more than four to help with council's resourcing assessments. All applications for new groups or work site will have the final outcome decided by available resources and levels of support required.

"There is very little scope for expansion of the program without resourcing above what is already being sought in the 2018/19 budget,” Mr Dolan said.

There is a proposed budget request for $35,000, which would allow a temporary position for a council officer to work with these groups and attend working bees as outlined in the guideline.

Cr Ingrid Jackson suggested it might be to have a full-time bush care co-ordinator with council "expanding the opportunities for caring for our bushland”.

Mr Dolan said: "It's a valid point you raise. We have some demand but not massive demand for new bush care groups.

"A lot is community driven. We've generally found it doesn't work if you go to places and invite the community to come and get involved.

"We really look for local champions. So, it's people coming to us.”

Mr Dolan said he agreed whole-heartedly that over the next couple of years he would like to see a increased growth in bushland care.

"For the moment we're kind of taking it in small steps.”

"We're not getting swamped with demand, but we've got the program back to where it's steady and working quite well.”