STUART Cameron and the “Weeds Project” received the Community Involvement Award, at the 23rd NSW Coastal Conference, in Ulladulla.
Stuart was nominated by Karen Joynes, on behalf of Bermagui Dune Care.
Karen, co-ordinator for the group, said the Weeds Project in the Bega Valley has had far reaching effects, and not just on the spread and extent of weeds on the Far South Coast.
Stuart was the instigator for the Weeds Project, which has now been running for eight years under a steering committee with financial support from NSW Environmental Trust, Local Land Services (previously Far South Coast Catchment Management Authority) and Bega Valley Shire Council, with National Parks and Wildlife Service and Crown Lands providing administrative support.
Twice a year, Stuart and members of the three Local Aboriginal Land Councils - Bega, Eden and Merrimans - walk every beach in Bega Valley Shire, removing weeds and litter.
This covers about 1000 hectares, focusing on sea spurge and beach daisy, and resulting in greatly reduced infestations.
"Bermagui Dune Care, and other coast care groups, have benefited from this, as where once we used all our energies on weed removal, we can now improve coastal biodiversity by planting in areas such as Cuttagee Point,” Karen said.
Other benefits of the project include some members of the work crews gaining full time employment in natural resource management.
The Koori work crews also work on sites around coastal settlements focusing on bitou, lantana, polygala and many other weeds, many of them 'garden escapes'.
The public has been educated about the role everyone can play, by not allowing 'garden escapes' and using native plants suitable for seaside gardens, through signage and open days.
Stuart also guides an abseiler, funded by NSW Crown Lands, to undertake weed control on cliffs, too dangerous for others to tackle.
Karen said that Stuart and the Weed Project were very deserving of the Annual Coastal Management Award for Community Involvement, as Stuart has brought together a variety of government agencies, coast care and local groups and Aboriginal communities to prioritise and protect vital coastal assets.
"Ongoing funding is crucial to the long term success of this vital project," Karen concluded.