Nestlé Community Vegetation Project
The Nestle Community Vegetation Project (NCVP) is a three year joint collaboration project between Nestle Smithtown factory and Kempsey Shire Council. The objective of the NCVP is to restore a once heavily weed invested and degraded section of the Lower Macleay River bank, by planting over 4000 endemic rainforest trees and shrubs comprising some 50 different species.
In addition, approximately 460m of meandering asphalt walkway was also included in the project to allow community pedestrian access through the rehabilitation site. The project has been designed to facilitate and increase environmental awareness, provide opportunities for educational activities (ie school excursions) and enhance the social amenity of the adjoining reserve and public boat ramp. The NVCP is considered the first collaborative attempt to address environmental rehabilitation between local government and the corporate sector in the Lower Macleay river area. The NCVP has also been supported by Rotary Club, South West Rocks, Macleay Valley Community Catchment Care Group and Conservation Volunteers Australia and Greening Australia.
Approximately 1000 native rainforest trees and shrubs were planted by community members on a community working-bee in 2006, bringing the total to 4000 trees and shrubs planted since the commencement of the project. In addition, 300m of rock wall protection was positioned that included the construction of vegetation fillets to assist in mangrove establishment and over 300 cubic metres of mulch was purchased and spread over the 2006 calendar year.
|Figure 1 - Project Location (Macleay River)||Figure 2 - Project Design Plan|
|Figure 3 - Weed infestation of site before commencement of NCVP||Figure 4 - Adjoining Recreational Area|
As the project site is adjacent to a very picturesque location on the Macleay River and also adjoins and complements an existing recreational area there has been a significant increase in community usage and enjoyment of the area by both local and transient visitors.
|Figure 5 - Site (Stage 3) being rotary hoed.||Figure 6 - Site (Stage 3) being prepared for planting.|
|Figure 7 - Mulch being spread over Stage area by conservation volunteers.||Figure 8 - Mulch spread reading for planting.|
|Figure 9 - Community working bee (Stage 3) tree planting||Figure 10 - Community working bee (Stage 3) tree planting|
|Figure 11 - Rock Protection Wall||Figure 12 - Vegetation Fillets|
Project outcomes including specific benefits on the local environment and community
Outcome 1: Restoration of riverbank through planting riparian rainforest vegetation (Stage 3 - 2006)
The Stage 3 component of the project covers an area of approximately 0.40ha. Prior to planting exotic/introduced weeds growing on the ground and introduced vines growing in the native trees that were retained on the site were cleared. Once all weeds were cleared a local contractor was hired to rotary hoe and prepare the site in and effort to make planting the trees a less arduous task for the community working-bee. A total of 1000 endemic rainforest trees and scrubs comprising of over 45 native species were planted. Approximately 300 cubic meters of wood chip mulch was spread over the site to assist in weed control and moist loss from the soil.
Approximately 300m of rock bank protection wall constructed to address and remediate river bank erosion problems associated with the site. In addition, two (2) rock fillet walls were also constructed in accordance with the NSW Department of natural Resources recommendations to assist in the re-establishment of native marine type vegetation (ie mangrove & rushes).
Outcome 2: Park bench installation
As a component of the NVCP four (4) park benches were positioned at locations along the constructed walkway for the enjoyment and use of visiting public. The benches were positioned at strategic locations to supplement the educational and scenic amenities of the site.
|Figures 13 and 14 - Park benches positioned along NCVP walkway|
Outcome 3: Partnership development
The success of the project to-date is fundamentally as a result of forging and perpetuating a successful and harmonious partnership between Nestle Smithtown factory and Kempsey Shire Council to address a serious environmental issue in the local area. Both organisations have been equally involved and committed to ensuring successful and sustainable project outcomes. The alliance and collaboration developed as a result of the NCVP has fostered the opportunity for both organisations to work together on future environmental projects.
In addition to the partnership between Nestle, Smithtown and Council, the project has enabled other organisations to become involve and contribute. For example, Conservation Volunteers Australia and Greening Australia. Currently, a CVA Green Reserve ‘work for dole’ crew is assisting with general maintenance such as weeding, spraying mulching and general up keep on a weekly basis.
|Figure 15 - Conservation Volunteer Australia members, Nestle and Council representatives at the NCVP site.|
The successful partnership and working relationships developed between Nestle and Council during the 3 year undertaking of the NCVP, has resulted in organisations committing to undertake and develop another riverbank restoration near the Smithtown Factory. This situation can only result in positive outcomes for all concerned and foremost the environment.
A measure of the success of the NCVP was a Certificate of Commendation received after nomination in the 2005 NSW Landcare Local Government Community Partnership Awards. To further evaluate the success of the project, in late 2006 the site was nominated for another Landcare Award by the Macleay Valley Landcare Group.
Outcome 5: Learning opportunities
A number of learning opportunities resulted from the NCVP in relation to both project management and on-ground application perspectives.
From the project management view the working interaction/collaboration and requirements of and between local government and corporate bodies can sometime differ. The NCVP has provided a good opportunity for the Project Management team a gain a good understanding of how to work collaboratively with both the public and private sectors.
In regard to the on-ground work application, very important lessons have been learnt from the NCVP. Undertaking the project in stages has assisted in identifying and dealing site specific issues such as weed management, young tree development (ie watering) and the effects of both extreme temperatures and high rainfall events. These lessons were then incorporated into the planning and on-ground works components of the following stages.
Important lessons were learnt of the value to the project of having regular and timely meetings between the project partners. These meeting allowed an ability to provide regular up-dates and progress reports as well as an opportunity to discuss relevant matters pertaining to the project (ie timeframes and budgets). These meeting also provided a mechanism for on-going project review, evaluation and reporting.
Probably one of the most important lessons learnt, was the management and responsibilities inherited to the project development team when utilising volunteer workers and the general public. It can be difficult to estimate or plan how much can be achieved or expected to be achieved when the tasks are fundamentally dependent on volunteer labour. Coordinators only really have an estimate of how many volunteers could be expected to turn up and that numbers can alter significantly depending on weather conditions. In addition, to the number of volunteers attending, significant consideration must be afforded to the age and general physical ability of individual volunteers.