Landcare groups are concerned new Ngioka systems will leave them with no plants and unable to fulfill grants

Volunteers at The Ngioka Centre at Little Beach. Photo by Marian Sampson.
Volunteers at The Ngioka Centre at Little Beach. Photo by Marian Sampson.

 

IN what can only be described as a turbulent year for Port Stephens Landcare Groups, the future of The Ngioka Centre and its operations are still causing concern.

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The Ngioka Centre is a council-owned facility used for the propagation of endemic species used by local Landcare and environmental groups.

While Port Stephens Council is offering to continue to propagate plants for projects, groups are struggling with a need to pre-order plants 12 months in advance.

Landcare volunteers are now having to propagate their own plants through volunteering at The Ngioka Centre, in addition to their environmental work.

Margaret Wilkinson, who organises the plantings and working bees for Corlette Parks Reserves and Landcare 355c volunteers, told News Of The Area, “It is very difficult for the volunteers who work to improve the environment of Port Stephens to order plants 12 months in advance when the seeds aren’t even in and no species lists are available.”

She believes that the changes will make it challenging for groups to deliver on Council’s own environmental grants, most of which was to purchase Ngioka native plants and which are now free to Landcare groups.

There are also concerns that Ngioka could pass from a community asset to a private one.

“With a 12-month cycle on grants, plants simply will not be ready for planting within the grant period.

“It is hard for Landcare volunteers to understand why a fully functional nursery owned by Council is best used as an NDIS facility where it appears the majority of activities are now reduced to arts and crafts,” she said.

Peter Matwijow from the Port Stephens Council Parks and Gardens team told News Of The Area, “The Ngioka Centre plant nursery is still functional with plant propagation and nurturing of plants being undertaken by the volunteers under the supervision of the Nelson Bay Parks Supervisor.”

Plants are made available via the committees being pro-active and supplying a list and numbers of plant species required.

“To date we have not received any requests, however Council will not be keeping large stocks as Council is no longer selling plants to the public, this ensures no wastage of plants,” he said.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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