Planning and action towards the targets in this strategy are being led by Victorian Government organisations, Councils and numerous other agencies, community groups and individuals.
This section provides examples of the excellent work being done to achieve the strategy’s targets.
The RCS has evolved significantly since it was formally approved by the Victorian Government in October 2014. With an interactive website designed to be reviewed and updated in response to change, the strategy has been modified in 2016-17 with the addition of significant new information and priorities regarding climate change.
Four new organisations officially signed on as RCS partners in 2016-17 - Bass Coast Landcare Network, Boorondara City Council, Wathaurung Aboriginal Cooperation and Wyndham City Council. This brings the number of RCS partners to 32 organisations. These organisations have each contributed targets and commitments to the strategy.
The PPWCMA’s engagement with environmental managers in the region aims to make working together more rewarding than working alone. Engagement with partner organisations in 2016-17 included:
Review and improvement
In 2016-17, the PPWCMA Board and staff also evaluated the progress, strengths and weaknesses in RCS implementation. The result was an internal plan of the PPWCMA’s work to advance the RCS over the next five years. The plan focuses on six areas:
The PPWCMA also developed more improvements to the RCS. The next set of proposed changes will:
The proposed changes were approved by the Board in June 2017 for submission to the Minister for Water.
In 2017-18 and future years, work will focus on:
A number of integrated catchment management project proposals were developed for the Our Catchments Our Communities strategy. During October 2016, the Funding Allocation Panel met and awarded funding to the following three projects:
• $1 million will be allocated to Transforming the Dandenong Creek corridor into a world-class urban ‘Living Link’
• $300,000 will be allocated to Restoring the natural glory of Jacksons Creek at Sunbury – a foundation for the Maribyrnong Naturelink
• $300,000 will be allocated to Linking the Mornington Peninsula Landscape - From Planning to Action
Please continue to visit this site for updates and stories in regards to the above projects. Do not hesitate to contact the CMA should you wish to be involved or want further information about the above projects.
Minister Lisa Neville recently launched the Our Catchments Our Communities strategy – Victoria’s first state-level strategy for integrated catchment management. The strategy has been supported in the recent Victorian Budget with a $22 million initiative to help implement it over the next 4 years.
Of the new funding, $2 million is earmarked for work in this Port Phillip & Western Port region including around $1.6 million to be invested in a project(s) that is:
• a tangible, on-ground contribution to implementation of the Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS);
• engaging multiple stakeholders;
• a very strong demonstration of integrated catchment management;
• a multi-year project so it can achieve significant benefits; and
• leveraging significant additional funding.
During July - August 2016, the PPWRCS team led six discussion workshops across the region. Over 80 RCS Leaders and Friends from councils, agencies, NGOs and Landcare networks attended these workshops to explore and discuss projects that satisfy funding criteria. These projects will be considered by an independent 'funding allocation' panel to determine which project(s) will be funded.
The Our Catchments Our Communities strategy and associated funding is a significant demonstration of the Victorian Government’s commitment to integrated catchment management that is community-based, region-scale and collaborative.
Collaboration between Nillumbik Shire Council, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and VicRoads has achieved more effective and efficient weed control on public land over the past 4 years. Through the Urban Fringe Weed Management Initaitve, the Victorian Government granted $500,000 to restore rare habitats, animals and plants between the Yarra River Valley and Kinglake Ranges in Nillumbik Shire (a RCS Leader).
Key outcomes from this initiative include:
1. A reduction in weed threats to biodiversity on public land.
2. Increased coordination between government agencies and private landholders.
3. Application of asset based, biosecurity, risk management and MERI approaches.
4. Directly treated over 69 different weed species in 15 reserves covering more than 1500 hectares.
5. Eliminated most new and emerging weeds in targeted reserves.
6. Eliminated most weeds in our best quality areas.
7. Reduced weed cover and reduced seedbanls in lower quality areas.
The major legacy of this project is a structure for government and community to work together on biodiversity projects for the protection of the natural environment and the enrichment of all involved. Although the Urban Fringe Weed Management initiative Funding has finished the Warrandyte to Kinglake Habitat Corridor project will continue.
The inaugural 2016 Knowledge Banquet brought together 190 Regional Catchment Strategy Leaders and friends across the Port Phillip and Western Port region at the MCG. Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, Anthony Carbines MP, welcomed guests and started the event by awarding five new Regional Catchment Strategy Leader Awards to: City of Kingston, City of Frankston, Southern Rural Water, Trust for Nature and City of Melbourne.
Served by 15 diverse but expert speakers, there was a feast of practical information and tips for guests to take home. Both the left side and right side of the brain were exercised during the Knowledge feast. Critical listening during presentations was balanced out by creative activities during lunchtime, including: still-life drawing, music, interactions with native wildlife and magic tricks. Additionally, an Indigenous pop-up shop allowed guests to learn about PPWCMA Indigenous NRM programs and partnerships across the region.
Guests left the day with knowledge they could use in their every day work. Here are a selection of 10 practical messages we learnt:
1. Collaboration is learning out loud; having the right mindset is essential, share yours and be curious about your collaborators point of view, values and beliefs.
2. Be cautious how we apply models as tools to predict the future and be curious about the data that underpins them.
3. It is important to share perceptions and motivations to clearly articulate the connections between health, ecosystems and society as these will define how we create a health and wellbeing narrative in our business.
4. Bringing threatened species back to life requires open dialogue and many partnerships to ensure long-term success.
5. Private land conservation is a powerful worldwide movement and opens up opportunities for new dialogue on ecosystem services valuations and payments, securing natural resource investments, stewardship and multi-partner landscape projects.
6. Planting indigenous and native species in our gardens can create a sense of community and belonging while being beneficial for native fauna.
7.Many proposals for philanthropic funding are weak because they are don’t make a convincing case for their benefits in meeting a pressing, well-understood need.
8. Building relationships with politicians is like building a relationship with anyone. You have to make time and place to get to know each other before you ‘pop the question’!
9. Parks Victoria and Melbourne Water offer rewarding collaborations. Partnerships with Melbourne Water are in well-defined, funded programs; Parks Victoria offers skills and administrative capacity to support tailor-made projects.
10. Measurable targets are not just part of good strategy and planning; they’re essential to success in defending your environmental goals at VCAT.
A number of speakers provided their presentations, which can be found by following this link. Please reference any information accordingly. We look forward to creating our next Knowledge event for 2017.
PPWCMA’s strategy team, Ian Morgans and Rebecca Koss, met with 34 organisations during February and March to consult on changes to the Port Phillip & Western Port RCS. They presented their findings to the Board’s RCS Committee last week.
Consultation feedback showed general support for proposed RCS improvements: the RCS responses to climate change and asset descriptions that better explain RCS Leader efforts to conserve nature in urban and peri-urban environments.
But they also offered the strategy longer-term directions:
- The need for goals for nature in wild places and different goals tailored to nature-based amenity in urban environments;
- Further development of the RCS ‘Nature Links’ concept to support projects to improve habitat connections across landscapes;
- Creating ways for the RCS to be relevant and supportive of community groups and individuals on private land.
These and other recommended RCS changes will be presented to the Board in mid-April for submission to the Honorable Lisa Nevile MP, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water.
Now in its second year, Moonee Valley City Councils’ Urban Ecology Strategy is starting to make a difference on the ground. Adopted in 2014, the Strategy aims to protect and enhance existing native vegetation, as well as identify potential corridor linkages and support new natural spaces in more recent human-made landscapes.
Moonee Valley has linked with two Australian Government programs, The 20 Million Trees Program and The Green Army to achieve the goals and targets set out in the Regional Catchment Strategy. Through the 20 Million Trees Program, Council has committed to plant 30,000 trees by the end of 2017, as well as continue to plant ground covers, grasses and shrubs. Increasing and improving the quality of native vegetation in our suburbs will provide a great range of benefits, including more habitat for plants and animals, better aesthetics, temperature regulation, and cleaner air.
Over the last 12 months the Green Army teams have enhanced existing and prepared new sites for planting. So far the teams have planted almost 10,000 tube stock, undertaken weed control covering 30 hectares and erosion over 9 hectares within the municipality. With Moonee Valleys’ success in securing a further four Green Army teams over the next 18 months, the Council is very excited to see what they can achieve.
A new challenge has arisen for the Crib Point Stony Point Foreshore Committee of Management Inc. Nearly half of the reserve has been impacted by a summer bush fire in January 2016. The coming months will require vigilance as invasive species compete with indigenous when regeneration begins.
As the appointed manager of this section of Crown Land from Jacks Beach Reserve to Stony Point on the Western Port side of the Mornington Peninsula, the Foreshore Committee of Management protects the native vegetation within the reserve as their RCS target.
The reserve contains 12 Ecological Vegetation Classes and many species of flora and fauna, including some that are rare and endangered. The Foreshore Committee uses extensive flora and fauna surveys to guide works that are undertaken within the reserve. These works are incorporated into the reserve's management plan and sets out the basis and priority of tasks to be completed in the coming years. The foreshore reserve will continue to be a natural bio link with a rich diversity which supports a variety or species.
The measurable targets in Hume City Council’s Natural Heritage Strategy provide the foundation for monitoring and evaluation on its conservation reserves. The monitoring program, now in its third year, show weed and rabbit control and burning and physical removal of biomass appear to be improving habitat quality, notably for the Golden Sun Moth.
The first year of the monitoring program collected baseline data by measuring and mapping the relative areas of good and poor quality vegetation in Hume’s reserves. The program now monitors changes in the poor-quality patches to track progress towards its aims of reducing the extent of weeds and increasing native vegetation recruitment and diversity.
The method of measuring transitions to low weed density was selected because it offered to help evaluate, at optimal cost, the most important outcome Council aims to achieve from its reserve conservation work. The method is rapid rather than detailed and Council’s contractors are able to monitor half of its conservation reserves each year.
Hume City Council is currently designing an environmental monitoring program for private land. This will support its renewed conservation funding program for rural landholders.
The City of Whittlesea has two conservation programs under way to improve the health and security of native vegetation in its municipality. Both are important conservation works for local landscapes and communities and make significant contributions to achieving Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS) targets.
The first program is using funds from developer contributions and vegetation clearing offsets from Whittlesea’s urban growth areas to improve high-value native vegetation in new Council reserves and protect them with conservation covenants. Whittlesea manages over 500 hectares of native vegetation across 32 reserves. Its work is creating new gifts of open space and the possibility of conserving their natural values for future generations.
The second program is an innovative collaboration with Parks Victoria (PV). Council and PV are working on revegetation and weed control along the Plenty River corridor upstream of Plenty Gorge. This land was acquired by the Victorian Government to create a Regional Park and buffer the Plenty River from urban development around Mernda and Doreen. The project combines the City of Whittlesea’s capacity to use short-term offset and developer funds for restoration with Parks Victoria’s long-term mission to maintain the land into the future.
Whittlesea’s work is guided by its ‘Sustainability Strategy’ and ‘Native Vegetation Strategic Offsets Plan'. Whittlesea Council recognises its work contributes to environmental health and resilience for the whole region so its goals for the extent and quality of native vegetation and Hinterland form part of the Port Phillip & Western Port Regional Catchment Strategy.
The tail-end of almost a decade’s funding from Growth Corridor development is now in sight. Measuring the long-term success of Whittlesea’s programs partly rests on State Government monitoring for threatened species and ecological communities affected by urban growth. These are prescribed in the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for Melbourne's Growth Corridors. But Whittlesea Council is also working on the locally specific indicators it needs to track the success of its on-ground work and better understand where and how its aims are best achieved.
The Nillumbik State of Environment Report 2015 was adopted by the Nillumbik Shire Council in April 2015. The report is the latest in a 30-year history of environmental monitoring and reporting.
The Report is designed to provide an accurate picture of the Shire’s environmental conditions to inform Council and community responses to threats and opportunities. It will inform reviews and implementation of new strategies for Biodiversity, Green Wedge Management, Invasive Species, Climate Change and Integrated Water Management.
Part of the Report describes legal and illegal vegetation clearing on private land. To monitor this, the Shire of Nillumbik is using aerial photograph interpretation. The monitoring shows vegetation clearing occurred on 1,206 properties during 2009-12 and only 545 properties during 2007-2009. Approximately half of the properties where clearing occurred during 2009-2012 were in the urban areas of Eltham, Eltham North, Diamond Creek and Greensborough.
Community response to the 2009 Black Saturday bushfire explains the large increase in the number of properties where clearing occurred between 2009-2012. Significant clearance of burnt vegetation immediately following the bushfire was also recorded as vegetation clearance. The Shire plans to up-date its aerial photos so timely assessments can continue.
Environmental Significance Overlays (ESO), defined as sites of fauna and habitat significance, have recently been reviewed for the Nillumbik Shire in combination with new available data. The new ESOs are intended to better reflect the significance and intactness of remnant native habitat within the Shire. Stronger planning requirements will be applied to the most significant and intact areas.
The updated ESO data will also be used to better direct Council’s conservation services and grant schemes to where vegetation and habitat appears to have the best actual or potential value. Nillumbik’s new ESO data and State of Environment Report 2015 form a package of information to support the Shire’s decision-makers and planners and the many community groups and individuals pursuing conservation and sustainability.
Twenty two organisations were recognised with an award from the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, Hon. Lisa Neville MP, for helping lead a large-scale land, water and nature conservation plan for the Melbourne region.
Thirteen Local Councils, Melbourne Water, Parks Victoria, the Environmental Protection Authority Victoria, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, the Phillip Island Nature Park, a coastal Committee of Management and the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA are leading partners in the Port Phillip & Westernport Regional Catchment Strategy.
The Strategy is designed to help local councils and public authorities collaborate towards shared goals for the health and resilience of our region’s natural environment.
The above organisations have contributed local targets and commitments for native vegetation, native animal populations, rivers and creeks, open space, coasts and the bays.
In presenting the awards, Minister Neville thanked the organisations that have made leading commitments to the Regional Catchment Strategy.
“Success depends on organisations working together”, the Minister said. “Collaboration is not always easy but it’s vital because environments and landscapes don’t stop at our local government or administrative boundaries”. “This region-scale strategy shows how local plans and projects are contributing to environmental health across the region”.
Parks Victoria (PV) is at the centre of a 9-year collaboration to conserve native animals in our region’s Ramsar coastal wetlands. With Australian Government funding, the program is mounting a major assault on weeds, foxes and feral cats around Western Port, the French Island National Park and on Port Phillip Bay’s western shoreline around Point Cook.
Parks Victoria is our region’s largest Ramsar wetland custodian. Western Port Ramsar wetlands cross PV’s boundaries with the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, the City of Casey, Cardinia Shire Council, Bass Coast Shire Council and Phillip Island Nature Parks. PV’s Port Phillip Bay Ramsar sites share boundaries with the Hobsons Bay City Council and the Wyndham City Council.
“Collaborations encourage people to look beyond their boundaries and invest in big projects they might otherwise be unable to resource”, says Peter Kemp, PV’s Environmental Programs Manager for the Melbourne region. “Everyone contributes only part of the cost of the Ramsar project. In return, we get a big project across boundaries with coordinated contractors, shared monitoring, data and learning”. Examples of project collaborations include coordinated fox control by shared contractors in the Yaringa Marine Park area and adjacent reserves owned by the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.
Monitoring has already seen better populations of the threatened Southern Brown Bandicoot. Pest control is a vital step towards the Regional Catchment Strategy targets for native animals and the collaboration allows each partner to achieve and learn more than it could alone.
The PPWCMA has convened a first 'Regional Catchment Strategy Forum' enabling people from Councils and agencies around Melbourne to discuss environmental directions and issues.
It was wonderful to have 22 people at the first forum discussing “What’s our next common steps forward for conservation?”. It included representatives from Yarra Ranges Council, Hume City Council, Moorabool Shire Council, Manningham City Council, Phillip Island Nature Parks, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, City of Whittlesea, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and Frankston City Council and was full of intelligence, insight, passion and ideas.
The next forum, in November, will explore the concepts of ‘natural capital’, ‘green infrastructure’ and 'ecosystem services' to describe the imperative of our environmental work. Over time, the forum will help strengthen the Port Phillip & Westernport Regional Catchment Strategy as a shared environmental plan for Melbourne, its hinterland and the bays.
Collaboration between the City of Casey, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has achieved great results for some of the City’s scarce bushland reserves.
Funded by the Urban Fringe Weed Management Initiative (UFWMI), Casey’s Weed Management Initiative removed weeds from 128 hectares of land and established over 150,000 indigenous plants over 46 hectares of Council reserves and Parks Victoria land in the Grasmere Creek Catchment through Harkaway and Berwick. Water quality improvements are also expected through riparian and in-stream plantings and associated drainage works.
The project attracted community involvement in advocacy, planning and action and helped establish a weed management group of residents on adjacent private land. Increased community use of the bushland reserves has been observed since the project which suggests it has improved their amenity value. The City of Casey hopes this will help strengthen community appreciation of its natural assets.
Only 7% of the City of Casey’s natural environment remains relatively intact. Casey’s Regional Catchment Strategy target for ‘Permanent Native Vegetation’ aims to protect extent and quality in 98 hectares of vegetation over 16 ‘patches’. These reserves provide precious but scarce natural places for a population of 283,000 which is projected to grow to 459,000 by 2036.
Although internationally renowned for its Penguin Parade, Phillip Island Nature Parks is also home for a diverse range of animals and plants including a number of rare and threatened species. Managing over 2000 hectares of Permanent Native Vegetation across a variety of habitats including beaches, wetlands, grasslands and woodlands, requires Phillip Island Nature Parks to implement a range of conservation programs to maintain their quality and extent.
One successful conservation program that has improved the quality of native vegetation was implementation of the Weed Management Strategy. On ground works have reduced the extent of weeds within targeted areas of the Nature Parks (1020 hectares) with the additional benefit of building good working relationships between island management agencies, neighbours and the larger community. Over the past financial year, volunteers planted 30,000 indigenous species across 1020 hectares to rehabilitate and revegetate habitats impacted by weeds. This equates to 4872 volunteer hours. Ongoing mapping of weed populations using geographic information system (GIS) will allow management to target weeds and improve the condition of natural assets across Phillip Island Nature Parks.
On Friday 20th November 2015, the PPWCMA hosted the second Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS) Forum. This Forum followed its September meeting to identify how the PPWCMA can help RCS Leaders foster social and financial support for their work. Making sure the RCS articulates shared goals and using these to make ‘common language’ submissions to planning and policy reviews was one strong idea from the discussion. A project to renew our knowledge about community values and better coordinated skill and success-sharing were two others.
Thank you to our RCS Leaders for your participation in the Forum this year. Now we have done the groundwork, next year’s Forums promise to make working together even more rewarding.
Wurundjeri Tribe Land Council met on Country (Kalkallo) with representatives from the Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, a PhD candidate (La Trobe University), as well as a small selection of Natural Resource Management (NRM) professionals including Rhys Collins from the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA.
Elders and young Wurundjeri people had the opportunity to walk and talk in the grassland, gaining further experience in plant identification and to see murnong first hand. Important scientific and cultural/traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) gained from the recent Barengi Gadjin Earth Oven project (i.e., murnong preparation and cooking) was exchanged. The day has provided Wurundjeri Tribe Land Council with an opportunity to consider a co-ordinated and sustainable approach to murnong management and preservation within the Council’s existing land management activities.
Future discussions will focus on how cultural knowledge can be consolidated and passed forward to upcoming generations of Wurundjeri people. Given that TEK/NRM research has been flagged as a priority (Barengi Gadjin, murnong mapping in Victoria), and that relevant research is currently underway at LaTrobe, discussions will commence on how best to establish appropriate protocols for obtaining permission for NRM activities on Country and knowledge sharing.
Mitchell Shire Council's Environment Team have continued to implement many activities which are supported by the Port Phillip & Westernport Regional Catchment Strategy. These activities include: weed control, bushland management, environmental publications and education.
One such environmental education initiative is environmental land management information for new rural landholders. Since early 2000, over 2,000 personalised kits have been sent out to landholders who have purchased properties over two hectares in size. In 2015, the Environment Team reviewed the effectiveness of these kits. The evaluation included a community survey and discussions with the Mitchell Environment Advisory Committee.
As a result of the consultation, and in an effort to minimise paper use, Mitchell Shire Council's Environment Team now send a kit to every new landholder who purchases land over 2ha; a welcome note, a weed identification booklet and a checklist of hard copy publications that they would like to obtain that is sent back to Council, with a reply paid envelope. The checklist is also available to all landholders (not just new landholders) both in hard copy through the Mitchell Shire libraries and in electronic form online.
Does nature matter to people in urban Melbourne? Yes!
Contact with nature is critical to the health and well-being of 4.5 million Melbournians and over 15 million urban Australians.
But past government strategy has under-recognised urban conservation. Melbourne Water’s waterways program, Council environment staff and Parks Victoria conserve nature in our city against daily competition for space and resources.
The new Victorian Biodiversity Strategy is an opportunity for change. The PPWCMA’s Regional Strategy Team and Living Links Coordinator are working with a group of council and community leaders and the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning to show how the Biodiversity Strategy can help better connect urban communities and nature.
The PPWCMA’s Regional Strategy Team is also consulting with its partner organisations on a model response to the Draft Biodiversity Strategy. The response will focus on the importance of urban nature conservation and the value of its partners’ work to keep nature alive and well in the city.