This strategy sets targets for environmental assets that are the cornerstones of ecological health and resilience in the Port Phillip and Western Port region – native vegetation, native animals, waterways and wetlands, hinterland, coasts and the bays.
Objectives and Priorities
For native vegetation, the objective is to retain high quality native vegetation in the region providing habitat for native species and making significant contributions to the overall environmental health and resilience of the region.
The priorities are to:
- Permanently maintain the extent of numerous large and/or important patches of native vegetation and ensure they are managed primarily for conservation purposes
- Retain the collective quantity/quality of the other native vegetation across the landscape.
For revegetation and carbon plantings, the objective is to achieve benefits for biodiversity and land management while capturing and storing carbon in the landscape.
The priorities are to:
- Focus major revegetation programs on particular areas that offer opportunities for major new ‘Nature Links’ to improve habitat extent, connectivity and resilience
- Focus carbon planting programs on areas with high carbon sequestration potential that also contribute to the development of major new ‘Nature Links’
- Protect existing significant stores of carbon held in coastal/marine soils and vegetation (‘blue carbon’) including in the saltmarsh and mangrove areas along the western shoreline of Port Phillip Bay and the coastal areas of Western Port.
For native animals, the objective is to maintain the diversity of native animal species that still inhabit the region and ensure the populations are healthy and resilient.
The priorities are to:
- Stabilise and improve the health of populations of species that are threatened with extinction
- Stabilise or improve the health of populations of a set of ‘indicator species’ as a reflection of stable health for many other native species that share their landscapes and threats.
For waterways and wetlands, the objective is to maintain and enhance the environmental values of waterways as indicated by the health and resilience of fish, frogs, platypus, birds, macroinvertebrates, vegetation and amenity. The priorities are to:
- Protect and improve riparian vegetation crucial to the environmental and social values of waterways
- Maintain and, where possible, improve the diversity and populations of native species in the region’s waterways, wetlands and estuaries
- Improve water quality in waterways, wetlands and estuaries and protect the quality of receiving waters in Port Phillip Bay and Western Port
- Protect and improve the features of waterways enjoyed for their aesthetic, landscape and cultural values and for active and passive recreation.
For the hinterland, the objective is to retain extensive and healthy rural landscapes and open space around Melbourne that supports habitat for native species, productive and valuable agriculture, food security, clean air, carbon sequestration, water quality, social amenity values, cultural values and tourism. The priority is to retain, as much as is practicable, the extent of land zoned as green wedge, rural conservation, farm, rural living or some relevant special uses.
For the coasts, the objective is to maintain, as much as is practicable, the environmental values of the coasts around the region. The priority is to at least maintain the current extent and quality of native vegetation in each of the 15 coastal zones that have been delineated in the region.
For Port Phillip Bay and Western Port, the objective is to maintain the environmental health of the bays. The priority is to maintain the existing high quality of the marine water in each of the segments of the bays.
Various measures are embedded in this strategy to generate and foster a shared vision for future environmental condition, commitment from key partners, collaboration and effective action. They include:
- Maintaining the strategy as a website so it is always accessible and up-to-date for Government organisations, Councils, non-government organisations, Landcare and community groups, farmers, landholders, the agricultural and education sectors and the broader public and so it more effectively promotes improved use of land and water resources
- Establishing SMART targets for environmental condition that are agreed with the organisations that will have lead roles in attaining them
- Securing ‘statements of commitment’ from the organisations that will have lead roles in attaining the targets
- Progressively enhancing the environmental condition data and the interactive mapping through ground-truthing, improvement of mapping layers and addition of new layers
- Adding new information to Strategy text and maps about the potential impacts of climate change and actions for mitigation and adaptation
- Assisting Councils and other organisations to incorporate the Regional Catchment Strategy objectives and targets into their planning and decision-making
- Mapping layers into their own systems to aid local planning and day-to-day decision-making
- Fostering collaboration among organisations to share knowledge and generate partnerships
- Reporting on major actions being undertaken across the region by various organisations
- Establishing monitoring arrangements for the condition of all of the environmental assets
- Undertaking regular assessment of environmental condition
- Publicly reporting at regular intervals on environmental condition and progress towards the targets.