Hinterland is defined and mapped by this strategy as land zoned in municipal planning schemes as ‘Green Wedge’, ‘Rural Living’, ‘Farming’, ‘Rural Conservation’ or ‘Special Use’. This definition does not include public land and parks; it focuses on private rural land.
Hinterland covers almost 670,000 hectares; approximately 51% of the region, and these zones occur in 25 of the region’s 38 Council areas. The scale and accessibility of the Hinterland are important contributions to Melbourne’s long-held reputation as one of the world’s most ‘liveable’ cities.
Land in development-enabled zones is or likely to become ‘hard ground’ and lose capacity to support natural ecosystems and agriculture. This transition is usually irreversible. This makes Hinterland a vital legacy for future generations.
Melbourne’s Hinterland, though of variable condition, is predominantly ‘soft ground’; its landscapes support:
- The large majority of the region’s remaining native vegetation;
- The most viable habitat for much of the region’s surviving wildlife and biodiversity;
- Productive and valuable agriculture and local food security;
- Ecosystem services – clean air, water, assimilation of pollutants, climatic and temperature moderation and landscape aesthetics;
- Natural and open landscapes that are social and recreational oases for urban communities and hold essential cultural values.
Accordingly, this strategy’s targets aim to preserve the current or practicable area of Hinterland in each of the 25 municipalities where it occurs.
The extent and shape of the hinterland has changed over time as government planning policies respond to growing populations, demands for urbanisation and perceived transport and travel preferences. The region’s 4.2 million population will continue to grow. Melbourne’s urban area is an ongoing pressure on the Hinterland and the values it provides. Climate change will affect primary production and natural environments across this region’s Hinterland. Declining rainfall and water shortages will be particular pressures but more frequent fire-weather and losses in natural values may erode the amenity value of the region’s many hobby farms and ‘rural living’ zones.
The condition of Hinterland in this region has been assessed (Method & Condition). Targets and leadership roles are proposed and arrangements are outlined to monitor and report on progress. Targets and leadership arrangements are determined in consultation with relevant departments, agencies and delegated land managers.