The Port Phillip & Western Port region has a high number and diversity of stakeholders active in the management of the region’s native vegetation, waterways, agricultural land, biodiversity assets, and marine environments. Almost 5 million people call Melbourne and its hinterland home.
Key audiences for RCS:
- The RCS in development and implementation must engage the regional partner agencies and community members, to guide investment and activity in the region.
- Another key audience for the RCS is the relevant responsible Ministers on behalf of the Government of Victoria, since the CaLP Act requires CMAs to submit RCSs to the responsible Ministers, for information and approval.
- The RCS will also inform the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and other Government Departments.
- The RCS will also take into account the requirements of the Australian Government’s Regional Land Partnerships program for Natural Resource Management (NRM) plans.
- Different documents or other products arising from the RCSs may be prepared to target and engage with a range of other groups.
The Local Areas section will focus on the integration of the
themes and related topics in a way that is relevant to local communities.
There are seven local areas and two major bay systems within the Port Phillip and Western Port region.
- Bass Coast, South Gippsland and Islands
- Casey, Cardinia, Baw Baw
- Macedon Ranges, Hume, Mitchell, Whittlesea
- Moorabool, Melton, Wyndham, Geelong
- Mornington Peninsula
- Yarra Ranges, Nillumbik
- Greater Melbourne
- Port Phillip Bay
- Western Port.
The Port Phillip and Western Port region is home to almost 5 million people, so for simplicity these local areas have been defined by local government areas.
This section may include consideration of important matters such as: planning; land use change; landscape values; climate change; sustainable agriculture, water and land use planning; resilient and liveable cities and towns; recreational use; demographic changes etc.
Each local area will
include the following headings:
- Assessment of current condition and trends
- Major threats and drivers of change
- Vision and outcomes
- Priority directions, including reference to any
strategies, plans and action plans, in which
targets, outputs and priority actions are described in detail.
The RCS 2021-27 will consist of five major themes that are in line with the State Government’s ‘Our Catchments, Our Communities’ Integrated Catchment Management Strategy (2016).
The major themes are Water; Land; Biodiversity; Coasts &
Marine; and Community. It is recognised that these broad themes are inter‐connected,
and also align with the way governments and other investors often plan and roll
out their investment programs.
The themes could be divided further into the following sub-themes:
- Water (waterways, wetlands and estuaries; groundwater)
- Land (land use changes; soil health; sustainable
- Biodiversity (habitat; native vegetation; native
animals; threatened species)
- Coasts & Marine (coastal vegetation; intertidal
- Community (traditional owners and Aboriginal Victorians
in ICM; Communities in ICM)
Each theme will include the following headings:
- Assessment of current condition and trends
- Major threats and drivers of change
- Desired outcomes for the future i.e. long‐term SMART
outcomes i.e. proposed to be achieved in 20+ years; and medium‐term SMART outcomes
i.e. ‘stepping stone’ outcomes proposed to be achieved in 6 years
- Priority directions, including reference to any strategies,
plans and action plans, in which targets, outputs and priority actions are described
(Note that SMART outcomes are: specific; measurable;
achievable; relevant; and time‐bound.)
The core principle when developing the next RCS will be to
adopt a whole‐of‐system approach for land, water and biodiversity planning and delivery.
This is often referred to as integrated catchment management (ICM).
Why is ICM so important?
As well as being a whole system approach, it also captures the
values and priorities of regional communities and brings together partners from
across the catchment region to identify and respond to challenges that cannot be
solved by one organisation or stakeholder alone. The next RCS will explain how ICM
is implemented in the Port Phillip & Western Port region.
ICM enables partners and the community to collaborate on ideas,
and gives opportunities to deliver on a range of benefits, including:
- leveraging effort and resources;
- making informed decisions across ‘silos’ through
- working towards a shared long‐term vision.
ICM establishes strong links between communities and the natural
resources within a catchment, and its characteristics are:
- Delivers a mix of multiple benefits – across land,
water, biodiversity, coasts and marine
- Flexible in planning and delivery
- Captures community values and priorities
- Right scale and scalability (local and regional)
- Enables Traditional Owners partnerships
- Leverages all partners’ contributions.
Principles for development of RCS 2021-27
- Integrated catchment management (ICM) approach
- Regional ownership, embracing the regional delivery
model, including co‐delivery from committed partners
- Place‐based systems approach, at regional and local
- Built on strong community engagement and stakeholder
- Regard for Aboriginal cultural values and traditional
- Triple bottom line approach, including consideration
of socio‐cultural, economic, and environmental factors
- Evidence‐based, supported by science and defendable
- Flexibility to adopt new technologies and new information
as they arise.
In the first installment of our summary of the recently released Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS) guidelines from the Victorian Catchment Management Council, we take a look at what exactly is the RCS and the purpose of the guidelines.
The Port Phillip & Western Port Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS) is the primary integrated planning framework for land, water and biodiversity for our region and also for each of the 9 other CMA regions in Victoria. It is an overarching succinct and high‐level strategy, with reference to more comprehensive, targeted and detailed supporting information.
The RCS guidelines were recently published by the Victorian Catchment Management Council and have been established under the provisions of the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, Schedule 2, Clause 2.2 which states that ‘A management plan must be prepared in accordance with any guidelines established by the Council’.
Purpose of the guidelines
The RCS guidelines will assist the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA in preparing the next Regional Catchment Strategy (2021‐2027), the fourth since 1997. The guidelines prescribe consistency across Victoria for many elements of the next RCSs for all 10 CMAs, and intend to generate the following significant improvements for integrated catchment management (ICM):
- Consistent presentation of all 10 RCSs to form a coordinated set of ICM strategies covering the whole state.
- Regional‐scale strategies developed collaboratively with Victoria’s communities, enabling effective local delivery of Government programs, designed to improve catchment health.
- Improving the accessibility of the RCSs, enhancing communication, engagement and awareness in Victoria’s communities about catchment issues and opportunities.
- Supporting ease‐of‐use of RCSs for all stakeholders, particularly state-wide and multi‐region organisations that bridge multiple CMA regions.
- Providing the ability to aggregate appropriate information from RCSs to enable a state-wide or multi‐region view of a set of common overall outcomes and indicators.
- Providing a consistent outcomes framework across all regions.
- An opportunity to promote and support Government policy and targets including consistency in demonstrating how the local‐scale and regional‐scale strategies and actions outlined in the 10 RCSs contribute to state-wide outcomes and targets.
- Aligning with Traditional Owners and their ongoing connection to Country, acknowledging the importance of Indigenous Whole of Country Plans and Joint Management Plans.
- Providing the basis for the Natural Resources Management plans required under Australian Government programs such as the National Landcare Program.
- Providing a clear rationale for securing funding resources from regional partners, Australian Government, private sector and philanthropic organisations for the ICM priorities of Victoria.
- Aligning the RCSs to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The Victorian Catchment Management Council have now released guidelines for the development of the next iteration of Victoria’s Regional Catchment Strategies (RCSs), covering the period 2021‐2027.
The guidelines have been established under the provisions of the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, Schedule 2, Clause 2.2 which states that ‘A management plan must be prepared in accordance with any guidelines established by the Council ’.
The RCS plays an important role in providing integrated catchment
management outcomes across the state. These guidelines are a departure from previous
guidelines in that they prescribe consistency across Victoria for many elements
of the next RCSs.
Over the next few weeks we will breakdown the guidelines and
discuss what it means for the Port Phillip & Western Port region.