Anger at urban growth plans scrapping of bandicoot habitat corridors
Thursday, 14 June 2012
The Baillieu Government's decision to scrap plans for the creation of vital habitat corridors for Victoria's endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot have angered conservation groups.
"Victorian conservation groups are alarmed and angry at the Baillieu Government's decision yesterday to drop a draft plan that would have created up to three bandicoot habitat corridors in Melbourne's rapidly expanding southeast growth corridor," Executive Director of the Victorian National Parks Association Executive Director Matt Ruchel said today.
"These habitat corridors near Cranbourne were required under national environmental laws.
"Obviously the Victorian Government has been captured by developers and is failing to take into account long-term conservation and community needs."
Environment groups were briefed by the Department of Sustainability and Environment on the decision yesterday as part of new urban growth plans for Melbourne. Final environmental approval for the growth plans rest with federal environment minister Tony Burke.
"The Victorian Government is obligated under a joint federal and state agreement to develop strategies that will protect threatened species including the Southern Brown Bandicoot, Growling Grass Frog and critically endangered Golden Sun Moth before final urban growth plans are released," Mr Ruchel said.
"Threatened species protection plans must be developed, approved and released ahead of urban growth plans, but it seems that the Victorian Government has decided to short circuit the process."
"The environmental side of growth planning in Victoria has become a shambles and is putting the credibility of the entire process under question," Mr Ruchel said.
"Ted Baillieu's governments decision to drop draft bandicoot plan demonstrates yet again the need for strong Federal Government oversight of national environmental laws."
The expansion of Melbourne's urban growth boundary will also include the clearing of critically endangered grassland and woodlands, as well as the establishment of large grassland reserves west of the city and 200m wildlife corridors on each side of creeks for to help protect Growling Grass Frog habitat.
The Victorian National Parks Association is calling on the Victorian Government to release all of the threatened species strategies it has developed as part of its national legal obligations.
The VNPA is also calling on federal environment minister Tony Burke to:
- Require the immediate release and ensure detailed community consultation and independent scientific input on threatened species plans for Melbourne's urban growth areas.
- Ensure that the Victorian Government has provided detailed implementation plans and that the plans are in place for western grassland reserves, woodland reserves and habitat corridors.
- Immediately appoint an independent environmental monitor to assess state government plans and implementation.
- Southeast Melbourne and the Westernport region are home to some of the few remaining populations of Victoria's endangered Southern Brown Bandicoots outside of national parks.
- The habitat corridors planned for Melbourne's southeast were in ideal opportunity to maintain a wild population of Southern Brown Bandicoots on the city's urban doorstep.
- Two to three habitat corridors had been proposed in the draft Southern Brown Bandicoots Sub Regional Species Strategy. For more detail see the VNPA's submission on these plans.
- For more information on how Melbourne's urban sprawl is impacting on some of the most endangered habitats and species in Victoria please see the VNPA report 'Melbourne's Urban Expansion - Threatened Species on Our Doorstep'.
For comment contact VNPA Executive Director Matt Ruchel on 0418 357 813.