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‘Balance’ needs to favour environment at Moolap wetlands

The Royal Spoonbill is among a number of birds of regional significance to the Moolap wetlands. Photo: Frankzed / Flickr / CC by 2.0

The Royal Spoonbill is among a number of birds of regional significance to the Moolap wetlands. Photo: Frankzed / Flickr / CC by 2.0

 

Published 8 July 2016

Victorians are being urged to back a vision of Geelong's Moolap coastal wetlands that would see it become an internationally important conservation and ecotourism area that protects migratory birds and reconnects people with nature.

The call follows the release by the Victorian Government of a discussion paper on the future of the Moolap planning area. You can download the discussion paper from the Have Your Say website.

 

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The Victorian National Parks Association's Chris Smyth has been working closely with local community and conservation groups in support of ecologically sustainable coastal land use for the area.

"Geelong is rapidly growing and desperately needs increased recreational open space. For more than a century Geelong residents have been excluded from the Moolap saltworks, and for more than 50 years from the Point Henry area. We can change that now.

"Every great city has a great park. Moolap can be Geelong's."

Critical habitat

The Moolap wetlands are a critical remnant of habitats that were once far more extensive along Port Phillip Bay's western shoreline and attract thousands of threatened migratory birds each year.

"We agree with Victoria's water minister Lisa Neville that there is now a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the future of the Moolap and Point Henry areas," Mr Smyth said.

"But shaping that future must have ecological sustainability at its core and ensure that Moolap's natural and cultural heritage is protected.

"To achieve that we need to throw out tired ideas of industrial, port and residential (canal) development that has been the stock in trade of governments and developers along the coast for decades.

"We also need to change the conversation about finding a balance between environment, economy and community needs. In the past this has usually resulted in the environment and community taking a back seat in outcomes. It's 'the economy' that has created the ugliness at Point Henry, is driving the rapid growth of Geelong that's pressuring open space, and initiating proposals like the ludicrous Nelson Cove canal estate.

"We can either give in to the 'the economy' at Moolap or create a very different future."

The discussion paper outlines seven scenarios for what the future could hold for the Moolap planning area, which covers more than 1200 hectares and includes the recently closed Alcoa aluminium smelter at Point Henry. The seven scenarios cover business as usual, conservation, tourism, port, residential, marine industry and production.

"There are some very good ideas on conservation and ecotourism, including a large conservation area covering the entire former Moolap saltworks site, a regional park and an ecotourism area in the 'conservation' scenario," Mr Smyth said.

 

More info

For information about the Moolap Coastal Strategic Framework Plan please visit the Victorian Government's Have Your Say website.

The site has information about the planning process and downloadable copies of the discussion paper, case studies on how the future of similar areas has been planned, and a background paper on the area's values.

Download our discussion paper >>