A conservation blueprint for Victoria - have your say
The State Government's release of a draft blueprint for protecting nature in Victoria is a step in the right direction, but our natural environment needs major new investment if it is to flourish into the future.
It's almost 20 years since a formal conservation or biodiversity strategy has been developed in Victoria, and the state needs a comprehensive plan.
For far too long state governments have neglected the management of Victoria's natural environment.
Have your say, comments due by May 15
The release in March 2016 of a new draft conservation plan, Protecting Victoria's Environment - Biodiversity 2036, represents a step in the right direction by the Andrews Government.
The draft plan contains some great ideas, and the government deserves credit for taking leadership on nature conservation, but without significant new resources, and specific initiatives to back up the plan, our unique natural areas will continue to decline.
The objectives encouraging more Victorians to value nature are positive and should be supported with a range of capacity building and grants programs, similar to those provided to sport and recreation clubs.
They would allow environment groups and local governments to assist specific communities to engage in nature-based activities, including new programs introducing people to nature, such as Bush Kinder.
One of the key criticisms of draft plan is the lack of detail about specific initiatives or programs. In general terms, however, the goals and measurements are good. For example one strategy goal is that Victoria has flourishing plant and animal populations, improved habitats and functioning natural ecosystems, measured by:
- Halting the overall decline of threatened species and securing the greatest possible number of species in the wild in the face of climate change.
- Improving the overall extent and condition of native habitats across terrestrial, coastal, marine and freshwater environments.
- Improving ecological regimes to best support biodiversity in a changing environment.
The key points of measurement are excellent (though it would be sensible to 'reverse' the decline of threatened species, rather than just 'halt' it), but there is nothing concrete in the strategy to show how we would actually achieve these goals.
Some of the initial ideas we are asking for include:
- Adoption of clear state-wide targets, established by an independent scientific process.
- Funding for four landscape bio-link projects, such as a Coastal Biolink, the Central Victorian Biolinks Alliance, Habitat 141 in south-west Victoria, and a Victorian version of the Great Eastern Ranges initiative, which was funded extensively by the NSW government.
- Establish a series of rewilding projects focusing on the Wilson Prom, Grampians, Mallee and Alpine national parks. These projects would include such things as intensive integrated pest control, strategic fencing (if appropriate) and the re-introduction of certain native species when appropriate.
- Establish a $30 million revolving fund for Trust for Nature, which would allow the Trust to buy and covenant high conservation significance land and then re-sell it, particularly in the highly priced coastal and urban fringe areas.
- Provide tax incentives or breaks for private protected areas and [private land covenantors.
- Provide funding for regular state-wide bio-blitz monitoring, complimented by a rolling program of landscape wide, bioregional assessments.
There is also a need for legislative and institutional reform. The Strategy is being developed alongside a review of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, and the Native Vegetation Regulations in Victoria, and builds on previous work, including the Land and Biodiversity White Paper.
Have your say
Victorians are being encouraged to have their say on the new draft plans. Your comments must be in by May 15: