In our final edition of Park Watch for 2023, we bring you stories of wonder, of resilience and of the challenges that wildlife, nature and protected areas in Victoria face.

The spectacular Austral Grass-trees in the Western Port Woodlands adorn our cover, where a puzzle of disjointed natural areas can be solved by creating a new Bass Coast National Park.

Inside, we highlight two open letters recently sent to the Victorian Government: on legislating the central west national parks and winding up VicForests. NatureWatch’s Sera Blair provides an in-depth look at three years of post-fire wildlife monitoring in east Gippsland, and Professor Sarah Bekessy show how we can design ‘nature-positive’ cities.

We reveal a flawed experiment in Enfield State Park, why Mt Cole’s popular Beeripmo walk is still at risk, a management plan for Dandenong Police Paddocks/Nerre Nerre Warrene, and visit the past and present of Grey-headed Flying Foxes in Yarra Bend Park.

On water issues, we look at the thirst for proper marine planning, energy pressures mounting in Western Port Bay, restoring Golden Kelp forests and celebrate the success of Marine Life of Victoria project in leading citizen science app, iNaturalist.

Check out our busy activities schedule, book reviews for kids, a grasslands to colour-in, and tips on stillness in nature.

And as always we have a range of other articles covering the most important issues concerning our national parks and other natural areas across our state.

Cover image: Austral Grass-trees (Xanthorrhoea australis) in Grantville Nature Conservation Reserve, Bunurong Country (Credit: Hartley Tobin).

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