Environmental groups, friends groups and occasional volunteers carry out the bulk of revegetation work in Wonthaggi’s recreation trails, wildlife corridors and waterways, writes Frank Coldebella (South Gippsland Conservation Society). The recent National Resources Report Card highlighted the environmental pressures of rising permanent and holiday population on the coastal areas of Bass Coast and Phillip Island and points out the need for a more coordinated approach between the shire and the natural resource agencies to manage these pressures.
It is dispiriting for volunteers to see their hard work undermined by common practices of:
-clearing of wildlife corridors/ trails to make lawn mowing easier;
-bulldozing of native vegetation and soils into creeks;
-crop cultivation to the edge of streams resulting in soil loss;
-grazing of locally rare and complex riparian vegetation on public land adjoining rivers and creeks;
-lack of consultation or local knowledge by management authorities on the need for sensitivity and selectivity in weed spraying, seasonal track access difficulties and plant site selection.
The present ad hoc approach to environmental spending and work is clearly not achieving the best environmental outcome. Clarification is needed as to who is responsible at a local level for enforcing state legislation on clearing native vegetation. Frank suggests a regular environmental forum – at least annually – to evaluate the year’s work, share knowledge, explain strategies and determine priorities for the coming year. If people work together, like the V flight of the Ibis heading for the evening’s roost, the journey could be more fun and less exasperating! Volunteers need to know their views are being heard and valued.
There is now a brand new Bass Coast Round Table established by the Mornington Peninsula and Westernport Biosphere Foundation. The first meeting was in June, and meetings, open to everyone, will be held every two months. The round table aim is to combine conservation with sustainable use of natural resources and seeks a diversity of views and members from industries such as tourism, primary production, fisheries, resources, property, manufacturing and retail.
Convenor David Jobe says he hopes the round table will create change through dialogue rather than conflict. I wonder if round table members could take off on a V flight?