Conservationists trying to protect nature in the upper Merri have been dealt a very poor hand from a deck heavily stacked in favour of developers by the Victorian Government.
The Government led by releasing the Growth Corridor Plans before the Biodiversity Conservation Strategies (which is back-to-front planning), then followed up by adding in some so-called “Logical Inclusions” to the Urban Growth Boundary, without any clear environmental process at all.
They then trumped it by only proposing to protect 61% of Grassy Eucalypt Woodland within the Urban Growth Boundary, instead of the 80% that they had agreed with the Federal Government. These are the beautiful old River Red Gums that are such a feature of landscapes to Melbourne’s north. Corridors for Growling Grass Frog habitat are still being whittled down. The Government then threw out the monitoring and evaluation plan and the independent auditor that they were supposed to have.
However, we conservationists still have a few cards up our sleeve! Along with other groups, such as the Wallan Environment Group and the VNPA, we are still working hard to save the remaining areas of high conservation value. After a brief meeting of some FoMC Committee members and a couple of interested guests on 26 March, one of our aces, Yasmin Kelsall, is reviewing priority sites, to focus on the key areas that we want to protect in order to make a decent biodiversity network in the upper Merri. We will take this map to politicians, Councils and the Metropolitan Planning Authority to clearly show them the areas that need to be protected and the reasons for it. Stay tuned to see how we go.