3:14 PMReserves for People or Reserves for Wildlife?
What do you think rates higher at Manningham Council?
A series of documents were tabled at the 31 May 2016 council meeting that make for interesting reading. These were
"Review of the Victorian Native Vegetation Clearing Regulations"
"Protecting Victoria's Environment - Biodiversity 2036"
"Melbourne East Regional Sport and Recreation Strategy" and
"Proposed Sale of Tattersons Reserve"
I would like to take a look into a few of these.
A) "Protecting Victoria's Environment - Biodiversity 2036"
This document and the "Review of the Victorian Native Vegetation Clearing Regulations" are essentially a response by Manningham council to surveys or discussion papers prepared by the State government as background to reviewing state policy.
What stands out in the Biodiversity 2036 document is the very enthusiastic way that Manningham Council responds to the State Government. Let me give you some examples.
"Manningham applauds such a thorough and honest document which addresses most of the key threats and challenges of managing and enhancing biodiversity for the future in the state of Victoria" (page 1).
"Manningham Council supports the draft Plan's identification of the values of Victoria's biodiversity and the challenges that we face in conserving biodiversity into the future. In particular we strongly support the identification of the need to:
- radically increase our efforts and investment in actions such as private land conservation, and
- take stronger action to reduce threats to biodiversity on public land." (page 1).
"We note that DELWP's (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning) position is very different from Zoos Victoria's 2014-2019 Wildlife Conservation Plan:
'We are committed to the recovery of 20 native threatened species all of which require urgent conservation intervention. We've promised that no Victorian terrestrial vertebrate species will go extinct on our watch. This is an enormous but necessary undertaking and will require Zoos Victoria to work through strategic partnerships whilst mobilising community support.'
We question that if Zoos Victoria can set such a visionary goal, why can't the State Government set a similar goal?" (page 1).
The last quote is interesting.
They state that the Melbourne Zoo has committed themselves to the goal that not one Victorian terrestrial vertebrate species will go extinct on their watch. That is a noble goal. Manningham Council then question why the State Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning don't commit to the same or similar visionary goals that the Melbourne Zoo has.
To start with, it is really DELWP's job to do this and do they have all the facilities and expertise to carry out objectives similar to those of the Melbourne Zoo? Probably not. Probably such conservation goals for native species are more appropriately undertaken by the Melbourne Zoo. They would have the staff, training, equipment and expertise to do such work.
And just because DELWP does not adopt such conservation goals for Victorian wildlife does not mean that the State Government is not interested. After all, the Melbourne Zoo is a statutory body set up by the State Government in 1973 and has a specific job to work in the area of conservation, research and education.
It appears, to me at least, that Manningham Council is being a bit unreasonable in their requests upon the State Government and specifically upon DELWP.
Further along in the Biodiversity 2036 document we read that the public in general is either misguided or sometimes just vandals when it comes to preserving native species and the environment:
"Manningham supports the objectives for Goal 1 (i.e. To encourage more Victorians to Value Nature), especially increasing the number of Victorians acting to protect nature. However, the word ‘nature’ in this context needs to be defined, as many people consider a manicured garden with a tree as ‘nature’, which will not necessarily translate to the general community wanting to protect indigenous biodiversity. Is it achievable to expect all Victorians to connect with nature daily?" (Page 3)
It would seem that the ordinary ratepayer does not see things the same was as Manningham Council does and the council is having problems getting their extreme views across. Is it possible that the public doesn't agree with all the council's extreme views?
Also consider this:
"Many non-environmental organisations are the ones that cause the greatest environmental impact and reporting of environmental performance by these organisations must be included if the Plan is to achieve this goal." (Page 3).
Just who is meant by 'non-environmental organisations'? I suppose that would mean nearly all businesses, clubs, societies and so on who do not subscribe to the ideas held by Manningham Council.
That is a very large proportion of the population who, our council says, 'cause the greatest environmental impact'.
It seems that you and me are probably all being grouped together as environmental vandals because we don't go along with the extreme or fanatical ideas put forward by our council. And it is not as though we are not concerned about the environment and the conservation of Victoria wildlife.
B) "Melbourne East Regional Sport and Recreation Strategy"
This document is basically an agreement and framework among local councils in the East of Melbourne to work together when it comes to providing recreational facilities. This makes sense in that we would want a diverse spread of facilities to be available to the public in the broader area.
But even this document has a strong environmental slant when it comes to reserves.
One goal of this document is to have local councils work together to develop 'linear trails' or 'linear reserves'. This is when trails, parkland and reserves connect together to form long trails and corridors of vegetation that run through the suburbs.
In other documents Manningham council explains the value of these 'linear reserves' as being 'wildlife corridors'. The idea being that native animals can move around to find food, etc. Without being shut in by a suburban development all around a reserve.
However, in this recreational strategy, emphasis is not placed on these linear reserves as 'wildlife corridors'. Instead the emphasis is upon them as off-road trails running through the suburbs that can carry pedestrian, bicycle traffic, etc. But there is really little difference. Linear trails and linear reserves are the same thing. Most linear reserves have some type of pathway through them.
What is interesting is that this document makes 'the connection and development of shared recreational trails' a priority for the local councils (Page 8). In other words, this agreement between councils focuses on extending and expanding these trails or linear reserves.
What I find odd about the Recreational Strategy is that it makes almost no mention of the numerous small reserves scattered throughout the suburbs. These suburban reserves are little more than grassed areas with a few trees and tend to be surrounded entirely by suburban development.
It is possible that the local councils thought these suburban reserves were a local issue and it did not need to be mentioned in this framework and agreement between local councils.
But the question remains. What is Manningham Council's attitude and approach to all these small suburban reserves we use for playing ball, walking pets and so on?
A good place to find out is to read the argument for the proposed sale of Tatterson's reserve.
C) "Proposed Sale of Tattersons Reserve"
Tatterson's reserve is one such small suburban reserve. It is surrounded by suburban development and people us it for ball games, walking pets and so on.
What stuck me as I read this document on the proposed sale of Tatterson's reserve was that Manningham Council had almost nothing good to say about these smaller suburban reserves.
However, they did mention the following:
Manningham council is committed to giving every residence access to one of these parks. Their policy is that no household will be more than 400 meters walking distance to any such reserve.
And they are concerned that there are no 'holes' in the suburbs where people do not have such access to these suburban reserves.
The problem with Tattersons reserve was that it was not needed. If they sold it then there would be no 'hole' in the suburbs that would mean people would have to walk more than 400 meters to get to a suburban reserve.
The council monitored the park for several days and recorded the number of users. They concluded that since the park had very little patronage, it was open to being sold.
The reason why they wanted to sell Tatterson's reserve was so they would have money to extend one of their 'linear reserves' or 'linear trails'. There is something of a 'choke' point in the Glen Gully Linear Reserve that the council wants to widen. Land is available for sale to do just that, and the council wanted to buy it.
This was their reason for wanting to sell Tattersons Reserve.
What do you make of all this?
Where is Manningham focussing it's efforts and resources? On people or on wildlife?
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