Climate and biodiversity top priority for Gippslanders

More than 200 people have provided valuable input into how land, water and biodiversity in the Gippsland region will be managed over the next five years.  

The first stage of a review into the West Gippsland Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS) has concluded with an initial community survey together with a series of focus groups and interviews with community members looking at local issues. 

Over 165 individual survey responses were received, with focus group discussions and interviews providing additional detailed information on community views and perspectives. 

The RCS will provide a road map for government agencies involved in managing the natural environment up to 2027 and builds upon the successes and achievements of the previous three RCS documents spanning back to 1997. 

“We’re delighted that so many people took the time to give us their feedback,” said CEO of the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA), Mr Martin Fuller. 

“The survey period and focus groups coincided with not only end of year celebrations but the broader issue of COVID-19, so this is a pleasing initial response at what has been a difficult time for the community,” added Mr Fuller. 

The focus of the initial survey was to highlight the issues that individuals felt needed attention in six distinct ‘local areas  

While there are differences in priorities of each local area, the survey also provided useful insights about community concerns across Gippsland 

Results indicate that invasive plants and animals and the decline in biodiversity are viewed as the greatest challenges for land, water and biodiversity in the region.  

Climate change, resulting in the increased risk of fire, warmer and drier climate and more frequent or intense storms and floods were also identified as a key concern across Gippsland  

An important aspect of the RCS will be the inclusion of strategic directions to inform the actions and plans of government and community organisations over the next five years 

Survey results indicate that the top strategic actions for land, water and biodiversity for consideration are: 

  • controlling invasive plants and animals 
  • retaining and restoring native vegetation  
  • fencing waterways and native vegetation and  
  • supporting agricultural practices that improve soil health, productivity and water use efficiency.  

“What’s clear from the very early scanning of the survey results is that people are deeply connected to their local environment and want to see that environment be both protected and enhanced and managed sustainably,” continued Mr Fuller. 

Whether that is the continued work to protect the Gippsland Lakes, sustainable use of our water resources or protection of some of those extra special places such as Wilson’s Prom or the Great Divide and foothills, there is both passion and determination to ensure those areas are preserved for future generations to enjoy,” said Mr Fuller 

The survey results will be analysed further over coming weeks before detailed conversations are held with Traditional Owners, government agencies and community partners.  

From that a draft Regional Catchment Strategy will be developed and shared with the public for further input around September 2021. 

“I must, at the same time as thanking everyone who has been involved so far, stress that there will be opportunity for members of the public to have further input into the development of this plan over coming months,” said Mr Fuller 

More detail about the RCS history and process including ways of staying up to date can be found of the West Gippsland Catchment Authority’s website at wgcma.vic.gov.au  

 

 

Helen Hasty, standing in a tunnel erosion hole on her property
Climate and biodiversity top priority for Gippslanders