THE biodiversity of the Bellarine’s south-east coastline will be protected and enhanced under a new council strategy, initiated by a Ocean Grove Community Association forum in 2019.
The Southeast Bellarine Coastal Strategy, focused on the nationally significant environment between Ocean Grove and Point Lonsdale, is being developed by the City of Greater Geelong – and local residents can be part of the plan.
Water flows from Bonneyvale wetlands, the wetlands of Lake Victoria through to Swan Bay, coastal moonah woodlands and saltmarsh, and the habitat for the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot, hooded plover and endangered migratory birds will all be key considerations in the strategy development.
The area of Wadawurrung country has extensive and significant cultural heritage and historical sites, and plays a vital role as a dune system in the protection of coastal and climate change impacts.
The strategy will also consider the vision statement developed by OGCA following its forum two years ago on future development in the area, and opportunities and risks to the Southern Bellarine Coastal Trail.
Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher said the strategy project closely aligned with the council’s Sustainability Framework Action Plan.
“Clever and creative natural resource management is key to protecting our world-class biodiversity and environment,” Cr Asher said.
“This is a very exciting concept and one that has clear public interest, given it was initially proposed by the Ocean Grove Community Association.
“I’m looking forward to hearing residents’ ideas for how we enhance the different ecosystems and what the potential opportunities are for this vital conservation area.”
City environment portfolio chair Cr Jim Mason said interested community members could first provide their input via a stakeholder survey and usage mapping tool.
“We are very keen to gather a wide range of views about how to improve the values of this wonderful asset,” Cr Mason said.
“There are a lot of issues to consider in developing a long-term vision that best covers the conservation, heritage, cultural and recreational elements of the area.”
The city has allocated $160,000 for the facilitation, engagement, investigation and development of the strategy, which coincides with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Distinctive Area Landscape Project
Wadawurrung Traditional Owners, land managers, private landowners and the wider community will be consulted during the strategy development.
The online survey can be completed via the city’s website, with community consultation sessions planned for August 22 at Shell Road Pavilion, Ocean Grove, August 23 and August 24 at the Lonsdale Links Golf Club, along with site tours and other opportunities in coming months.