The upper Yarra River communities should be commended on their actions to stave off the Andrews Government’s ill-conceived and controversial plans to extend the Yellingbo Conservation Area.
While the communities and the Yarra Waterways Group members advocating on their behalf can take a sigh of relief, for now, there are more issues to be resolved.
In recent months, I have met with the Yarra Waterways Group to assist in informing the Government its revegetation plans for the proposed Yellingbo extension area were exposing the district to extraordinary risk, in what is known to be the world’s second highest bushfire risk area.
As a result of raising these concerns and extensive advocacy, the Government yesterday announced a “new approach” to its revegetation plans in the northeast corner of the proposed extended Yellingbo Conservation Area, which included the townships of Yarra Junction, Launching Place, Don Valley, Millgrove and Wesburn.
While there will be a number of practical, on-the-ground changes, the announcement of consultative changes are encouraging, even though it makes one wonder why they hadn’t been considered earlier.
As such, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will seek to partner with local landholders and interest groups, such as Landcare. And membership of the Yellingbo Conservation Area Coordinating Committee will now include two new members, one from the CFA and a community member nominated by Yarra Ranges Council.
The immediate operational changes include:
- revegetation only to a maximum of 10 metres on each side of a waterway, in the streamside areas
- no revegetation within the north-east corner of the conservation area until the bushfire planning process is complete
- riparian management licences issued on an individual basis for a maximum 10 years to replace grazing licences
- prioritising on-ground works to support bushfire and pest management.