Biodiversity in Glen Eira 2013

The last three decades has seen changing community values. Scientific knowledge and cultural understanding have altered the way we perceive and interact with our natural environment. It is now accepted that protecting nature is important, and that our local governments have an important role to play in conservation and protection of our local plants and animals. Local government is well placed to commit resources and to implement strategies to achieve worthwhile outcomes that both benefit the community and protects our natural heritage.

The City of Glen Eira covers a significant area of 38.4 square kilometres of south eastern Melbourne. GeeG would like to see Glen Eira Council take a more active role in protecting and  enhancing our  local biodiversity.  At the present  time Glen Eira Council's role on biodiversity lacks support and the understanding needed to deliver the benefits that a better vegetated Glen Eira will bring to residents. This is at odds with our neighbouring local government areas.

Some councils have already recognized that climate change and higher temperatures will have a significant effect on our urban lives. Melbourne City Council expects a loss of 40% of its existing tree cover to the drying climate, and has put in place an "Urban Forest Strategy" to help ameliorate the expected temperature rise and increase the tree canopy cover across its public open space areas.

GeeG believes that Glen Eira City Council should be planning for much the same situation; in many cases our public open space areas consist of untreed shadeless grassed areas, that have little value as quality public open space. Bare areas should be landscaped with indigenous vegetation to provide valuable habitat and provide quality open space areas for residents.

Once a species is lost it is irretrievable.

People have confused money with wealth. Economists describe natural environment as an ‘externality’. Nothing could be further from the truth. People do not need money, they need clean air, clean water, healthy food, shelter, and clothing. Biodiversity has provided this planet with clean oxygenated air, clean water, food, shelter and clothing. Money has not done that, and cannot. Biodiversity is the basis of a healthy economy, not a cosmetic afterthought. The cost of species loss can be very high. We only have one world. This means we have to transform from a growth (boom/bust) economy to a stable sustainable economy, or suffer the consequences.

The State Governments and more recently the Federal Government of Australia following the COAG Meeting of 30 April 2012, are abandoning even the pretence of maintaining, let alone restoring, biodiversity. This increases the pressure for local governments to do more.

Role of Local Government

1. Adopt Triple Bottom Line (TBL) accounting and modify council spending accordingly.
2. Apply for State/Federal/Corporate grants for remnant indigenous vegetation protection and restoration projects.
3. Create incentives for protection and restoration of native vegetation of local provenance on private land.
4. Set functional targets for public open space and indigenous vegetation (e.g. 3ha per 1000 residents minimum).
5. Maintain indigenous biodiversity (e.g. remnant trees & bushland) where it exists as the cheapest & most efficient m
6. Restore areas of indigenous vegetation of local provenance on public land (e.g. street trees, parks).
7. Include council biodiversity officers (botanists, zoologists) on planning committees
8. Eliminate and reduce pest species – weeds, birds, fish, animals.
9. Minimise herbicide use, especially in remnant or restored vegetation.
10. Create open space and indigenous vegetation links between vegetated public open spaces.
11. Encourage community participation in the creation of public space (by donation, legacy, etc)
12. Encourage public participation in management of public land (c.f . Parks Victoria, City of Port Phillip).
13. Restore creeks to open channels and install water retention areas.
14. Link indigenous vegetation areas in similar areas in neighbouring councils e.g. along Elster Creek, and Murrumbeena creek.
15. Restore indigenous aquatic species to ponds and waterways.
16. Require functional permeable area and indigenous vegetation for residential developments
17. Run education programs on biodiversity.
18. Glen Eira has an ageing population and needs more passive open space, which can also be planted with local indigenous plants.
19. Monitor flora and fauna species in Glen Eira systematically so there is a scientific basis for management of biodiversity.