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Urban Biodiversity Strategy 2013 2023

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Other issues

  • Myrtle Rust is a fungal disease introduced from South America and now well established in Australia. The rust spores are bright yellow and appear first on young growth. The spores spread easily in the wind and on clothing. Myrtle Rust affects plant species from the Myrtacae family which includes eucalypts, bottlebrush, tea tree and many other species. Council is cooperating with the Victorian Department of Primary Industry (DPI) to monitor the spread of this potentially devastating disease.

  • Foxes are established in Boroondara and are efficient predators of native wildlife.

  • Indian Mynas are well established in Boroondara and are highly aggressive and complete with native fauna for nesting hollows.

  • Feral bees (honey bees that have left managed hives) compete with native fauna for tree hollows and for nectar and pollen.

  • Dieback in large old trees is caused by drought stress, over grazing by possums (stressed trees exude sweet leaf exudates that attracts possums) and out of control populations of lerps (normally controlled by small insect eating birds). Signs of dieback include a loss of tree canopy and decline in overall tree health.

  • Biodiversity values may compete with other open space uses. For example, indigenous flora such as grasses and wildflowers need to be left unmown long enough to allow flowering and seed setting. This competes with the expectation from some community members about mowing of public open space.

Significant opportunities

Investing in an 'asset management' approach to biodiversity protection

Biodiversity sites can be viewed as natural assets requiring ongoing maintenance and renewal. To improve the ecological function and connectivity of these assets, adjacent zones that were previously mown or under-maintained could be managed to regenerate or be revegetated.

Council has developed a draft Biodiversity Asset Management Plan (BAMP) that establishes a detailed baseline of the extent and condition of all the biodiversity sites ('assets') identified in the flora and fauna inventory and/or Biodiversity Corridors Plan and through research associated with preparation of the BAMP. It provides a long-term framework for a staged approach to improving the condition and connectivity of areas currently managed for biodiversity as well as a strategy for managing new zones at existing biodiversity sites and some new sites as well. The BAMP outlines the long-term potential, given adequate resourcing, for up to 65 hectares of Council land to be managed for biodiversity outcomes.

Strengthening protection of biodiversity corridors and sites through statutory measures

A significant opportunity exists to revise the Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) within the Boroondara Planning Scheme to reflect updated objectives and strategies for biodiversity protection across the City and to propose more effective policies and resources to guide decision-making by statutory planning staff.

Protection of significant ecological sites along the Yarra River was strengthened through gazettal of the Victorian Planning Provisions Amendment VC96 in October 2012. This Amendment to the State Planning Framework and Boroondara Planning Scheme imposes controls on land development (including maximum building heights) and indigenous vegetation removal along the Yarra River Corridor. It is an interim Amendment, and open to consultation until 31 October 2014.

Beyond the areas protected by Amendment VC96, The Inventory and Assessment of Indigenous Flora and Fauna in Boroondara clearly identifies other sites and corridors that warrant protection through the application of revised zones and overlays.

Relevant overlays currently in the Boroondara Planning Scheme include:

  • Environmental Significance Overlay (ESO)

Schedule 1: Yarra River Corridor Protection (New)

Schedule 2: Beckett Park Environmental Significance Area

  • Design and Development Overlay (DDO)

Schedule 31: Yarra River Corridor Protection (New)

  • Vegetation Protection Overlay (VPO)

Schedule 1: Willsmere Vegetation Protection Area

Schedule 2: Kew Residential Services Significant Protection Overlay

The habitat quality of biodiversity corridors is dependent on more than the public land footprint they occur on. The habitat in (private) gardens can make a significant contribution to the value of a corridor. An animal will not differentiate between habitats based on legal lines created by humans. (Kern 2012)

Engaging golf course managers and schools in biodiversity protection

Golf courses in Boroondara present an important biodiversity opportunity because of their size and proximity to the Yarra River and because it is feasible to accommodate a great golfing experience as well as significant habitat improvements. Boroondara's private golf courses are critical sites for local biodiversity providing some of the best examples of large old indigenous trees and threatened flora and fauna. Staff and committees of management must be encouraged and supported to protect and enhance their natural assets. Work undertaken by Council at Freeway Golf Course provides an excellent model.

Schools (especially those located along the Yarra River) provide a unique opportunity to involve students and staff in restoring remnant vegetation and increasing local biodiversity on school grounds.

Improving water quality through a more 'water sensitive city'

Integrating Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) into new developments, streetscape renewals and landscapes on Council and private land helps address 'urban stream syndrome'. Many design options, such as constructed wetlands and raingardens, can also provide valuable new habitat. Strategic opportunities and targets are now being explored as part of developing an Integrated Water Management Plan for Boroondara. Strengthening partnerships and advocacy with stakeholders such as Melbourne Water and other municipalities in our catchment is a critical part of this work.

Protecting significant trees

Boroondara's Tree Protection Local Law protects large canopy trees on private and public land and those registered on Council's Significant Tree Register. Further promotion could lead to many more trees on public and private land being nominated and assessed for inclusion on the Significant Tree Register. Significant trees identified in the Inventory and Assessment of Indigenous Flora and Fauna in Boroondara should also be included on this Register.

Increasing indigenous vegetation in our streetscapes

As Boroondara's street trees age and need replacing in residential areas, there are opportunities (where appropriate) to use indigenous or native species that will ultimately provide better habitat, especially in streets adjacent to or linking up existing biodiversity corridors. Encouraging residents to establish and maintain (appropriate) indigenous plantings on nature strips could also increase local biodiversity and showcase indigenous plants.

Increasing community participation in local biodiversity projects

Within our community there are residents of all ages passionate about protecting the natural environment. We need to harness this interest and support community education activities, planting projects and increasing volunteer opportunities. Residents with some experience or knowledge should also be able to contribute to biodiversity monitoring through simple data collection and surveys in local reserves.

Objectives and related strategies

To progress the strategy's Vision, four overarching objectives have been identified. A combination of strategies are proposed as a means to achieve each objective. Example actions have also been set out below to illustrate how the various strategies could be delivered.

Objective 1: To protect and enhance biodiversity on public land

Related strategies

  • Protect and restore remnant vegetation and existing ecologically significant sites for habitat and ecological values. For example, by:

    • Progressively implementing a Biodiversity Asset Management Plan (BAMP) to improve habitat condition of remnant vegetation and existing areas under biodiversity management.

    • Installing signage at remnant vegetation sites that are actively managed to alert mowing contractors.

  • Extend revegetation to improve connectivity between biodiversity sites and along corridors. For example, by:

    • Progressively extending management to new zones within existing biodiversity sites without compromising recreational opportunities.

    • Continuing to work with other public land managers (Melbourne Water, Parks Victoria, VicTrack) to enhance habitat condition and connectivity across the municipality.

    • Investigating private land acquisition, especially along waterway corridors, where the land purchase would benefit corridor function.

  • Respond to existing issues (e.g. foxes, significant weeds) and emerging threats (e.g. Myrtle Rust) to indigenous flora and fauna.

  • Protect our waterways as natural landscapes and for their ecological values. For example, by:

    • Developing an Integrated Water Management Strategy to support transition to urban form and landscapes that mimic natural hydrological regimes, improve water quality and provide biodiversity co-benefits.

  • Protect significant habitat trees on public and private land. For example, by:

    • Encouraging residents to nominate trees to Boroondara's Significant Tree Register.

    • Increasing community awareness of the Tree Protection Local Law.

  • Use streetscapes to support indigenous flora and fauna, especially in streets adjacent to and near biodiversity corridors.

Objective 2: To reduce land use and development impacts on biodiversity

Related strategies

  • Prepare an amendment to the Boroondara Planning Scheme (in particular Clause 21-06 Natural Environment) to reflect the Urban Biodiversity Strategy (2013) as adopted.

  • Ensure that development within and adjacent to sensitive ecological sites and designated biodiversity corridors considers the protection and management of indigenous flora and fauna values. For example, by:

    • Reviewing the effectiveness of existing zones and overlays over significant sites and waterways.

    • Investigating the development of an Environmental Significance Overlay or other relevant overlay to better protect sites of biological significance as related waterway corridors.

  • Ensure new developments in the municipality use water sensitive urban design principles and onsite stormwater management infrastructure to reduce stormwater runoff and control pollution entering waterways.

Objective 3: To increase community support for biodiversity protection and enhancement

Related strategies

  • Promote and deliver community education projects and activities that encourage positive behaviours and values towards biodiversity conservation.

  • Encourage indigenous restoration, revegetation and gardening across the municipality. For example, by:

    • Providing indigenous plant vouchers and other habitat gardening resources to residents, schools, Friends Groups members and businesses.

    • Continuing to roll-out the Backyard Biodiversity Project or similar to residents living around biodiversity corridors.

  • Design and install educational signage at strategic sites to promote key natural history messages and support management objectives.

  • Encourage responsible pet ownership to minimise the impact of domestic pets on native fauna and their breeding habitat.

  • Work with Friends groups and other community organisations that contribute to biodiversity conservation locally and engage residents in biodiversity actions.

  • Encourage private land owners with significant habitat (eg golf clubs, schools etc) to protect, manage and enhance indigenous flora and fauna habitat.

Objective 4: To ensure policy decision making and actions are based on sound knowledge and up-to-date evidence

Related strategies

  • Identify monitoring processes for individual sites and for ecological values across the City to demonstrate progress and measure overall effectiveness. For example, by developing a monitoring framework to facilitate the gathering and analysis of data on biodiversity improvements across the City.

  • Support the technical (ie. ecological) knowledge and capacity of staff, contractors and Friends Group volunteers.

  • Review and update key guiding documents to address remaining gaps in knowledge and data.

  • Contribute data to relevant state and national biodiversity inventories.

Implementation and monitoring

Our implementation plan

An associated implementation plan will guide Council actions to achieve the high level objectives and strategies set out in this document. As well as some of the actions identified on previous pages, there may be additional actions drawn from analysis of the community consultation feedback. The implementation plan will phase actions over the ten year life of the strategy. A review of the strategy's implementation will take place in 2018.

Monitoring implementation and impacts of this strategy

An early action will be to develop a monitoring framework for this strategy (recommended action under Objective 4, p 24). Staff will then be able to measure and progressively report on the impact of the new strategy including the BAMP implementation.

Monitoring can:

  • Provide tangible evidence of outcomes to those involved in on-ground restoration and management, and highlight opportunities to improve projects or practice.

  • Provide evidence of long term trends.

  • Capture conservation success stories to share with the community.

A range of progress indicators could be developed and monitored, including:

  • Biodiversity asset management:

    • number of indigenous plants planted ( by Council and contractors), as well as through Friends groups and community planting events 2

    • number of sites/corridors being actively managed

    • square metres/hectares being actively managed

    • condition of sites being actively managed

    • dollars invested by Council and external funders.

  • Land use and development impacts:

  • Number of planning permit applications referred for assessment against planning scheme triggers in the Natural Environment Section of the MSS and associated Amendments.

  • Community awareness and engagement:

    • community engagement activities undertaken by Council (number of activities and participants, participant feedback)

    • community-based biodiversity initiatives and interest groups eg within Schools, Friends Groups, Backyard Biodiversity groups (number of initiatives/groups, participation, feedback)

    • data on illegal dumping of weeds, nominations to the Significant Tree Register, Tree Protection Local Law, VINC voucher redemption etc.

Monitoring ecosystem health over time

Monitoring environmental changes such as condition of vegetation and diversity and abundance of species helps build a picture of local biodiversity losses and gains over time. However, comprehensive and robust monitoring of changes in ecosystem health is complex and costly.

A more rigorous approach to monitoring improvements in habitat, flora and fauna abundance on public land managed for biodiversity needs consideration. The best available baseline data at many sites is captured with the BAMP and Inventory and Assessment of Indigenous Flora and Fauna. Possible approaches include seasonal/annual monitoring at selected (indicative) sites, including monitoring abundance of particular target species. Data could be collected using photo points, site condition assessments, and follow-up flora and fauna surveys.

To track how the environment and indigenous biodiversity is faring across the entire City is particularly challenging. Are the collective efforts across all public and private land actually maintaining or improving biodiversity values? A data collection framework that is useful for both site and landscape scale analysis will be the most efficient way to address this broader question. Projects undertaken using the immense data collected over 20 years in the Australian Bird Atlas provide some of the best examples of what is possible.

In addition to monitoring undertaken directly by Council officers alone, there is potential to access data collected by contractors, Friends Groups, not for profit organisations, ecological consultants and government departments, some of whom may already be recording and collecting information in the local area. Residents with professional expertise or amateur skills may be willing to assist. Encouraging such 'citizen science' to gather valuable data can potentially save money and also help engage and empower local communities.

The key is to ensure that an overall monitoring process and framework is developed so that many parties of different skills can contribute. Professional ecologists may need to develop the methods and framework and undertake analysis but the data can come from diverse sources.


Boroondara City Council (2003). Biodiversity Strategy 2003

Boroondara City Council (2005). Biodiversity Corridors Plan 2005

Boroondara City Council (2012). Draft Biodiversity Asset Management Plan (BAMP) 2012 (internal document)

Boroondara City Council (2011), Biodiversity Strategy Review (2011)

Boroondara City Council (2012). Draft Boroondara Open Space Strategy (BOSS)

Boroondara City Council (2012). Guide to Recognising and Controlling Weeds

Boroondara City Council (2012). Backyard Biodiversity- Guideline for creating a wildlife-friendly garden in Boroondara

Boroondara City Council (2012). Planning Scheme Review (internal document)

Boroondara City Council (2010). Tree Policy

Boroondara City Council Tree Protection Local Law 1F

Boroondara City Council (2012). City of Boroondara Thematic Environmental History: May 2012

ANTar Boroondara (2008). Boroondara Connections: Stories of Aboriginal Connection by Residents of Boroondara. Published by ANTar Boroondara

Eastern Alliance of Greenhouse Action (EAGA) (2010). Bushland and Urban Biodiversity Management in a Changing Climate. Copy of a summary report and full reports can be found on the Municipal Association of Victoria website

Ehrlich PR and RM Pringle. (2008). Where does biodiversity go from here? A grim business-as-usual forecast and a hopeful portfolio of partial solutions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 105: 11579-11586.

Kern, L (2012) Protecting and enhancing Biodiversity in Boroondara: Existing Planning Provisions and Potential Strategies. Report prepared for Boroondara City Council.(internal document)

Lorimer, G. (2006). Inventory and Assessment of Indigenous Flora and Fauna in Boroondara. Report prepared for Boroondara City Council

Lindenmayer D. And P. Gibbons. (2012). Biodiversity Monitoring in Australia, CSIRO Publishing (224 pages).

1 See City of Boroondara: Thematic Environmental History of Boroondara (May 2012) for detailed information on the history of Boroondara including early land use, nature conservation and settlement.

2 Note: This type of reporting provides an indication of investment and effort but provides no indication of longer term impacts. One of the major difficulties with reporting on plants in the ground is that extraneous factors such as unprecedented rainfall, flooding and subsequent growth of weeds has a major impact on regeneration and revegetation.

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