What is VEAC?
VEAC is an independent council that conducts investigations at the request of the Victorian Government and makes recommendations on the protection and ecologicaly sustainable management of the environment and natural resource on public land. More information about VEAC and its investigations are available on their website: http://www.veac.vic.gov.au/
What was VEAC asked to investigate?
In August 2011, The Minister for Environment and Climate Change requested the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) to investigate public land in the Yellingbo area.
The focus of the investigation was to; identify the biodiversity and ecological values in the Yellingbo area; identify the current and likely future threats to these values and opportunities to remove these threats; and to make recommendations for appropriate management arrangements to conserve and enhance the biodiversity and ecological values.
As part of the consultation process, a Community Reference Group was formed and the community were able to provide comment on draft reports. The first submission period closed on 20 February 2012. These submissions assisted in the development of the Draft Proposals paper which was released for public comment on Thursday 6 December 2012. The second submission period closed on 25 March 2013 and seventy-nine submissions were received in response to the draft proposals paper.
In July 2013, the State Government released the VEAC Yellingbo Final Investigation Report. The Government response was released in March 2014, endorsing the final report and accepting all of the recommendations in full or in principle. The government is committed to implement its recommendations, including the creation of a new conservation area.
In December 2015, the Yellingbo Conservation Area Coordinating Committee (YCACC), was established to coordinate the implementation of the final recommendations detailed in the Yellingbo Final Investigation Report.
The VEAC Yellingbo Investigation Final Report details the recommendations and is available http://ycacc.com.au/veac/final-report/.
What is the government response?
The government supports all of VEAC’s recommendations in full or in principle. Implementation aims to improve the conservation of the area’s significant biodiversity and ecological values, including the critically endangered Helmeted Honeyeater and Lowland Leadbeaters Possum. A link to the government response is found here:
The Yellingbo Conservation Area will be established under the National Parks Act 1975 and a coordinating committee has been set up to better coordinate the management of public land in the area and involve the community.
Why is the Yellingbo Conservation Area being established?
The Yellingbo Conservation Area is being established to assist in the conservation of the area’s significant biodiversity and ecological values, including the critically endangered Helmeted Honeyeater and the Lowland Leadbeater’s Possum. It will also result in improved water quality and river health. Direct stock access to waterways can affect river health and water quality by introducing pathogens and nutrients from stock faeces and urine, causing an increased risk of disease. Stock access can also cause erosion and the disturbance of stream banks, and the resulting sediment can harm aquatic life and cause ecosystem damage.
When will the new Yellingbo Conservation Area be established?
The Yellingbo Conservation Area will be established after relevant legislation (National Parks Act 1975) has been amended. This is anticipated to happen by the end of 2018.
What areas are included in the Yellingbo Conservation Area?
The Yellingbo Conservation Area will apply to areas of public land defined as the Yellingbo Investigation Area in the VEAC Final Report. Maps are available on VEAC’s website: http://www.veac.vic.gov.au/yellingbomapping/yellingbo.htm
It does not does not apply to private land.
Will I still be able to engage in recreational activities in the new reserves?
Areas that are currently Nature Conservation Reserves (NCR’s) such as: Yellingbo, Warramate Hills, Sassafras Creek and Coranderrk, do not allow hunting, dog walking and horse riding. Other activities such as bushwalking and picnicking are permitted in designated areas.
The VEAC Final Report identified that a range of different conservation areas will be involved in the creation of the Yellingbo Conservation Area. VEAC acknowledged that some existing uses can continue, depending on the environmental values of the reserve. refer to: VEAC Final Report for more details.
Who is represented on the Yellingbo Conservation Area Coordinating Committee and how were they appointed?
The Yellingbo Conservation Area Coordinating Committee includes representatives from Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, Yarra Ranges Council, Cardinia Shire Council, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Zoos Victoria, Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment Management Authority (CMA), Trust for Nature and the community.
There are four community representatives who were nominated by the local councils: three were nominated by Yarra Ranges Council and one nominated by Cardinia Shire Council.
An independent convenor was appointed by the Minister to coordinate the actions of the Coordinating Committee and provides advice on its operation and performance as requested.