To deliver a healthy conservation landscape through the establishment of the Conservation Area, there must be a strong focus on coordinated management. This means working across government agencies such as Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Melbourne Water, Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority (PPWCMA) and Zoos Victoria to support and enhance each agency’s projects. It also means working with community conservation groups and private landowners to deliver projects that have mutual benefits for the Conservation Area as well as surrounding people and communities.
Coordinated management is a key objective of the Conservation Area. In response to the VEAC Yellingbo Investigation, the Victorian government supported the recommendations to better integrate public land management and improve co-ordination in order to better protect biodiversity and ecological values. A new governance model, the Yellingbo Conservation Area Coordinating Committee (YCACC), was established to improve coordination and collaboration between land managers, other agencies, and community groups involved in the management of the Conservation Area. Through Trust for Nature representation on YCACC assistance is provided for private landowners to achieve conservation caveats and access support for a range of services including: mapping, planting, monitoring and weed management. This work on private land is especially important where the crown land reservation is less than 30 metres or where there is a gap in the public land available for essential wildlife corridors where the Trust for Nature can assist with the purchase of private land to be included in the Conservation Area.
The model allows for the development clear overarching objectives, cross tenure planning and building on existing work. The combined resources and expertise of the agencies and community represented on YCACC is a powerful asset in the establishment of the Conservation Area and YCACC has been able to establish a clear vision and the plans required by the Committee Terms of Reference. Much progress has been made through strengthening in existing inter agency relationships. However, formalised commitment, transparency, understanding accountabilities and operational constraints, and understanding opportunities to partner for future investment in the Conservation Area are required to further build the culture of coordination.
Establishing the Conservation Area will require the further detailed development of agency partnerships, partnerships with Traditional Owners, community groups and private landowners.
The Victorian Government Response to VEAC’s Yellingbo Investigation Final Report supports the recommendation that, in the first instance, the National Parks Act 1975 will be amended as required to establishment of management agreements with public authorities to manage specified land, and conservation agreements with adjacent landholders, for land within 100 metres of both a permanent waterway and the private land boundary (DEPI, 2014, p. 5). The relevant public land managers through these agreements will continue to have direct management responsibility for the respective public land units, including where that relates to broader scale planning responsibilities such as fire management and planning
Yarra4Life is an exemplar of a collaborative environmental program that aims to improve the quality of land, water and natural habitat in the Yarra Valley and to help protect and enhance the survival of native species in the region. Coordinated by the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority (PPWCMA), the Yarra4Life program is a collaborative partnership with representatives from local government, state government, land managers, Traditional Owners and community groups. Yarra4Life plans, coordinates and delivers cross‐tenure land management projects that improve habitat across the Yarra4Life landscape and provides opportunities to coordinate and connect works, and a forum to share collective knowledge. The program aims to builds connections between our community and the environment, and works with Traditional Owners and incorporate their goals and aspirations for participation in natural resource management into Yarra4Life activities.