Grow West is a long-term, collaborative environmental program working to rejuvenate degrade landscapes in the Upper Werribee Catchment and create vegetation connections between the YouYangs Regional Park, Brisbane Ranges National Park, Werribee Gorge State Park and Lerderderg State Park.
Grow West works with landholders and the community to undertake large-scale revegetation, pest plant and animal control, erosion mitigation works, community engagement activities (including the annual Grow West Community Planting Day) and landholder education. Since 2003, Grow West has planted 1.3 million trees and shrubs over 2,833 hectares and engaged over 3000 volunteers. Grow West is supported by a range of government agencies, non-government organisations and community groups that fund and deliver coordinated small and large-scale projects and on-ground works.
This project was originally hosted by the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA. The PPWCMA was integrated into Melbourne Water in January 2022 and Melbourne Water is now the host agency.
Why this program is important
The Grow West area covers a diversity of landscapes, from alluvial river flats and rolling pastures to slight slopes to steep gorges.
The fertile plains are utilised by larger landholders who generally crop, while the alluvial flats are subjected to more intensive agriculture (vegetable growing and orchards) who access irrigated water from the Werribee and Lerderderg rivers. The area faces numerous challenges, including population growth, with the expansion of Melbourne along the western corridor putting pressure on communities, agricultural land and native vegetation.
The drier slopes in the rural areas tend to be less arable due to accessibility and soil type hence making it more challenging to manage and very costly. In addition, as semi-rural areas are subdivided into smaller lifestyle properties, knowledge and skills in natural resource management are lost. This leads to an increase in invasive pest animals and plants and the degradation of remnant native vegetation. Grow West works with landowners to design and deliver revegetation and rehabilitation projects that suit the requirements of their individual properties while transforming the landscapes back into a living space for native plants and animals alongside thriving local communities with a great future.
Melbourne Water coordinates Grow West on behalf of its partners, which include local government, government agencies and community groups.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
Southern Rural Water
Moorabool Shire Council
Conservation Volunteers Australia
Moorabool Landcare Network
Grow West works in 50,000 hectare area of land between Bacchus Marsh and Ballan, straddling the Western Highway and 60km west of Melbourne.