Yarra Strategic Plan launched
Melbourne Water has been appointed as the lead agency to oversee the implementation of the Yarra Strategic Plan that was launched by Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, on Friday 11 February.
The plan represents a partnership with Traditional Owners − the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and Bunurong − and is underpinned by legislation, a 50-year community vision, and the establishment of the Birrarung Council in 2018, which consists of Traditional Owners and community representatives to oversee the plan.
A total of 14 state and local agencies will now have a role in managing the Yarra River corridor. The collaborative approach is reflected in the name Burndap Birrarung burndap umarkoo – which means “what is good for the Yarra is good for all”.
Since February 2017, Melbourne Water has led the development of the plan and produced outcomes such as mapping of the values and land uses; the watering of Bolin Bolin Billabong; permanent planning protections and secured funding for priority projects.
Melbourne Water Managing Director Dr Nerina Di Lorenzo said that now more than ever we have come to appreciate our local waterways, their parks and playgrounds and their offer of a place for people to connect with nature and each other.
“The Yarra River, Birrarung, together with its parklands, is the lifeblood of Melbourne and is facing big challenges that this plan will tackle. The Yarra Strategic Plan will better protect the river and its parklands from the impacts of climate change, urbanisation, and population growth,” Dr Di Lorenzo said.
“This landmark plan brings together land use planning and waterway management for the first time to better protect the natural beauty and health of the Birrarung.”
Challenges from the effects of climate change and the pressures of population growth on the Yarra River include:
- a dramatic and long-term decline in rainfall;
- more frequent extreme weather events in Victoria, including droughts, floods and heatwaves;
- less water entering the waterways; and
- increases in population and associated infrastructure.
“This plan lays a strong foundation for the Yarra River and its parklands to face these challenges and achieve the 50-year community vision for the Birrarung,” Dr Di Lorenzo said.
The initial priority projects for the plan are:
- Floatlands Project - construct floating wetlands and riparian habitat in the city.
- Birrarung Rangers Project lead by Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung - a self-determined, capacity building and employment program for Traditional Owners along the Yarra River.
- Yering Billabongs Project - stormwater wetlands constructed to connect the rural floodplain to the Yarra River.
- Yarra Flats Concept Plan Project - rewater remnant suburban billabongs and design a long-term solution for their watering needs.