Draft Ballarat Biodiversity Strategy open for consultation

The Draft Ballarat Biodiversity Strategy – Healing Country Together has been released for community review and feedback.

The draft strategy maps out a future for biodiversity across the municipality, outlining actions that will protect and strengthen Ballarat’s natural environment.

This strategy will help guide the management and protection of the region’s unique landscapes and species, and is the first co-designed strategy the City of Ballarat has delivered in partnership with Wadawurrung and alongside the Country Plans of the Wadawurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owners.

The City of Ballarat held extensive community consultation in the development of the Draft Ballarat Biodiversity Strategy – Healing Country Together late last year, including hosting a Young People’s Forum with 20 participants.

As part of the community consultation, more than 100 surveys were completed, more than 20 detailed submissions were made, 30 community members representing active community groups attended workshop discussions and more than 70 City of Ballarat employees contributed to an ideas workshops.

The consultation helped guide the development of a number of key recommendations, including:

  • Keeping and adding more plantings while raising the capacity of the City of Ballarat and the community to support biodiversity in the short term.

    Actions include formally collaborating with Wadawurrung and Djaara, guidelines for nature-strip planting and working on public land, increasing volume and access to local native plants and increasing Friends’ Group support and advocacy.

  • Increasing the community’s value of the natural environment to help community groups, the City of Ballarat and authorities improve biodiversity, helping to unlock appetite for bigger projects.

    Actions include adding environmental material to the City of Ballart’s website, supporting new and existing environmental education programs, providing training to City of Ballarat staff around Caring for Country and environmental stewardship, increasing community engagement with the environment and citizen science.

  • Building capacity within the City of Ballarat and to determine priority areas for protection and investment to see larger biodiversity gains in the medium to long-term.

    Actions include identifying and mapping existing environmental assets and priority connections, exploring targeted land acquisitions for environmental gain, developing integrated pest plant and animal strategies, and exploring resourcing and partnership opportunities to restore waterways on private property.

  • Landscape scale restoration to ensure biodiversity survives and thrives in the Ballarat region with climate change. Actions include seeking opportunities to replace hard surfaces with vegetation to create habitat and support local wildlife, supporting further strategic work that supports protection of the environment in the Ballarat Planning Scheme, and opportunities to partner with neighbouring municipalities to connect and restore the environment at a landscape scale.

City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson thanked the community for having their say in the first round of community consultation and encouraged all residents to provide feedback on the Draft Strategy.

“We are all custodians of our municipality’s unique biodiversity,” he said.

“Taking positive action today will shape a sustainable and brighter future for our tomorrow.

“We look forward to implementing the Biodiversity Strategy and achieving outcomes that will ensure we improve the way we care for and restore a healthy environment.”

Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation Gherrang/Biodiversity Project Officer, Gobata Dja (Caring for Country) team and Wadawurrung Woman Kelly Ann Blake said ‘Wadawurrung people are committed to taking care of Country as our ancestors did before us’.

“We ask everyone to walk beside us and work with us to protect and heal Country,” she said.

“During the development of the Ballarat Biodiversity Engagement Strategy, the City of Ballarat Council team walked beside us with open minds and hearts. Together, we have created a strong approach that will sow the seeds of healing and restoring Country.

“Biodiversity is the spirit of Country – a delicate web of relationships and interdependencies.

“Our traditional ecological knowledges such as Cultural fire practices and the care of our waterways emphasise the sacred interconnected system that demands respect and care.

“We ask the community of Ballarat and surrounds to join us in caring for Country that we all love – together, we can weave healing and restoration through Wadawurrung Dja, for future generations.”

The Draft Strategy is based on current science and direction by the State Government’s Protecting Victoria’s Environment -Biodiversity 2037.

In 2022, Council adopted the Biodiversity Vision and Commitment, paving the way for the development of the Biodiversity Strategy.

The Biodiversity Strategy will align with the Council Plan 2021-2025 goal to ‘develop policy guidance on biodiversity and natural resources management’ and supports the Ballarat Strategy 2040.

Feedback from our community will inform the final Biodiversity Strategy, which is expected to go before Council for consideration later this year.

Have your say on the Draft Ballarat Biodiversity Strategy until 5pm, Tuesday 30 April at mysay.ballarat.vic.gov.au/biodiversity-strategy.

You can also pick-up a printed copy of the survey at City of Ballarat sites, including Customer Service and Ballarat Libraries.

/Public Release. View in full here.