New conservation area
The Victorian Government is working to create a new Conservation Area in the Yarra Valley and southern Dandenong Ranges by using existing public land.
The Conservation Area will be crucial in providing new habitat for our 2 critically endangered faunal emblems: the Helmeted Honeyeater and lowland Leadbeaters Possum.
This isn’t your typical conservation reserve!
Unlike most conservation reserves, which consist of one large continuous block of land, the new conservation area will be made up of many narrow wildlife corridors that connect existing major reserves.
We will be creating these wildlife corridors by revegetating Crown-owned streamside areas. The map shows the area our future conservation area will cover, and what it will look like.
Protecting our faunal emblems
Wildlife corridors are vitally important to the Helmeted Honeyeater and lowland Leadbeaters Possum.
There are a number of existing reserves in the Yarra Valley and southern Dandenong Ranges landscape that provide ideal habitat for the Helmeted Honeyeater and lowland Leadbeaters Possum. However, neither animal can travel between the reserves without wildlife corridors, which threatens the long-term survival of both species.
Helmeted Honeyeaters need well-vegetated corridors to move through to avoid predators. Their ideal habitat is riverside or swampy areas.
Unlike some other small possums that can glide between trees, Leadbeaters Possums depend on areas of directly connecting vegetation to move through their home range.
Improving ecological values in the Yarra Valley and southern Dandenong Ranges
Creating the Conservation Area will greatly improve the ecological values of the area. Grazing licences are being phased out to improve the water quality of our rivers and streams, as well as improve the quality and quantity of native vegetation along the waterways.
Improving the condition of streamside land helps in many ways, such as by offering shade from trees which keeps water temperatures low.
Yellingbo Conservation Area Governance
In response to recommendations made by an independent review of the Yellingbo Conservation Area Coordinating Committee (YCACC) in late 2018, the Victorian Government implemented new governance arrangements for the YCA.
The independent review recommended that consideration be given to replacing YCACC with a coordinating committee of land managers focussed on coordinating land management works in the YCA; and the creation of a community reference group.
Yarra4Life Coordination Committee
In April 2019, the Yarra4Life Coordination Committee agreed to assume the role of coordinating committee of land managers for the YCA. Yarra4Life is 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.
The Yarra4Life project area has significant overlap with the geographic area of the YCA. The Yarra4Life Project is coordinated by the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority (PPWCMA) on behalf of its project partners. The Coordination Committee meets on a quarterly basis.
Yellingbo Conservation Area Community Reference Group
In December 2019, 11 members were appointed to form the new Yellingbo Conservation Area Community Reference Group (YCACRG). The CRG has been established to assist DELWP and Parks Victoria with effective community engagement during the establishment of the Yellingbo Conservation Area.
Members of the CRG were appointed on the basis of their high-level skills and experience in areas including conservation, agriculture and horticulture, recreation, tourism, Aboriginal cultural values and fire risk management and control. The YCACRG will hold quarterly meetings, beginning in February 2020.
Developing a management plan for the Conservation Area
DELWP is currently working with its partner agencies to create a 10 Year Plan for the ongoing management of the Conservation Area.
Over the last 2 years, we have been engaging with all Victorians to ask their thoughts on key aspects of the plan, including what recreational activities are appropriate and what cultural values should be included. You can read more about these discussions at engage.vic.gov.au
The major reserves that will be connected with wildlife corridors are:
- Coranderrk Nature Conservation Reserve
- Warramate Hills Nature Conservation Reserve
- Haining Farm
- Hoddles Education Area
- Beenak Bushland Reserve
- Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve
- Wright Forest Bushland Reserve.
Previously, we have been referring to the new Conservation Area as the Yellingbo Conservation Area. However, the community has let us know this name is confusing because the new Conservation Area spans a much greater area than the existing Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve.
Currently there is no official registered name for the Conservation Area. We are working with the Wurundjeri Tribe Council to create a new name for the Conservation Area.
The Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve is one of the reserves that will be connected with a wildlife corridor as part of the new Conservation Area.
It is located 45 km east of Melbourne in the Upper Yarra Valley, and it is managed by Parks Victoria.
Haining Farm used to be a dairy farm owned by philanthropist Sir John T Reid, who used his farm to educate school children about dairy farming processes. Sir Reid donated the land in 1974 to all of the people of Victoria, to be managed by the Victorian Conservation Trust, now known as Trust for Nature. Over time, management of Haining Farm became the responsibility of Parks Victoria.
Sir John Reid’s wishes were “for Haining Farm to be available to all Victorians for conservation, science and education”.
Parks Victoria and a number of conservation groups found that Haining Farm had ideal ecological values to become habitat for the Helmeted Honeyeater.
Parks Victoria is currently developing Haining Farm to enhance its conservation and recreational values. View the development plan.
DELWP and Parks Victoria have been engaging with the local community and all Victorians about the future use of this area. You can follow the conversation at: https://engage.vic.gov.au/haining-farm
The only revegetation that will be taking place as part of creating the Conservation Area will be the revegetation of streamside areas (also known as riparian areas) and revegetation at Haining Farm (see above FAQ).
In many cases streamside vegetation will slow the spread of fire compared to neighbouring open grassland or crops. This is due to the presence of trees and shrubs which, which filter embers and reduce wind speed, combined with the likely higher moisture content of materials that could catch fire, such as grass, shrubs, etc.
DELWP recognises that the area has an existing high level of bushfire risk. Taking this into account, a Bushfire Risk Management Plan for the area has been prepared that outlines measures to ensure there is no material increase in bushfire risk , as a result of implementing the Conservation Area.
DELWP appreciates the work that landholders have done in managing their Crown land frontage. DELWP and the Yellingbo Project team will continue to work with adjacent landholders to talk about issues such as fencing alignments (between the public and private land) and changes to Crown land frontage licences.
To discuss your situation, email the DELWP Project Manager, Justin Foster.
The former Yellingbo Conservation Area Coordinating Committee (YCACC) developed a website with a number of resources tailored to local landholders, including information on landholder grants and support.
Page last updated: 13/03/20