The Grassy Plains Network today put in a submission to Parks Victoria regarding the new Kororoit Regional Park Strategic Plan. Our hopes are for a park that offers a fabulous, curated grassland experience with excellent visitation rates and educational facilities. Our fears are that the last dozen years of private ownership with no oversight from DELWP have meant the loss of significant biodiversity. The land is fast getting purchased, which is great – at last we might get a good ecological and fauna survey that will reveal the truth and guide the Park design.

The Park is big – xxx hectares, and aims to service a large and growing population. It’s on Wurundjeri country just west of Caroline Springs, includes a length of the beautiful Kororoit Creek and is bounded on the south by the Western Highway. Soon it will be surrounded by new residential development. And it’s mostly grassland, a good chunk of which was (and hopefully still is) high-quality, forb-rich and dominated by Kangaroo Grass.

Kororoit Regional Park is one of the 36 conservation areas set aside as part of the Melbourne Strategic Assessment and defined in the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy (BCS) 2013. Sadly, frustratingly, several of these key outer Melbourne biodiversity sites have been almost completely lost to weeds since the Melbourne Strategic Assessment came along. Woods Road Grassland, Truganina, is a case in point. It is now over-run with Chilean Needle Grass, its patches of Themeda shrinking by the day. It’s in the hands of a developer, receives no management and DELWP has done absolutely nothing to turn the situation around.

Hopefully the tide is turning. The Inquiry into Ecosystem Decline recommended fast-tracking the purchase of the high-quality parcels of the 36 BCS Reserves and the Western Grassland Reserves. Let’s hope the soon to be built urban development next door will be friendly to the conservation values of the Park – we’re talking Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design (BSUD) features such as reduced night-time lighting, fauna road crossings, ecological connectivity, native plantings, no overshadowing, designs that embrace the unique offering right next door. We’ll be pushing for the VPA to include BSUD principles in the soon to commence development of the Kororoit Stage 2 Precinct Structure Plan.

We can’t afford more losses of grassland. Parks Victoria is working hard on Kororoit Regional Park. Let’s hope their vision puts conservation first.