On the Cemetery Kangaroos and Moreland Council Biodiversity strategy

Campbellfield Creek

When I started raising concerns about the Kangaroos in Northern memorial Park, I thought this was a fairly simple issue about their welfare in the face of cemetery development.

After a meeting with Cemetery staff I am now reassured about their continuing welfare.

But as I made wider enquiries I discovered further issues with regard to Moreland Council’s lack of action in developing a Biodiversity Strategy.

Kangaroos in Northern memorial Park

Eastern Grey kangaroo mob in Northern Memorial Park

I met with the CEO of the Greater Melbourne Cemetery Trust on the 19th September and inspected the Northern Memorial Cemetery and discussed the issue of the kangaroos.

I was reassured that the monumental grave development will remain at the western end. To the east of this section lawn memorial cemetery areas will be developed. All the River Red Gum trees will remain. A natural vegetation habitat zone will remain around Campbellfield Creek.

The kangaroos are happy to graze on lawns. They also have access through the fence into Jack Roper Reserve. The Kangaroos can also use the vegetation buffer zone under the high voltage electricity transmission towers as an east-west pathway route. The old barbed wire fence under the transmission towers probably needs to be removed.

It would be good for the kangaroos to also have access to Campbellfield Creek flood retention basin wetlands. This area is currently fully fenced by Melbourne Water.

At the meeting it was not disclosed what vegetation or biodiversity assessments have been done specific to this site.

The Victorian Biodiversity Atlas was searched for the Northern Memorial Park extension to see what species had been sighted and recorded. This database identifies 140 species in the Northern Memorial Park extension.

A mixture of introduced and native fauna and flora are present. It includes in particular sightings of the critically endangered Golden Sun Moth, Nankeen Night Heron (near threatened), Grey headed Flying Fox (Vulnerable)

Biodiversity Strategy for Moreland

The City of Moreland currently has 36 threatened species that inhabit or visit our municipality. We share our city with these species. Our interaction with nature is important for our health and well being. We also need to be aware of our co-existence with the species where we live.

My concern for the welfare of the kangaroos in Northern Memorial Park caused me to raise this as a biodiversity and conservation issue with Moreland Councillors Riley and Abboud.

I also delved into the Moreland Council policies and strategies.

The Moreland Open Space Strategy 2012-2022 has an action point to develop a Biodiversity Strategy, a medium priority item for the Open Space Department.

The action point is nestled under the Objective: “Protect and enhance the ecological integrity and sustainability of Moreland’s natural resources, particularly the creek corridors and remaining areas of remnant vegetation” and the Strategy: “Protect and enhance remnant vegetation and habitats in Moreland“.

The action point states: “Prepare and implement a Biodiversity Strategy to identify priority measures for the protection, restoration and enhancement of native plant and animal communities

Given that we are halfway through the Open Space Strategy Moreland Council needed to explain why we don’t appear to have the Biodiversity Strategy in place, ready to inform Council’s actions and apply to conservation of both fauna and flora.

I attended Council meeting on September 12 and asked the following question of Council. From the minutes:

John Englart asks a Question to Council on Biodiversity Strategy

ON17/18 John Englart – Cities with Nature Notice of Motion
The resident asked:
Does Council have a biodiversity officer?
In the Open Space Strategy 2012-2022, there is an action point to develop a Biodiversity Strategy, has this been done?
At the request of the Mayor, Chief Executive Officer, Dr Nerina Di Lorenzo advised:
Council have some officers with this biodiversity expertise for flora across our parks and open space teams and there is further consideration required about how to address fauna matters, as they are less frequent.

The Biodiversity Strategy has not yet been completed. Council will write to you with further information about the progress.

At the invitation of the Mayor, Cr Riley advised work has commenced on the policies structure to make it easier for everyone; community, staff and Councillors, to access the policies and where they intersect.

The Director of City Infrastructure, Grant Thorne, also responded in a letter arising from my question to Council, detailing the many environmental strategies and plans that strategically guide the long-term vision of creating sustainable environments throughout the municipality. These include:
– Zero Carbon Evolution
– Urban Forest Strategy
– Open Space Strategy
– Urban Heat Island Effect Action Plan
– Edgars Creek Conservation and Development Plan
– Merri Creek and Environs Strategy
– Moonee Ponds Creek Strategy
– Chain of Ponds (Consultation Phase)

I am well aware of these policies, but somehow the development of a Biodiversity strategy has managed to slip through the cracks of the council bureaucracy. These things happen. More important tasks are focused upon, and sometimes what seems like minor actions become neglected, then forgotten.

It was pleasing to see that development of a biodiversity strategy is being taken up again.

“Council is currently determining where gaps may lie within the above strategies in regard to biodiversity outcomes and identifying where any additional work is required to prepare a Biodiversity Strategy. This review will be completed this financial year. A budget submission will be prepared to create a Biodiversity Strategy for consideration as part of the 2019-2020 budget development.” said the letter from Grant Thorne.

Sometimes it just needs a squeaky wheel to turn what appears like good policy on paper into being properly implemented.

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