From Tania Foster, Chair of the Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment Management Authority:
For the past 25 years, Victoria’s 10 Catchment Management Authorities have led the development of Regional Catchment Strategies for their regions. The strategies guide the efforts of organisations and regional communities to protect and improve the health of the land, water and biodiversity resources that are vital for vibrant, prosperous and resilient communities.
Given the ongoing changes in climate, land, water, natural habitat, the increased recognition of Traditional Owners’ involvement in natural resource management, population trends, technological advancements and new legislation and policies, the Regional Catchment Strategies are reviewed and renewed approximately every six years to ensure they remain current and relevant.
This renewal process involves extensive partner and community engagement to make sure the values and priorities of the people who live, work and visit the regions are recognised and planned for.
Managing the natural resources of this region and achieving sustainability is a major challenge for our society. If our region is to be healthy and prosperous it must have significant production, development and the associated economic benefits that follow.
However, this production and development must not be to the detriment of our environment. We must acknowledge that there are real limits and consequences to the way we use and manage our natural resources. We have to understand that there are critical thresholds, or points at which the natural assets will be irreparably damaged, and we must ensure that we do not reach these thresholds. We need to explore new technologies and apply them as well as increasing awareness and adoption by our communities.
Among the greatest threats are the changes, pressures and impacts that come with climate change, population growth, urban development and intensive agricultural production. Port Phillip Bay is vulnerable to inputs of water-borne nutrients, particularly nitrogen. Western Port’s health is affected by the inflows of sediment. The Werribee and Maribyrnong Rivers need more reliability for their environmental flows. Native vegetation in various parts of the region faces degradation and fragmentation.
Achieving good catchment management requires everyone to consider the impacts of their activities and to find solutions where these cause problems for our environment. We need to find less damaging ways of producing what we want and need and prevent environmental costs being transferred to others or into the public domain.
We all have a responsibility and an opportunity to be good stewards of our natural resources and environment. For every activity, there are ways to minimise damage and make the most of environmental values.
From John Thwaites, Chair, and Michael Wandmaker, Managing Director, of Melbourne Water: