Integrated catchment management across Victoria
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Victoria’s 10 Catchment Management Authorities have together developed this framework illustrating the aims of integrated catchment management in Victoria. The framework:
- summarises the high level, state-wide outcomes and directions sought by the Victorian Government
- identifies a set of region-scale measures that will be included in all Regional Catchment Strategies to contribute to the state-wide goals and also improve the consistency of monitoring and reporting across Victoria.
Policy context for this Regional Catchment Strategy
This Regional Catchment Strategy is prepared under provisions of the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 in line with objectives of the Act including to balance land productivity and conservation outcomes and to encourage and support community engagement.
There are numerous other Acts, policies and plans in place at the national, state and regional level that also guide and influence natural resource management in this region and are reflected in this Regional Catchment Strategy. Many of the policies and plans focus on a particular theme. An aim of this Regional Catchment Strategy is to explain how they all fit together to assist and improve integration and coordination across themes and across the many organisations and communities involved in natural resource management in this region.
The following diagram shows a number of the policies and plans that have been considered in the development of this Regional Catchment Strategy.
Victorian Government legislation, policies and plans
The Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 is the legislation that promotes and enables integrated catchment management across Victoria including establishment of catchment management regions, catchment management authorities and the requirement for Regional Catchment Strategies. Supporting the Act, the Our Catchments Our Communities: Building on the Legacy for Better Stewardship statement maintains the Victorian Government’s commitment to integrated catchment management, supports catchment stewardship through development of new regional catchment strategies that enhance catchment partnerships and align with Traditional Owners aspirations for Country.
The Water Act 1989 provides the legal framework for managing Victoria’s water resources. The main purposes of the Act are to promote the equitable and efficient use of water resources, ensure water resources are conserved and properly managed for the benefit of all Victorians, and increase community involvement in conserving and managing water resources. Supporting the Act, Water for Victoria is the Government’s plan as Victoria responds to the impact of climate change and a growing population. The Victorian Waterway Management Strategy provides the detailed policy for managing Victoria’s waterways. The Yarra River Protection (Willip-gin Birrarung murron) Act 2017 is established to specifically protect the Yarra River for future generations.
The new Environment Protection Act 2017 commenced on 1 July 2021. The Act creates duties for all Victorians to protect our environment and human health from the impacts of pollution and waste. Under the Act, the General Environmental Duty (GED) and other more specific duties will focus Victorian business, industry and the community on preventing harm.
The Planning and Environment Act 1987 establishes the legal framework for planning the use, development and protection of land in Victoria. The Act sets the broad objectives for planning in Victoria and the main rules and principles for how the Victorian planning system works. The Act is ‘enabling’ legislation, meaning it does not precisely define the scope of planning, how it should be done or the detailed rules that should apply to land use and development. These and other more detailed matters are dealt with by ‘subordinate’ instruments under the Act including the Victoria Planning Provisions which are the standard provisions for all of Victoria’s planning schemes.
Legislation specifically focused on biodiversity protection and management includes the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. It is the key piece of Victorian legislation for the conservation of threatened species and communities and for the management of potentially threatening processes. The Victorian Government has also put in place the Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037 plan outlining the long-term vision for Victoria’s biodiversity supported by two overarching goals of Victorians valuing nature and Victoria’s natural environment being healthy.
Parks Victoria’s state-wide Land Management Strategy (in preparation) will set the direction for Parks Victoria’s land management including nature conservation, cultural heritage management and visitor management and services.
The Pupangarli Marnmarnepu ‘Owning Our Future’ – Aboriginal Self-Determination Reform Strategy has been developed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning with the aim of partnering with Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians to advance self-determination and achieving a future where Victoria’s First Peoples are in control of their own future.
The Victorian Agriculture strategy seeks to build on the sector’s strengths, enable it to respond flexibly to emerging challenges and capture new opportunities so that agriculture can continue to flourish in the face of global change and increasing unpredictability for all members of our society and our broader economy.
The Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 provides for the management of extractive industries within catchments, including revegetation of quarries and mines after they have ceased operation, and the Helping Victoria Grow: Extractive Resources Strategy outlines the Victorian Government’s approach to secure and manage the supply of extractive resources.
The Victorians Volunteering for Nature – Environmental Volunteering Plan recognises that volunteers contribute significantly to Victoria’s environment, local communities and economy and that environmental volunteer groups play a critical role in managing, protecting and improving the natural environment. The Victorian Government has established the plan to maintain, support and grow the environmental volunteering sector. Specifically providing support for the Landcare and Coastcare movements, the Victorian Landcare Program and Coastcare Victoria provide services and initiatives with the goal to strengthen community groups and networks across the State. Support includes funding on-ground facilitators who empower locals to act for their environment and provision of grants. Outside of Government, Landcare Victoria is the peak state-wide body directly representing the grassroots Landcare movement. Its Landcare Victoria Strategic Plan 2021-2024 outlines its vision, goals and priority activities.
The Marine and Coastal Act 2018, Marine and Coastal Policy and Marine and Coastal Strategy have been developed by the Victorian Government and together provide a new framework for the management of marine and coastal areas across Victoria. The Act enables protection of the coastline and the ability to address the long-term challenges of climate change, population growth and ageing coastal structures. The Policy guides decision makers including local councils and land managers on a range of issues such as dealing with the impacts of climate change, population growth and ageing coastal structures. The Strategy is being developed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and will outline priority actions over a five year period.
The Climate Change Act 2017 was established by the Victorian Government because climate change is identified as one of the biggest threats to the future of the State, with warmer and drier conditions projected to have negative consequences for health, infrastructure, agriculture, water, biodiversity, and alpine and coastal areas. The Act responds by putting in place a legislative framework to drive action to achieve a net zero emissions, climate-resilient Victorian community and economy by 2050. To prepare and plan for adaptation, Victoria’s Climate Change Framework and Victoria’s Climate Change Strategy are in place. Adaptation Action Plans will also be in place from 2022 for seven key systems of Victoria’s environment and economy.
Region-scale strategies and plans
A Bunurong Country Plan, Wurundjeri Country Plan and Wadawurrung Country Plan are Whole-of-Country plans being prepared individually by the relevant Traditional Owners to express their visions, aspirations, strategies and actions for their Country.
The Central Region Sustainable Water Strategy is a comprehensive plan for the sustainable use of water resources in the Central Region which is the area south of the Great Dividing Range that includes the West Gippsland, Central Highlands, Barwon, Port Phillip and Western Port regions, and the urban centres of Geelong, Ballarat, Greater Melbourne, Melton, Sunbury, Warragul and Traralgon. The strategy includes a series of actions and augmentations to meet the region’s water needs from 2006-2055 including policy statements and 112 actions for implementation at a regional and local scale. Integrated Water Management is also being advanced through collaborative water cycle planning with Strategic Directions Statements in place for each of the Westernport, Dandenong, Yarra, Maribyrnong and Werribee catchments and catchment-scale Integrated Water Management Plans in development.
The Healthy Waterways Strategy 2018-2028 for the Port Phillip and Westernport catchment sets a long-term vision for managing the health of rivers, wetlands and estuaries in order to protect and improve their value to the community. It was developed by Melbourne Water but is supported across state and local government, water corporations and the community, who have all voiced their commitment to achieving its vision.
The Yarra Strategic Plan is being developed by the Victorian Government as prescribed in the Yarra River Protection (Willip-gin Birrarung murron) Act 2017. The plan will give effect to a long-term community vision for the river and will provide an integrated river corridor plan that will enable the collaborative management of the river and its parklands across public agencies. The development of the plan is being coordinated by Melbourne Water in collaboration with Traditional Owners, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and various other organisations. Extensive community engagement is also being undertaken.
The Waterways of the West Action Plan is being developed by the Victorian Government to ensure that Melbourne’s western waterways are healthy and thriving for years to come, contributing to Melbourne’s identity as a vibrant and liveable city.
The Port Phillip and Western Port Groundwater Atlas discusses the groundwater resources in the Port Phillip and Western Port region, specifically how much there is, where it is, how deep it is, what it could be used for, what it is used for now and how it is regulated and managed.
Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 is the Victorian Government’s metropolitan planning strategy that defines the future shape of the city and state. Integrating long-term land use, infrastructure and transport planning, Plan Melbourne sets out the strategy for supporting jobs and growth, while building on Melbourne’s legacy of distinctiveness, liveability and sustainability. The plan includes 9 principles to guide policies and actions, 7 outcomes to strive for in creating a competitive, liveable and sustainable city, 32 directions outlining how the outcomes will be achieved and 90 policies detailing how the directions will be turned into action.
Precinct structure plans (PSPs) are master plans for local areas that usually cater for between 5,000 to 30,000 people, 2,000 to 10,000 jobs or a combination of both. PSPs provide more specific detail regarding how existing important features of local communities such roads, shopping centres, schools, parks, key transport connections and areas for housing and employment may evolve or transform over time and become better integrated.
Council Plans are developed by each municipal council in the year following a general election (every four years). A Council Plan is the major strategic document outlining what the Council is planning to achieve in the subsequent four years (as part of its longer term journey) and how it will achieve those outcomes. There are 38 municipal councils that are wholly or partly in the Port Phillip and Western Port catchment management region.
The Living Melbourne: our metropolitan urban forest strategy was developed by Resilient Melbourne and The Nature Conservancy Australia, and has been endorsed by numerous Victorian Government bodies and municipal councils in and around Melbourne. It is a strategy to reverse the decline in Melbourne’s greenery and sustain Melbourne’s liveability for people and nature across the entire city and its suburbs.
Planning for Melbourne’s green wedges and agricultural land is underway by the Victorian Government to ensure these areas are protected and supported for future generations. The Government’s intention to permanently protect Melbourne’s green wedges and vital agricultural land from overdevelopment remains strong and community consultation is being undertaken to determine priority ways to achieve this.
Foodprint Melbourne is a research project that investigates ways of strengthening the resilience of Melbourne’s food system to increase equitable access to fresh, healthy foods and promote sustainable production and consumption for current and future generations. Project partners include the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, the City of Melbourne, Resilient Melbourne, the Melbourne Food Alliance, Open Food Network, Mornington Peninsula Shire, Wyndham City, Cardinia Shire Council, City of Whittlesea, Moreland City Council, Food Bank, the Victorian Council of Social Services, the Interface Councils, the Peri-Urban Group of Rural Councils and the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority. The project has produced a ‘Roadmap for a resilient and sustainable Melbourne foodbowl’ report that outlines a vision and possible path for preserving Melbourne’s foodbowl for current and future generations.
The Port Phillip and Western Port Landcare Support Plan was developed by the Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment Management Authority and guides the Government-funded work to assist and support Landcare in this region including through funding for group facilitators, project grants and training activities. The plan is the regional expression of the Victorian Landcare Program Strategic Plan.
The Port Phillip Bay Environmental Management Plan 2017-2027 outlines the Victorian Government’s commitment to ensuring that Port Phillip Bay remains healthy and resilient. The plan was developed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) in partnership with Melbourne Water and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria with significant contributions from community and stakeholder groups. The plan outlines the vision and long-term aspirations, goals, priority areas and actions for the bay.
A Regional Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Greater Melbourne is being developed to identify and prioritise climate change adaptation actions in this region for the next five years. The strategy will take a ‘systems approach’, i.e. looking at the whole system to reveal connections and implications of events and actions.
Australian Government legislation, policies and plans
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) is the Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places. The Act focuses on the protection of matters of national environmental significance, with the states and territories having responsibility for matters of state and local significance.
The National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development reflects the concept of sustainability which has gathered momentum since publication in 1980 of the World Conservation Strategy of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). The IUCN promoted sustainability as a strategic approach to the integration of conservation and development, consistent with the objectives of ecosystem maintenance, the preservation of genetic diversity and sustainable utilisation of resources.
The national Threatened Species Strategy 2021-2031 outlines an action-based approach to protecting and recovering Australia’s threatened plants, animals and ecological communities. The Strategy sets out how science, action and partnership can be used to achieve the long-term goal of reversing species declines and supporting species recovery. The Strategy establishes two high level objects to improve the trajectory of priority threatened species and improve the condition of priority places by 2031.
The National Soil Research, Development and Extension Strategy – ‘Securing Australia’s soil for profitable industries and healthy landscapes’ Soil Health Strategy is a coordinated and forward thinking approach to managing our soil. It will ensure soils research becomes more targeted and collaborative and that research will better meet the needs of farmers. There will also be better information and tools available on soil use and management.
National Landcare Program
The National Landcare Program is a key part of the Australian Government’s commitment to natural resource management. More than $1 billion is being invested in the program from 2017 to 2023 with a range of measures to support natural resource management, sustainable agriculture and to protect Australia’s biodiversity.
The Regional Land Partnerships program is a major component of the National Landcare Program. Its aim is “to protect, conserve and provide for the productive use of Australia’s water, soil, plants and animals and the ecosystems in which they live and interact, in partnership with governments, industry and communities“. Regional Land Partnerships outcomes and the specific priorities relevant to the Port Phillip & Western Port region are outlined below.
|Regional Land Partnerships long-term outcomes||Regional Land Partnerships 5-year outcomes||Regional Land Partnerships investment priorities relevant to this region|
|Outcome 1: The ecological character of Ramsar sites is maintained or improved||Outcome 1: By 2023, there is restoration of, and reduction in threats to, the ecological character of Ramsar Sites, through the implementation of priority actions||• Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula|
• Western Port
• Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands
|Outcome 2: The trajectory of species targeted under the Threatened Species Strategy, and other EPBC Act priority species, is improved||Outcome 2: By 2023, the trajectory of species targeted under the Threatened Species Strategy, and other EPBC Act priority species, is stabilised or improved||• Plains-wanderer|
• Australasian Bittern
• Eastern Curlew
• Orange-bellied Parrot
• Hooded Plover
• Swift Parrot
• Regent Honeyeater
• Helmeted Honeyeater
• Leadbeater’s Possum
• Eastern Barred Bandicoot
• Button Wrinklewort
• Plains Rice Flower
• Silver Gum
|Outcome 3: The natural heritage Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage propertied is maintained or improved||Outcome 3: By 2023, invasive species management has reduced threats to the natural heritage Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage properties through the implementation of priority actions||None in this region|
|Outcome 4: The condition of EPBC Act listed Threatened Ecological Communities is improved||Outcome 4: By 2023, the implementation of priority actions is leading to an improvement in the condition of EPBC Act listed Threatened Ecological Communities||• Grassy Eucalypt Woodland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain|
• Natural Temperate Grassland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain
• Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens
• Natural damp Grassland of the Victorian Coastal Plains
• Seasonal Herbaceous Wetlands of the temperate Lowland Plains
• Subtropical and Temperate Coastal Saltmarsh
• White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland
• Grey Box Grassy Woodlands and Derived Native Grasslands of South-eastern Australia
|Outcome 5: The conditions of soil, biodiversity and vegetation are improved||Outcome 5: By 2023, there will be increased awareness and adoption of land management practices that improve and protect the condition of soil, biodiversity and vegetation||• Management of hillslope erosion, wind erosion, soil acidification and soil carbon in high and medium priority areas|
• Industry best management practices that relate to native vegetation and biodiversity outcomes on farms
• Projects that will protect and enhance on-farm remnant native vegetation
• Projects that bring together local groups to collate and update information to produce spatially explicit data for natural resource management at regional level and provides a foundation for investment planning
|Outcome 6: Agriculture systems have adapted to significant changes in climate and market demand||Outcome 6: By 2023, there is an increase in the capacity of agriculture systems to adapt to significant changes in climate and market demands for information on provenance and sustainable production||• Projects that support industries, farmers and fishers to adopt new management practices that help them to adjust to weather and/or climate variability|
• Projects that assist agricultural systems (including marine) to adapt to growing market preferences for products with demonstrable traceability and sustainability
International Sustainable Development Goals
The Regional Catchment Strategy has been developed with a view to contributing to the achievement of the international Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, the strategy relates to Goal 6 regarding clean water and Goals 11 to 15 regarding sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption, climate action, life below water and life on land respectively.