Melbourne will face a “mass extinction” of animal and plant species unless the Bracks Government dramatically improves planning laws, a new report by a coalition of green groups reveals.
The report, Melbourne’s Native Vegetation Habitat Under Threat, reveals the city’s top 10 conservation areas most in danger from poorly planned urban sprawl and blames Bracks Government inaction for the pending destruction.
The report lists a total of 21 threatened native habitats around Melbourne including:
Environment Victoria’s Executive Director Marcus Godinho said the top 10 sites were representative of Melbourne’s most threatened habitats: “These areas contain a range of threatened animals and plants – once they’re gone from Melbourne, we can never get them back. These areas – and the plants and animals in them – are on death row.”
Victorian National Parks Association Director Charlie Sherwin said Victoria has lost more of its native bushland than any other state, with only 5 per cent of original native vegetation left on private land and more than half of Melbourne’s endangered grasslands destroyed – much of that occurring since 2000.
“If Melbourne keeps shredding native habitats at the current rate then we will lose the homes of hundreds of species. We are wrecking Melbourne’s natural heritage. The Bracks Government must act immediately to halt this destruction,” said Mr Sherwin.
He said the Government could significantly reduce the loss if it implemented the planning guidelines for the Native Vegetation Framework, the policy for protecting native vegetation.
“The incessant delays in implementing strong guidelines are unacceptable. It is already too late for some important sites. The Government must protect what’s left of Melbourne’s native vegetation right now.”
Green Wedges Coalition coordinator Rosemary West agreed: “If Melbourne values what is left of its remnant bushland we must make development fit the needs of the environment and local communities.
“The Government is quick to build freeways and encourage channel-deepening. But when it comes to protecting what is left of our remnant native vegetation they are conspicuously slow.”
RMIT Environment and Planning lecturer Dr Sarah Bekessy said action was urgently needed to protect important vegetation particularly on Melbourne’s urban fringe: “Without a serious change in Government commitment, we may face a mass-extinction event in the suburbs within our lifetimes.’’
Download the report Melbourne’s Native Vegetation: Habitat Under Threat