Biodiversity is often seen as separate from people and the community. BEAM has been promoting the idea that healthy people and communities need a healthy environment.
Biodiversity includes both the diversity of different animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, etc but also all the interactions between organisms and all the processes that we rely on for health living and a resilient economy, from converting carbon dioxide to oxygen through to pollination of plants and natural control of pests. And native bushland can provide opportunities for recreation and relaxation not available in our built environments.
BEAM and its members, often through other groups such as Landcare and the Mitchell Shire Environment Advisory Committee, have been working on the promotion, planning and implementation of projects that protect and enhance the natural environment.
Biolinks have become the over-arching concept providing a direction for all this activity. The Mt Piper Biolink aims to link the forests on the east and west of the Shire in a mosaic with farmland. The Landscape Linkages Project in the Strathbogie Ranges includes the Granite to Goulburn links through Whiteheads Creek. All these projects are part of the broader Melbourne Arc Project that is being developed by a consortium of groups called the Central Victorian Biolinks.
Protection and Revegetation
The on-ground part of this work – protection and revegetation – has been happening for many years (eg the link between Mt Piper and Broadford pictured), but the biolink concept has provided a much clearer target for all this work. BEAM has supported this work, mainly though the involvement of members in Landcare.
BEAM has been a major player in the protection and management of many valuable nature reserves including Monument Hill, Mount Piper, Colin Officer Flora Reserve, Boulton Flora Reserve and the Seymour Bushland Park. BEAM and many members are part of the “friends” groups for these reserves. And BEAM has promoted these reserves through its brochure “Mitchell’s Natural Treasures”.
BEAM and its members on other committees have been also active in promoting protection and enhancement of the natural environment through submissions to the local Council. In recent years, this has included submissions on the Mitchell 2020 Plan, the Planning Review, the Council Plan and the Open Space Strategy. The submissions have focused on providing legal and community recognition of the value of biodiversity in townships and rural areas of the Shire.
At a State level, BEAM has prepared submissions to the Melbourne Growth Area Authority, the White Paper on Biodiversity in a time of Climate Change, and the Victorian Environment Assessment Council’s report on small reserves and the future of remnant vegetation. BEAM wrote to and then addressed the Bushfires Royal Commission on the importance of roadside vegetation. Over the past year, BEAM has supported other environment groups in attempting to change State policies on several key issues. This includes the imminent changes to the native vegetation clearing rules that will have a big impact on the natural environment of Mitchell Shire. Our links with other groups have strengthened our voice at this level of government.
- provided an avenue for members to express concern on local, national and global environmental issues, and participate in the development of solutions
- increased community environmental awareness
- provided a forum for community discussion on the environment
BEAM now has 100 members and is set to continue this work into the future.
Disclaimer: This article probably does not cover all the environmental activities of BEAM and its members.