Our City in Nature: exploring Melbourne’s relationship with its flora and fauna

12 April 2019

Will our great grandchildren get to experience great wildlife in and around Melbourne? What does the future hold for our native habitat? What is being done to boost the number of parks and help connect people with nature?⁣

These questions and much more will be discussed at Our City in Nature, a special forum on Tuesday 21st May, 9am-3pm, at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The event is a collaboration between Port Phillip & Westernport CMA, Melbourne Water, Parks Victoria, DELWP (Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning) and Agriculture Victoria and will feature a range of keynote speakers in the morning, followed by three rounds of small groups discussions in the afternoon.



9.00am: Registrations and morning tea

9.45am: Opening debate
Will our great grandchildren see great wildlife in and around Melbourne?
Environmental protagonist Rob Gell vs. Sustainability lecturer, Prof. Sarah Bekessy.

10.00am: The state of play for our city and surrounds

  • The state of our environment
    Dr,.Scott Rawlings, Head of Science and Research, Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability
  • Green infrastructure initiatives to boost our stocks and connect people with nature
    The Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes
  • Current extent, quality and connectedness of native habitat
    Mark Norman, Chief Conservation Scientist, Parks Victoria
  • Getting the job done: environmental partnerships in action
    John Thwaites, Chair, Melbourne Water
  • Re-wilding: bringing lost species back into local landscapes
    Jenny Gray, CEO, Zoos Victoria

12.30pm Lunch and networking

1.15pm Deep diving
Three rounds of facilitated small-group workshops focusing on current initiatives and issues. Please select topic preferences when registering to assist with event planning.

Workshop topics:

  • Gardens 4 Wildlife
    Discussion on the success of the ‘Gardens 4 Wildlife’ grass-roots program and how organisations, community groups and local residents can get involved.
    Facilitated by Nadine Gaskell (Knox City Council)
  • Re-wilding lost species
    Discuss plans for breeding and re-introducing native species back to our local landscapes.
    Facilitated by Ross Williamson (Zoos Victoria) and Jessica McKelson (Phillip Island Nature Park)
  • Naturelink mapping
    Help create a map of proposed major, landscape-scale ‘naturelinks’ across the port Phillip and Western Port region to assist in the development of the next Regional Catchment Strategy.
    Facilitated by Stuart Hall and Sarah Maclagan (Port Phillip & Westernport CMA)
  • Citizen science success
    Discuss the experiences of community monitoring programs and explore the reasons for their success in grabbing community attention and involvement.
    Facilitated by David Donnelly (Two Bays Whale Project), Kade Mills (Reef Watch) and James Frazer (Melbourne Water)
  • State of the Environment Report
    Deep dive into the recently-released Victorian State of the Environment Report prepared by the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability.
    Facilitated by Dr Scott Rawlings (Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability)
  • Small habitat patches, big biodiversity contribution
    Explore recent research by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub that reveals the significant benefits of small habitat patches for threatened species.
    Facilitated by Prof. Brendan Wintle (Melbourne University)
  • Biodiversity sensitive urban design
    Discover a new approach to urban biodiversity conservation that aims to achieve biodiversity benefits on site, to increase the opportunity for urban residents to engage with nature.
    Facilitated by Prof Sarah Bekessy (RMIT University)
  • Great places for everyone to play
    Discuss ideas and opportunities for engaging diverse communities in our parks.
    Facilitated by Lisa Gaydon and Deborah Prentice (Parks Victoria)
  • Deer oh deer!
    Where, why and how many? Discuss the impacts of deer on our environment.
    Facilitated by Ben Fahey and Melinda Corry (Parks Victoria)
  • Getting the community heard
    Discuss the communication strategies and tactics our river and bay keepers use to achieve a high public profile and better protection of our local waterways.
    Facilitated by Andrew Kelly (Yarra Riverkeeper), John Forrester (Werribee Riverkeeper) and Neil Blake (Port Phillip Baykeeper)
  • Connecting people with nature
    Discuss approaches for engaging young people in conservation and environmental action, as well as broader questions relating to connecting the community with nature.
    Facilitated by Christopher McCormack (Remember the Wild)
  • Biodiversity 2037 survey results
    Discuss the ‘Victorians Value Nature survey’ results and how are Victorians are engaging with nature.
    Facilitated by Dr Zoe Squires (DELWP)
  • Urban Forest Strategy
    Update and discussion on the progress of Living Melbourne: The Metropolitan Urban Forest Strategy.
    Facilitated by Maree Grenfell (Resilient Melbourne) and Martin Hartigan (Nature Conservancy)
  • Melbourne Water’s Urban Waterways Program
    Outline the rationale for a region-wide, coordinated urban waterways program and seek feedback on participation, locations and possible projects.
    Facilitated by Gary Howell (Melbourne Water) and Corinne Mays (Port Phillip & Westernport CMA)
  • Community Access to Open Space and Liveability
    Why community access to open space is important, particularly in the context of a growing population, and interesting health benefits associated including the most recent science.
    Facilitated by Victoria Penko (Melbourne Water)
  • Cultural fire is healing Country
    Take part in an in-depth discussion on cultural fire practices, their application and how to be involved.
    Facilitated by Dave Wandin (Wurundjeri Land Council) and Rhys Collins (Melbourne Water)
  • Designing Melbourne’s future biodiversity reserves
    Learn about the conservation areas planned for Melbourne’s new suburbs and the threatened plants and animals that live there. Discuss the challenges of interfacing with an urban landscape and opportunities they provide for people to learn more about our rare ecosystems.
    Ben Nam, Acting Manager, Melbourne’s Strategic Assessment (DELWP)

2.45pm: dose of inspiration
Young Melbournians share their hopes and vision for the future of nature in and around our city.

3pm: close


Download Our City in Nature program (PDF)



Tickets to Our City in Nature are $60 per person. Morning tea and lunch is provided.

Register online via Eventbrite.