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 and DELWP (Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning) 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
    • Current extent, quality and connectedness of native habitat
      Mark Norman, Chief Conservation Scientist, Parks Victoria
    • Green infrastructure initiatives to boost our stocks and connect people with nature
      Video address by the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes
    • 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.
     Proposed 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 ‘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)
    • 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 (Threatened Species Recovery Hub)
    • 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)
    • 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 Correy (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.
      Christopher McCormack (Remember the Wild)
    • Melbourne Foodbowl
    • Urban waterway programs
    • Urban forests
  • 2.45pm: dose of inspiration
    Young Melburnians 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.