The Port Phillip and Western Port region covers around 1.28 million hectares, or 5.6 per cent of Victoria. The land in the region can be broadly described as rural or urban, although land on the fringe of the urban and rural areas is a significant part of the region.
Finding the balance between human need and environmental sustainability is one of the primary challenges faced by the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA and its partners. As Melbourne’s population grows, the threats to our natural resources grow with it.
The health of the region’s soil is central to its economic prosperity and human health and wellbeing. It supports the food we need to survive, fibre for fuel, clothes and housing. It is a renewable energy source and supports the ecosystems which provide clean water, pure air, biodiversity and environmental quality.
A range of legislation and supporting policies apply to the management of land in the region and support integrated catchment management. These include the Planning and Environment Act 1987, Environment Protection Act 1970, Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, Water Act 1989 and Coastal Management Act 1995.
Around 44 per cent (564,000 hectares) of the region is currently used for agriculture and green wedge. Much of the region’s natural resource production comes from rural areas, including food, water, timber and minerals. Rural areas also provide habitat for native species, recreational sites, protected natural areas and scenic landscapes.
The Port Philip and Western Port region produces the second highest agricultural yield, in dollars per year, among Victoria’s ten catchment management regions. This reflects the intensive, high value farming that occurs in and around Melbourne in a variety of agricultural industries.
The University of Melbourne’s Foodprint Melbourne Report indicated that the Port Phillip and Western Port region has the capacity to meet around 40 percent of its food needs and over 80
percent of its fresh vegetable needs alone.
The urban area covers around 172,000 hectares or 14 per cent of the region. In 2019, the population of Melbourne officially reached over 5 million people. By 2050, the population is forecast to grow to 7 million people.
In addition to the housing the majority of the region’s residents, the urban area also contain as the infrastructure, open space and natural areas they need to live healthy and productive lives. As Melbourne’s the population continues to grow, the pressure to spread and expand this urban land creates numerous catchment management issues.
The size and growth of Melbourne’s urban area is defined by the Urban Growth Boundary, which aims to better manage the city’s outward expansion in a coordinated manner. The purpose of the Urban Growth Boundary is to direct urban growth to areas capable of supporting the appropriate infrastructure and services, and protect other valuable peri-urban land (and environmental features) from urban development pressures.
However, new housing and industry development that reduced the area of productive land inside
the Urban Growth Boundary can have a significant impact on the condition of land.
42 per cent (541,000 hectares) of the region native vegetation, including around 300,000 hectares of parks and reserves. This includes a network of eight national parks, six state parks and numerous regional, metropolitan and local parks, conservation reserves and historic and cultural sites.
Victoria’s parks and public land is highly valued by the community. They provide open space, stunning landscapes, habitats to protect flora and fauna and areas to conserve cultural heritage. They also contain the closed catchments which supply the water used for drinking, food production and other industries.
While these values are undoubtedly important in their own right, our parks and public spaces also play an often unrecognised role in providing benefits that flow beyond park boundaries to contribute to Victoria’s health, wellbeing, liveability and economy.
- Point Nepean
- Mornington Peninsula
- French Island
- Dandenong Ranges
- Brisbane Ranges
- Organ Pipes
- Yarra Ranges
- Kurth Kiln