People and Communities

Traditional Owners and Aboriginal communities

Less than 1,000 hectares of the 1,300,000 hectares of land in this region is now under Aboriginal community ownership and/or management. The Wathaurong Cooperative owns and manages the Wurdi Youang property at Little River. The Wurundjeri Council’s Narrap team manages several parcels of land including sites at the Mt William Stone Axe Quarry, Sunbury Rings, Coranderrk Cemetery and Keilor which each have significant cultural values, and the Army School of Health in Healesville which is an important residential and training site.

The recognition of Indigenous cultural heritage and the involvement and influence of Indigenous people in natural resource management is improving in recent times. Places of Indigenous cultural significance are progressively being identified and sometimes protected. Various partnerships and projects are developing for Indigenous Elders and communities to re-learn, practice and pass on traditional Indigenous knowledge including for waterway management, food harvesting, tool production, fibre gathering and the use of traditional fire practices.

Governments now better acknowledge the Indigenous history and are improving the engagement of Indigenous people in the development of new policies and strategies.

There remains a long journey ahead to achieve adequate Indigenous participation in natural resource management and other aspects of our modern society, but these are steps in the right direction.

Landcare

Landcare groups and networks represent approximately 75 percent of all private rural land in the region. At the end of 2018-19, there were 88 Landcare groups and 13 Landcare networks, as well as an estimated 490 Friends of and other community environmental groups directly caring for our environment.

These groups play a vital role in achieving beneficial outcomes for our
natural environment, local communities and sustainable land management. They bring people together to discuss land and natural resource management issues and design and implement practical
solutions.

The Port Phillip & Westernport CMA values the contribution of Landcare towards sustainable, healthy and productive land use and has provided strategic support to the Landcare movement on behalf of the Victorian Government for over 15 years.

The people of the Port Phillip and Western Port region provide an immense pool of knowledge, skills, services and funds that play a vital role in the successful achievement of a better environment for the region.

Activities of the broader community, groups undertaking on-ground works, landholders improving farm practices, council activities, indigenous involvement in environmental projects and organisational support to improve the environment, are all key pieces that help make our region a better place to live.

How each of us think about the environment, how we use energy and water, how we manage our litter and waste and how we travel to work all contribute to the size of our individual and collective ecological footprint.

The role of our community groups in educating and encouraging others cannot be underestimated.  These groups provide others the opportunity to act responsibly, to influence others, to develop new skills, knowledge and employment, and they to provide leadership in improving our catchments, coasts and seas.

It is imperative the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA can provide resources, knowledge and skill building to support the work these groups and organisations undertake and continue to provide leadership through documents such as the Regional Catchment Strategy.

Groups caring for landscapes

Landcare groups

Landcare groups are volunteers with a common desire to protect and repair their local environment and contribute to a sustainable environment. Many Landcare groups share sustainable farming goals and tackle pest plants and animals or increase sustainable agricultural practices. Others are motivated by a desire for positive biodiversity outcomes in their local area and tackle these issues on the ground.

Landcare networks

Many Landcare groups come together and form Landcare networks to share and learn from each other. Landcare networks enable groups to collaborate more effectively to address local land management issues and develop landscape-scale projects to enhance their local environment.

‘Friends Of’ and other community environmental groups

In addition to Landcare groups and networks, environmental volunteering encompasses a diverse range of environmental and sustainability activities. Friends groups, committees of management, and other nature advocacy and research groups care for and enhance public lands and reserves across the region. These groups work closely with Parks Victoria and local councils.

Coastcare groups

Coastcare groups seek to protect or improve coastal and marine environmental assets. These groups tackle problems like dune erosion, loss of native plants and animals, storm water pollution, weeds and control of human access to sensitive areas.