Victoria’s first State of the Yarra and Its Parklands (SoY) Report 2018 is a legislative requirement in the Yarra River Protection (Wilipgin Birrarung murron) Act 2017 (the Act) (Part 1 - Preliminary 1(g)). The report’s objective is to assess the condition of the Yarra River and its parkland corridor. This was the first time the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Act 2003 (the CES Act) had been amended to include a second ‘State of’ report in addition to the five-yearly Victorian State of the Environment report.
The SoY report will be a baseline study of the environmental health of the Yarra River and its parklands based on existing research and information. The vision of this SoY report aligns with the Act’s objectives and principles in that it recognises, and will report on, the Yarra River and its corridor as one living and integrated natural entity that flows from catchment to coast. The SoY report does this by linking, and recognising equally, the importance of environmental condition to cultural, spiritual, economic and social health and wellbeing indicators. The SoY explores the importance of cultural landscape health and management to Traditional Owner communities, while capturing the social and economic picture of the communities who live alongside and are dependent on the Yarra River for their health and wellbeing and economic income and prosperity. The assessment of environmental health will include threats and pressures and the current state of the main Yarra River stem and adjacent parklands. Recommendations:
That the Victorian Government, in consultation with Traditional Owners and relevant agencies, deliver on the contemporary cultural indicators to inform future environmental reporting. Delivery of these indicators must reflect the priorities of Traditional Owners, have practical and cost-effective data-collection methods, and be meaningful and demonstrate change within a five-year reporting period.
That Melbourne Water and DELWP, in coordination with research partners, conduct further analysis to improve climate projections for the Yarra River corridor. These findings should inform the system of environmental-economic accounts and how these values change under climate change. These projections would aim to reduce the uncertainties associated with rainfall projections as a minimum.
That DELWP streamline the governance and coordination of investment in the science and data capability of all government biodiversity programs and improve the coherence and impact of the publicly funded scientific endeavour. Further, that DELWP establish the position of chief biodiversity scientist to oversee this coordinated effort and provide esteemed counsel to the DELWP Secretary and the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change to improve the impact of investment in biodiversity research across the Victorian environment portfolio.
That DELWP, in collaboration with local government and private property owners, maintains and improves threatened species populations, and their habitats, by connecting Crown land in the upper and lower Yarra rural reaches, through a system of parks, reserves and private protected areas.
That DELWP, in collaboration with Melbourne Water and local governments, extend the geographical scope of the current interim Yarra River Protection Planning Controls (Amendment GC48) along the Yarra River corridor ranging from Warrandyte to the boundary of the Yarra Ranges National Park in support of appropriate urban development.
That DELWP, in collaboration with Melbourne Water, establishes an environmental-economic accounts for the Yarra River corridor that is consistent with the SEEA guidelines and the DELWP Valuing and Accounting for Victoria’s Environment strategy and aligned with the agreed common national approach. Further, that the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change include in the Statement of Expectations to the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability a requirement to incorporate environmental-economic accounts in State of the Yarra and its Parklands reporting from 2023.
That the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change include in the Statement of Expectations to the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability a requirement to adopt the SDGs as an operating framework for State of the Yarra and Its Parklands reporting in Victoria from 2023. This will require that DELWP and Melbourne Water support the Commissioner by leading a portfolio review of the data requirements to assess Victoria’s progress against the selected SDG targets, which will include a complementary analysis of current legislation, policy and programs against the SDG targets, including the Yarra Strategic Plan, and the development of a plan to improve data-acquisition processes for socio-economic indicators by 2021.
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