PROTECTING HABITAT AND PROMOTING THE GREAT OUTDOORS

The creation of a new Wombat-Lerderderg National Park will safeguard crucial habitat for many of Victoria’s threatened species while ensuring local forests remain a drawcard for nature lovers and all those who enjoy getting out in the great outdoors, Member for Macedon, Mary-Anne Thomas said.

The Victorian Government today released its response to the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council’s (VEAC) Central West Investigation Final Report which includes the announcement of a new 44,700-hectare national park between Daylesford and Bacchus Marsh.

Mary-Anne Thomas said the new national park will bring together the Lerderderg State Park and much of the Wombat State Forest, while new Hepburn and Cobaw Conservation Parks will also be created adding a further 5,000 hectares to Victoria’s protected area estate.

Four new regional parks near Barkstead, Blackwood, Spargo Creek and west of Macedon (totalling more than 15,000 hectares) will also be created; and almost 3000 hectares will be added to the existing Hepburn Regional Park.

The new and expanded regional parks are all located close to regional towns making them easily accessible and perfect to suit the growing demand for nature-based recreation activities and outdoor adventures.

All of the new regional parks are sites where activities including horse-riding, dog-walking and recreational prospecting can be enjoyed, while domestic firewood collection will also continue from designated sites in the new and additional areas of regional parks until June 2029.

The new Wombat-Lerderderg National Park helps improve the protection of threatened species, including the greater glider, while providing Victorians with the space and opportunity to explore the great outdoors and connect with nature through four-wheel-driving, horse riding, bushwalking and camping. While hunting restrictions in regional parks will remain, seasonal deer hunting (by stalking) will be allowed in the new national park in areas it already takes place between May and the start of the spring school holidays.

The VEAC report was commissioned in 2017 to evaluate the condition and status of public land in Victoria’s central west and make recommendations to ensure its ongoing management balances the needs of all park users and conserves the regions natural and cultural values.

The Government’s response creates new parks and reserves, while continuing to provide support for the timber industry as it as it transitions away from native timber harvesting by 2030.

The Government acknowledges the interests and aspirations of Traditional Owners for country and is committed to partnering with Traditional Owners in public land management, including through implementing this government response to the VEAC Report and identifying suitable names for the new parks and reserves. For more information about Victoria’s Central West region please visit:

https://www.forestsandreserves.vic.gov.au/land-management/victorian-environment-assessment-council/victorian-government-response-to-veac-central-west-investigation/

Quotes attributable to Mary-Anne Thomas, Member for Macedon

“While our immediate focus is on the recovery of our public land assets impacted by recent severe weather, it’s important we share these landmark changes with the community and start planning ahead.

“Our parks and reserves play a key role protecting our natural environment as well as providing Victorians with opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors and connect with nature.

“We are listening to the communities that use and care for these areas and finding the right balance between the needs of public land users and the environment.”