Native vegetation and biodiversity

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7. Native vegetation and biodiversity - Department of Planning and Community Development The Minister for Planning has issued Terms of Reference, under which the Assessment Committee will assess the CIS and submissions in response.

Extract: (7) Terms of Reference: Conduct a Public Hearing, in accordance with Division 2 of Part 8 of the Act, to hear properly made submissions confined to the following matters.

(7) (g) Whether the impacts of the project on native vegetation and biodiversity have been appropriately addressed.


[edit] EWL CIS documents for reference

All CIS documents

[edit] Extract

The project is located in an urbanised environment where development over many decades has had a high impact on ecological values. While the area generally contains no significant ecological value, Royal Park, Merri Creek, Moonee Ponds Creek and the Trin Warren Tam-boore Wetlands support some ecological values in a modified state.

While the project would result in some vegetation removal, this would not generate any negative ecological impacts at a bioregional (or higher) scale. While vegetation and habitat loss would occur in local areas, this would be managed and offset in accordance with Victoria’s Biodiversity assessment guidelines (DEPI 2013). Overall, the project would not result in any regional biodiversity impacts. A flora, fauna and aquatic ecology assessment was prepared by GHD in September 2013. A full copy of the report is provided in Technical Appendix O.

[edit] Native vegetation and biodiversity notes

A great deal of trees and vegetation would be lost or affected, particularly in Royal Park, on Elliott Avenue, around Moonee Ponds Creek. Flyovers create large shaded areas which would presumably impact on vegetation. Melbourne City Council estimates that some 5,000 trees, many very old, would be lost. How would loss of vegetation impact on fauna? What about travel routes for native animals? Or the impact of permanent lights?

[edit] Royal Park

[edit] Remnant bushland in West Royal Park

Destruction of Melbourne's Major Park - Royal Park and the Moonee Ponds Creek: The EW Link will cut a swathe through Royal Park and in the process of tunnel or roadway construction over four to five years it will be transformed into giant quarry sites and its bushland (used for passive recreation), sports fields, community facilities, wetlands and water storage tanks ripped up by the EW Link construction. The remnant bushland in West Royal Park is the only area of this kind of vegetation left in Melbourne. An aerial roadway is to the Port is now planned over the Moonee Ponds Creek.

Destruction of Wetlands and Water Storage Facilities: The Royal Park Wetlands which supplies water for Melbourne's parks and street trees plus the Royal Park Golf course will be completely destroyed, including the vast water storage tanks under the Ross Straw field.

Reference: Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. (PPL VIC) Submission to City of Melbourne at the East West Link Public Meeting on Tuesday 8 October 2013

[edit] Destruction of the Bushland Escarpment - last bushland remnant in City of Melbourne

[edit] Royal Park Overview

Features of note within Royal Park include the Australian Native Garden, Melbourne Zoological Gardens and the Royal Children’s Hospital. In Royal Park West, there are several sections of remnant vegetation along the Upfield railway line, including the area commonly known as the Bushland Escarpment. Adjacent to the Royal Park West is a small section of remnant grassland in Manningham Street, Parkville, and the Moonee Ponds Creek.

[edit] Destruction of White's Skink habitat

More recently, the construction of Trin Warren Tam-boore (Bellbird Waterhole) wetlands and the Commonwealth Games village has occurred in the north west-corner, immediately adjacent to a section of land referred to as the White’s Skink habitat. A study in Royal Park in 1999 revealed the presence of significant species including Richards Pipit (a small bird) and White's Skink (a type of lizard).

[edit] Water Quality

Jill K: started reading pp 38-51 - can't work out the tables yet

I spoke to a couple of young workers from Melbourne Water when I went there - they were testing water quality - and they stated that the water quality is surprisingly good (great habitat for waterbirds and supporting aquatic species) - I suspect this is attributable to the quality of the vegetation fringing the wetlands.

Curious that the report dwells only on the poor water quality of Moonee Ponds creek and I can't find a mention of the good water quality of the water in the wetlands. (8.2.3)

Also the impacts due to permanent built structures are not fully discussed - 8.1.1: Over-creek structures leading to shading, artificial light, noise and/or vibration resulting in behavioural impedance to passage

[edit] Trin Warren Tam-boore

[edit] City of Melbourne: Trin Warren Tam-boore

Trin Warren Tam-boore (Bellbird waterhole) was previously five hectares of little-used land in the north-western area of Royal Park adjacent to a busy freeway. Launched officially in 2006, this area has been transformed into an urban wetland designed to treat stormwater run-off from the roads, rooftops and gutters of surrounding suburbs, provide a habitat area for wildlife and deliver recycled water for use in Royal Park.

[edit] Royal Park Wetlands - Walk Melbourne via Melbourne Trams

Royal Park Wetlands (Trin Warren Tam-Boore) – Walk Melbourne via Melbourne Trams is a treat; expansive views, history, protected habitats, bird hides, and native vegetation, its full of surprises. Royal Park extends over 170 hectares (420 acres), a real treasure so close to the centre of Melbourne. If you have a chance before beginning this walk it’s worth collecting the ‘Royal Park Wetland” brochure from Information Victoria at Federation Square. If you would like to share the Wetlands with someone unable, off street parking is provided in Oak St.

[edit] Australian Ecosystems: Royal Park Wetlands

Working with City of Melbourne and wetland design group Ecological Engineering, as well as engineering group Parsons Brinkerhoff, Australian Ecosystems propagated and planted around 70,000 aquatic plants on this high profile project. This wetland plays a vital environmental role in treating and recycling stormwater through the natural, biological processes of native plants and sunlight. The processed clean water then goes to the ‘storage wetland’ which is used to irrigate areas of Royal Park in summer, while the remainder flows through to Moonee Pnds Creek and Port Phillip Bay.The wetland serves as a lasting legacy from the 2006 Commonwealth Games. As well as improving the quality of stormwater and recycling water through reticulation, it also reclaims a native habitat which encourages a greater variety of flora and fauna in the park, and provides a new environment for visitors to explore near the heart of the city.

[edit] Royal Park West and Trin Warren Tam-boore September 28, 2008

Today Friends of Royal Park held the 5th of their bi-monthly bird surveys of the Trin Warren Tam-boore area. The wetlands are around three years old and were installed as part of the 2006 Commonwealth Games Village. Since then they have become well established and support an increasing diversity of bird species. Today the wetlands were slightly below capacity with some mudflats exposed, as we stated off an Australian Hobby flew overhead. At the Treatment Pond our first surprise for the day was a Great Egret standing knee deep in the pond, the first time this species has been recorded on our surveys. As we walked around the pond we recorded a number of water birds including Australasian Grebes, Purple Swamphen and Black Duck. Other smaller birds were present too, such as Superb Fairy-wren and White-plumed Honeyeater. Clamorous Reed Warblers had returned for the summer, we watched as a pair flew to and from their nest within the reeds. Little Grassbirds were calling but being as elusive as ever.

The next section of the walk took us through the 'Skink Habitat'. The White's Skink were once widespread in Melbourne but now only thrive in a few areas around Melbourne, they were 'rediscovered' some years ago during a clean up program of this area and may be the only long term viable population close to Melbourne. A small creek runs alongside this habitat, it's one of the best place to see little birds. Today we saw a pair of Spotted Pardalote and a New Holland Honeyeater, last week when I walked through this area Grey Fantails and Silvereyes were present, but there was no sign of them today.

As we walked up the bike path towards the 'Woodland Escarpment' area a Grey Butcherbird was chased into a dense bush by a Red Wattlebird. Red Wattlebird was the predominant species present on the escarpment today, but we also saw a small party of Superb Fairy-wren and heard a Grey-shrike Thrush and a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo calling. The last section of the walk took us to the Storage Pond, the water here is deeper and more open so the species present are often different from those on the Treatment Pond. Today we recorded our first pair of Grey Teal. The Hardhead ducks, not present all winter, had returned, we counted 8 of them. There were several Australasian Grebe on nests and best of all, another new record for our list, was the pair of Black Swans who now have a large nest floating on the water at the edge of the reed beds. Other birds present were Eurasian Coots, Dusky Moorhen, Black Ducks, Clamorous Reed-warblers and Little Grassbirds. Our total species count for the day was 34.

[edit] Moonee Ponds Creek

Moonee Ponds community angered over east-west link claim November 11, 2013.

A claim by the authority in charge of building the east-west link that the project will leave Moonee Ponds Creek looking "more natural" has been disputed by communities living near the urban waterway. The creek is likely to have a two-and-a-half- kilometre, four-lane elevated road built along its western bank, running parallel to CityLink, as part of stage two of the project, forcing 13 homes and 12 commercial properties to make way, along with part of the creek's linear reserve. The Linking Melbourne Authority claims in a video posted on YouTube last week that the creek's environment will be improved once the road is built.

AILA’ s position on East West Link Stage 1Victorian landscape architects have carefully considered all available information and believe this project should not proceed in its current form because of the severe ecological, cultural and heritage impacts on Royal Park and Moonee Ponds Creek. AILA encourages its fellow design organisations AIA and PIA, and engineering professional bodies, to carefully consider their position on this project. We also encourage the Office of the Government Architect to proactively engage with this project.We recommend that the City of Melbourne, as custodians of Royal Park, request the Linking Melbourne Authority to develop an alternative alignment option that avoids any impact on Royal Park and Moonee Ponds Creek, or to otherwise abandon the project.We believe this advice on the project is in the best interests of the future development of our city, and its environment.

[edit] Merri Creek and Yarra River environs

View from under the Merri Creek Bridge(s)

[edit] Alexandra Parade

[edit] Clifton Hill West

"We've butcher bird, currawong, black faced cuckoo shrike, two types of wattle birds, powerful owl, magpie lark, and 3 yet to be identified IN OUR BACKYARD and Darling Gardens. A thousand corellas flew over a few weeks ago. Lorrikeets nest in the elm hollows. Red rumped parrots are in Mayors Park and Darlign Gardens." [Mary Kenneally, Resident near the Darling Gardens, 2013]. Also seen are tawny frog mouth, wattle birds, blue tongue lizards.

[edit] Residents Against the Tunnel - Native vegetation and biodiversity

In general:

  • CIS does not address how EWL proposal is inadequate and short-sighted in protecting remaining ecological values, with no real assessment of construction impacts, only offering vague statements about minimising and mitigating
  • CIS does not properly assess the value to the community of flora, fauna and aquatic assets in different precincts.
  • CIS describes Moonee Ponds Creek, Royal Park, Trin Warren Tam-boore wetlands and Merri Creek as ‘modified’ to justify wholescale destruction and/or modification. In fact, this further reinforces the community need to further protect these ‘urban’ assets from any impacts (including removal or destruction)
  • CIS lacks significant detail regarding practical, considered and viable measures to meet the performance requirements across all performance objectives
  • CIS confirms contractor will essentially determine the best approach to meet the performance requirements (subject to legislative and other requirements)–too open-ended and non-specific in stating how impacts or can be avoided or mitigated. It will also be market-driven.
  • CIS does not address how the removal of existing mature trees will impact fauna, and in what time frame a net increase of tree canopy will be achieved. Reinstatement of trees does not account for the fact that mature trees will be destroyed.
  • CIS does not specifically state the full range of vegetation and trees requiring removal, citing a loss of 93 scattered trees (differs from City of Melbourne appraisal of 5000+ trees lost in Royal Park), merely stating that minimal removal is required. Why aren’t saplings accounted for in the total amount of trees lost? What is minimal? Who decides?
  • CIS does not specify areas in need of protection – including preserved remnant grasslands – in terms of specific protection boundaries
  • CIS does not address what different design and construction methods were considered to avoid the permanent loss of vegetation and biodiversity in Royal Park, so that the stakeholders can assess the value of the proposed scheme in relation to fully investigated options. What other design options were considered?

[edit] Precinct 1 - Merri Creek & Yarra Bend

  • CIS claims no discernable impact on Merri Creek yet there will be permanent loss and destruction of an extensive range of native vegetation (eg. plains grassy woodland, floodplain riparian woodland and escarpment shrubland) and wildlife habitat for birds, reptiles and mammals such as Ringtail and Brushtail Possums, Swift Parrot and Grey-headed Flying-fox.
  • Locals have observed the recent presence of platypus. No mention in the CIS. How will they large-scale machinery and nearby construction works affect these mammals?
  • CIS describes broad, vague measures involving design and construction refinement to ‘maybe’ minimise impacts on this native vegetation and fauna habitat without specific intent, methodology and criterion that are all open to interpretation. No guarantees provided.
  • CIS prescribes fencing of no-go zones along Merri Creek to protect biodiversity values. Why are specific zones not identified in CIS? Who identifies the extent of no-go zones? CIS had been issued prematurely.
  • The CIS prescribes the requirement to minimise the removal of trees and remnant vegetation. ‘Minimise’ is not an enforceable performance criteria. What is considered minimal removal? Who decides?
  • CIS describes prescribed requirement to design the bridge widening over Merri Creek to minimise additional shading of the waterway. This is just an arbitrary objective. Who determines what is minimal shading of the waterway? Any shading will have impact. The only real way to minimise shading of the waterway is to not widen the bridge.
  • CIS refers to urban design framework to achieve substantial net increase in tree canopy and contribution to the urban landscape across the corridor (eg. along Alexandra Pde). Totally ignores the destruction of existing established urban street-level vegetation as active habitat for birdlife and mammals. What’s the timeframe for re-establishing?

[edit] Precinct 3 - Royal Park and Moonee Ponds Creek

  • Permanent loss and destruction of remnant grassy woodland near south edge of Elliot Avenue where interchange works are proposed, and near natural escarpment to the east of Ross Straw Field, near Upfield line, in Royal Park West. These are the only pockets of remnant vegetation in the municipality according to City of Melbourne. These are areas for nocturnal retreats, nesting and denning for birds and animals. The latter is protected habitat for regionally significant White’s Skinks. Why is this not addressed in CIS?
  • Permanent loss and destruction of plains grassy woodland at the southern end of Trim Warren Tam-boore storage wetland. CIS does not mention blushing bindweed (Convolvulus erubesccens) in this area – not an uncommon native grassland species, but is the last inner Melbourne population.
  • Destruction of plains grassy woodland near a drainage line located north-east of the Trin Warren Tam-boore Wetlands, in Royal Park, on the east side of Manningham Street.
  • CIS claims “direct removal of up to 93 scattered locally native trees (planted and remnant) in Royal Park during construction. According to City of Melbourne 5000+ trees (valued at $17 milllion) will be lost resulting in loss of foraging habitat for trees will certainly result in the loss of foraging habitat for the Swift Parrot, Grey-headed Flying-fox and other fauna. CIS provides no details of benchmark for ‘minimal removal’ of trees and remnant vegetation which makes this requirement meaningless. Who determines what is acceptable removal?
  • Trim Warren Tam-boore storage wetland (west side of Oak St) will be permanently covered over by road viaducts (coming form western end portal, then heading south and north) with pylons inserted into it, resulting in loss of cover, aquatic habitat and water quality, impacting aquatic fauna permanently. Will affect birds like Hardhead and others. CIS provides insufficient clarification on how impacts to wetland will be minimised.
  • Treatment wetland on east side of Oak St will be affected by temporary works as it is in project boundary. CIS has no detail on how the works will be contained beyond wetland zone.
  • Moonee Ponds Creek will have permanent piers, pylons and overhead viaduct freeway – additional shading and light disturbances impacting on passage of fish. Loss of eucalypts leading to reduced foraging habitat for Swift Parrot and birds/animals. CIS inadequately addresses how, despite being modified, it is highly valued by the community as a place for birds and fish and the EWL proposal will undermine further rehabilitation of this waterway environment.
  • CIS inadequately addresses details of construction footprint and how it will be refined to minimise destruction of natural remnant vegetation including old trees that provide habitats for animals
  • CIS inadequately addresses impacts of different methods of construction (cut-and-cover?) of tunnel in these areas – who decides?
  • CIS fails to acknowledge that EWL ignores Royal Park Masterplan (1984) and that vegetation in Royal Park considered “areas of exceptional value” in terms of State Significance (Refer to Cultural and Historic Significance of Royal Park by Christine Dyson, 1984)
  • CIS provides no detail of no-go zones and who determines these. Some of the grassy woodland vegetation occurs in temporary works

[edit] Media References

East west link to have major impact on communities October 31, 2013, Jason Dowling and Adam Carey The planned east-west tollway will have long lasting impacts on the communities located along the road's path, new documents show. Project impact documents released Thursday by the Napthine government show in addition to the 105 homes and 34 commercial properties acquired for the project there will also be the temporary loss of 30 hectares of open space, with two hectares to be lost permanently. Royal Park will lose 1.36 hectares to the new six-lane freeway and sections of Debneys Park, Ormond Park, Holbrook Reserve and Moonee Ponds Creek Linear Reserve, will also be lost.

Tunnel vision? November 10, 2013, Farrah Tomazin. The Sunday Age's state political editor. Building the east-west link has merit, but the impact of this project will be substantial and long-lasting. Among the negatives, Royal Park will lose about 1.36 hectares to make way for the tunnel. Sections of Debneys Park, Ormond Park and the Moonee Ponds Creek will also be lost. Contaminated soil, groundwater and asbestos may be dredged up as the project is built, placing the health of residents and workers at risk. Large parts of the city will become construction zones for up to five years. And as expected, about 105 homes and 34 commercial properties will be compulsorily acquired in the process.