A Possible Response to Our Natural City Strategy Consultation

Gecko Environment Council has a number of concerns about the Our Natural City Strategy and the HaveYourSay Questionnaire. We urge you to respond to the questionnaire before COB Tuesday 16th May and you are welcome to make your own choices but we ask that you bear these matters listed below in mind. To view the Strategy click on Strategy . For the survey go to www.gchaveyoursay.com.au/naturalcity

Issues:

The previous consultation for the Nature Conservation Strategy included 4 discussion papers on priority issues, workshops, and mapping analysis. By comparison this time the public are given one online discussion paper and only two weeks to respond to a very important issue.

  • The draft strategy is not written from a protection of nature perspective as the previous Nature Conservation Strategy was.
  • It is focused on what recreational activities the conservation/ natural areas can be used for regardless of whether they are high impact or not.
  • The Natural City does not give enough weight to important issues of conservation and protection of rare and threatened species, ecosystem services and impact of climate change.
  • The questions do not differentiate between areas of high, medium or low conservation values in proposing all sorts of human recreational activities.
  • The questions talk vaguely about activities for health and fitness without any recognition that high impact activities such as mountain biking, horse riding, orienteering, jet boats on the waterways etc will degrade the conservation areas.

It is not immediately obvious, but the object of the survey appears to be to get public approval for recreational development within the conservation areas as these have been estimated to be worth billions of dollars to our tourism industry.

Some of the questions appear to be leading your answers

Questions?

It is important to raise the issues listed above in the comment boxes of the survey

A wonderful area for a family picnic or day out

Survey Questions are:

1. Why are the city’s natural assets important to you? (Choose all that apply)   You can tick all of these or just a few

2. Do any of the following limit your ability to enjoy and connect with the city’s natural areas?Be careful with the second choice in this one as it could indicate approval of high impact activities

3. What is your level of support for ensuring nature based recreation activities are planned and guided to minimise impacts on our highly important natural areas?

This is a tricky one because it does not differentiate between areas of high conservation value and low. Obviously planned recreation should mimimise impacts, but in high conservation areas there should not be any activities other than walking or research.

4. How would you like to participate and partner with the City to safeguard our natural assets into the future? (Choose all that apply) This question is fine and you can answer as you please.

5. How would you like to hear about how to access, explore, experience and be active in natural areas? (Choose all that apply) .No problems with this question.

6. Thinking about the City’s natural assets, how important are the three strategic outcomes to you? People in nature:Our residents and visitors connect with nature and value its contribution to our city’s health, economic prosperity and lifestyle. Places for nature: Our natural asset network sustains healthy, diverse and resilient habitats and includes areas for people to enjoy nature. Partners with nature: We partner across government, businesses, research institutions, landowners and the community to protect, restore, connect and manage our natural assets on public and private land.

This question looks fine, but again there is no differentiation of the level of conservation value for people to connect with nature and the partners could include private developers looking to build recreation resorts or facilities in our conservation areas.

7. Thinking about the outcome of ‘People in nature’ what is your level of support for the following actions? Somewhat support is the only answer

1.1 Provide nature based recreational infrastructure for people to enjoy our natural city. If you strongly support this again it could encourage private development in high value conservation areas.

1.2 Develop a community participation program for residents and visitors to enjoy, explore, feel and engage with nature. There is no detailed information as to what this exactly meets. It sounds good, but does it protect our conservation areas?

1.3 Connect nature with our history, cultural identity and heritage. There is no detailed information as to what this exactly meets. It sounds good, but does it protect our conservation areas?

1.4 Encourage community involvement in helping to care for the city’s water environments. You can strongly support this one.

8. Do you have any comments which explain your level of support for the above ‘People in nature’ actions? This is where you can raise the issues listed at the beginning of this guide.

9. Thinking about the outcome of ‘Places in nature’ what is your level of support for the following actions? You can answer strongly support to all these.

2.1 Collaborate with stakeholders to monitor the health and condition of the city’s natural assets.

2.2 Prioritise and implement management actions to safeguard the city’s natural assets.

2.3 Continue to implement environmental policies to protect native vegetation, habitats, corridors, wetlands and waterways

10. Do you have any comments which explain your level of support for the above ‘Places for nature’ actions?You can suggest that there are some areas of high conservation value that should not be opened to recreational activities especially those with rare and threatened species for which Council has international responsibilities to protect.

11. Thinking about the outcome of ‘Partners with nature’ what is your level of support for the following actions? This sounds good but it will depend on who the partners are and what they might expect in return.

3.1 Increase the area of land protected, restored and connected by growing partnerships.

3.2 Identify cost effective solutions to partner with the community and safeguard high value areas.

3.3 Create partnerships to undertake research and conservation actions on key vulnerable wildlife species.

3.4 Work together to coordinate bushfire and pest management across the city’s hinterland.

3.5 Work with stakeholders to direct investment into securing the city’s critical wildlife corridors, core habitat areas and substantial remnants.

12. Do you have any comments which explain your level of support for the above ‘Partners with nature’ actions; An example of what you can say is “It is important to seek funds for protection of our conservation areas from a variety of sources other than ratepayers, however this should not be at the expense of the conservation area by e.g. allowing development within the conservation area or high impact sports with clubhouses etc.”

13. Do you have any additional comments about the Draft Our Natural City Strategy 2017 – 2021?You can put in any of the issues mentioned above here as well as your own comments.