A new approach is proposed to manage our environment and connect our neighbourhoods

Through Ballarat Imagine, the community outlined that parks and open space and Ballarat’s natural and recreational areas are critical to the future of the city. The current suite of natural and managed open space areas is highly valued, but there was a desire expressed to better manage and connect them in a more cohesive and logical way.

Recognise Strategic Habitat Connections

Ballarat is recognised as being located within a landscape scale biolink connection through Central and Western Victoria. The remnant native bush and grasslands allow for the movement of animals and plants through the landscape, linking areas like the Canadian Forest with the Creswick Forests and beyond. There is currently no formal recognition of these connections, nor a clear policy position on how to enhance these connections over the long-term. As development occurs, incremental decision-making within these corridors can make a big difference to the amount of remaining remnant vegetation. Planning controls offer the opportunity to support development outcomes which could enhance and improve linkages of habitat. The introduction of the Neighbourhood Residential Zone into fringe areas of the Canadian Valley is a recent first step in better managing the urban interface with forest areas. A considered and evidence based investigation of further controls to recognise biolink connections is proposed, offering the opportunity to enable land development in a manner reflecting the wider needs and aspirations for the landscape.

The Living Corridors Concept

A new ‘Living Corridors’ network of recreational and biological links is proposed to provide for a more cohesive network of connections between natural areas, along rivers and creeks and between key open space and recreational destinations. It expands on the extensive Council and community driven work of the Ballarat LINCS Strategy (1996), which has resulted in the Yarrowee River trail and other key linkages that are key connections today for Ballarat.

Ballarat already has an extensive trail network, including the trails following the Yarrowee River and Burrumbeet Creeks, the Skipton and Bunny Rail Trails and the Goldfields Trail. Further extensions along creek lines have been embedded in the future planning for the Ballarat West Growth Area. However, there are also a number of other areas, including Lake Wendouree, Victoria Park and other smaller natural pockets of open space parks which could be better linked and the management and promotion of those links expressed in a more cohesive way. Opportunities for improved linkages along Ballarat East waterways, and retrofitting of urban waterways such as the Gnarr and Redan Creeks could also provide new opportunities for improved off road linkages and understanding of our natural systems. People, wildlife and vegetation all benefit from continuity of natural areas and strong connections between them, and the introduction of the Living Corridors Concept is intended to link the surrounding natural landscape through the urban environment to natural areas within the city. The Ballarat Open Space Strategy (particularly section 13.4) already identifies major linkage opportunities which are complementary to the proposed Living Corridors. Off road linkages to our satellite townships including Buninyong, Cardigan Village, Miners Rest and Learmonth provide significant opportunity for a more inclusive and enjoyable community in these areas. The improvement of linkages within smaller townships, including Buninyong, Learmonth and Miners Rest are already underway.

In addition to just recreational trails, Living Corridors can also be major streets and public transport corridors linking neighbourhood centres to each other and the Central City, where the tree planting provides habitat and a high amenity connection. Innovative building designs which incorporate garden walls and rooftop gardens, for example, could also contribute.  In some cases, a living corridor may not be a single street, but multiple parallel streets serving complementary functions. Living Corridors are valued by the community as critical to the local sense of identity and enjoyable destinations. They are also connections, in that they could offer a high amenity environment, with bike and pedestrian facilities, large canopy trees, resting places and other place-making amenities.

The urban forest

Ballarat’s urban forest comprises all of the trees, other vegetation, soil and water that support it within the municipality.

It incorporates vegetation in streets, parks, gardens, river and creek embankments, wetlands, railway corridors, urban spaces, city entrances and private gardens. It relates to both public and private realm trees on land used for the full range of uses. The community values our parks, gardens, green spaces and tree-lined streets.

City of Ballarat undertakes an extensive tree planting program every year to expand the urban forest and off-set the loss of older trees in decline. According to a recent study, Ballarat has 17% tree canopy coverage across the entire municipality, on public and private land4. City of Ballarat data indicates approximately 16% canopy coverage on Council owned land in urban areas.

A target of at least 40% urban canopy coverage is currently under investigation for public and private land by 2040. There are many benefits to developing and improving the urban forest including supporting air quality, water management, provision of shade, habitat and nutrient cycling, and providing the high amenity city valued by the residents and visitors alike.

Current work underway in Ballarat related to the establishment of Landscape Character Areas and associated guidelines will assist in guiding the themes of tree planting as part of the Urban Forest.

Generally, the urban forest approach involves:

  • Increasing the amount of tree canopy coverage over a given area in a given time
  • Protecting existing established trees in parks, streets, public spaces and private landscapes
  • Protecting and improving the linking of habitat and support for biodiversity
  • Increasing shade and the natural cooling of the natural and built environment
  • Reducing the impacts of heat in urban areas and increasing carbon uptake
  • Increasing amenity, the liveability of neighbourhoods, and property values
  • Increasing tree diversity so the forest is more adaptive to changing climatic conditions
  • Reinforcement of the landscape character of any given area.

The concepts of Living Corridors and Boulevards are deeply integrated with the Urban Forest approach.

Integrated development of these networks as part of a cohesive long-term strategy to improve urban tree cover and environmental components of the city will have wide-ranging benefits for Ballarat.




Finding Out More

Download The “Preliminary”
Ballarat Strategy

If you would like to meet with council officers to discuss the Preliminary Ballarat Strategy, please contact the Planning Strategy unit on 5320 5119 or by email ballaratstrategy@ballarat.vic.gov.au to arrange a time.

Requesting a hard copy of the Strategy

If you would like a copy of the Strategy posted to you, please contact Planning Strategy by phone 5320 5119 or email ballaratstrategy@ballarat.vic.gov.au

Alternatively you will be able to collect a copy of the Strategy from the Ballarat Town Hall, 225 Sturt Street, Ballarat.