Ballarat changemakers

Ballarat is home to some wonderful natural assets. To make sure these are well looked after now and into the future, a dedicated group of residents is working with the City of Ballarat to shape the regeneration and improvement of biodiversity and habitat links across the east of the city.

Environmental champions: Andrea Mason and Jeff Rootes are working with the City of Ballarat to create a network of natural corridors to boost habitat for wildlife and improve our city’s natural environment. Image taken prior to COVID-19 Stage 3 restrictions.

With community at the heart of this project, Jeff Rootes from the Friends of Canadian Corridor and Andrea Mason from the Bunanyung Landscape Alliance, which takes its name from the old Wadawurrung spelling of Buninyong, are working with the City of Ballarat to develop the Living Corridors Action Plan.

Developed with community consultation from the Buninyong Township Plan, Ballarat East Local Area Plan and Brown Hill Local Area Plan, the plan will strengthen connections between people, wildlife and vegetation, bringing together a network of natural areas across Ballarat.

South Ward Councillor Des Hudson says the plan will make sure we have in place the right tools for the protection of the natural values of the city.

"This plan will help us understand the best way to strengthen connections and habitat links from Woowookarung Regional Park into the urban parts of Ballarat and to properly manage the city’s natural values across the east of Ballarat."

– Cr Des Hudson

The draft Living Corridors Action Plan is now being written with community representatives on the working group, including Jeff and Andrea, and the City of Ballarat’s Strategic Planning team. Councillor Hudson says the draft plans will be available for public feedback soon.

"I encourage everyone to have their say on these important strategic plans."

– Cr Des Hudson

A Ballarat East resident, Jeff is Secretary of both the Friends of Canadian Corridor and Bunanyung Landscape Alliance. Jeff and Friends of Canadian Corridor were instrumental in establishing the Woowookarung Regional Park in the Canadian Forest with Parks Victoria.

“Living Corridors is essentially the next step. There are 11 creeks down this side of Ballarat and every one of them is in trouble,” Jeff says.

“We want this to be step one in the process. We want to build a better landscape plan for the community,” Andrea adds.

Since the goldrush, many of the creeks around Ballarat have been filled in with rubbish and earth dumping, dredged in some places and covered over with pipes and silt.

Andrea Mason and Jeff Rootes

Excited by what the project means for Ballarat, Jeff says it’s important to bring nature back to the waterways.

The Living Corridors Action Plan offers the potential to improve the function of creeks and waterways to ensure that they are managed well to strengthen water flows and enhance habitat.

This will help to integrate natural assets with surrounding housing and also provide recreational and nature benefits for the community.

“We look forward to working with the City of Ballarat to bring nature back along the living creek corridors in the form of birds, animals, koalas and all the other little critters that live alongside and in healthy creeks,” says Jeff.

“We also want to acknowledge the wonderful people in the 1980s who had foresight and perseverance to restore creek habitats and build trails like the Yarrowee River trail.

“In 20 years, hopefully all creeks will have a walking track and they will be connected.”

With a community passionate about protecting the natural environment, the plan will make sure everyone works together to protect areas for wildlife across the east of Ballarat, including landowners and community members alongside the City of Ballarat.

Recommendations from the Living Corridors Action Plan will be fed back into the Buninyong Township Plan and the Ballarat East and Brown Hill Local Area Plans, making sure living corridors are a focus for communities.

The City of Ballarat has also prepared a new Master Plan for the Yarrowee River. The draft plan will be released for public comment shortly.

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