Pious declarations about action over climate change would ring more true if action was taken where it matters – such as keeping trees alive and retaining native vegetation. When we bought our property at Grantville, we quickly realised the importance of the native vegetation on the site which provided the only vegetated link between the Bass River and the Grantville Nature Conservation Reserve. We chose to opperate as a free range egg farm rather than clear all the land to graze sheep or cattle. Now our property and its resident wildlife faces the threat of the wholesale removal of vegetation on adjoining land to prepare for a massive sand extraction industry.
Bass Coast Shire supports the clearing and subsequent contamination of the Bass River and adjoining land. Its Planning Department claims “The Native vegetation removal by Barro Group was exempt from the need of a planning permit. It was undertaken for fire prevention purposes and an exemption under the Planning Scheme is afforded to them to have undertaken these works.” However, the Shire has failed to specify what the fire control measures were supposed to protect and why clearing on the river was not referred to Melbourne Water as required by legislation. The importance of the vegetation as a wildlife corridor was identified in the Regional Sand Extraction Strategy, Lang Lang to Grantille. This defined a clear biolink – all the Shire needed to do was implement (and enforce)the Sand Extraction Strategy from 1995.No one at Landcare or in the CFA has the skills required to match the work undertaken by those who developed and mapped the plan of the vegetation and wildlife corridor. Led by consultants AGC Woodward Clyde, they included Biosis Research, Andrew Paget of Ausbotany Marcus Marsden and Nicolas Day as well as countless hours put in by members of Friends of Bass Valley Bush Landcare Group.Trashing habitat in the Bass Valley demonstrates the low priority given to ecological issues. Bass Coast Shire has failed to enforce permit conditions.If the Council was serious, it would cancel the Barro Group planning permit. The importance of the area has been recognised for years, including The 1970’s Westernport Environmental Study conducted by Professor Maurice Shapiro and the 1990’s Baseline Studies of Bass River conducted by Friends of Bass Valley Bush Landcare Group for the Natural Heritage Trust in addition to the Regional Sand Extraction Strategy, Lang to Grantville.More than 375 types of native vegetation have been documented here with over 140 bird species, 17 mammal/marsupials and 22 types of reptiles.