Strategic Planning for Melbourne's Green Wedges
This paper highlights some critical trade-offs between competing land uses in the Green Wedges, particularly where areas with high biodiversity values are involved.
Twelve areas of land within seventeen municipalities that surround the urban boundary of Greater Melbourne, have been designated by the Victorian Government as Green Wedges. These areas include public land, water catchments, agricultural land, conservation areas, cultural sites and have included quarries, totalling about three times the size of Urban Melbourne.
Their proximity to Melbourne’s large and growing population base, together with their diverse land uses, make Melbourne’s Green Wedges increasingly important for the health and wellbeing of Victorians and visitors, as well as for biodiversity conservation. This paper highlights some critical trade-offs between competing land uses in the Green Wedges, particularly where areas with high biodiversity values are involved. Rapid biodiversity loss, at a time when the importance of nature for health and wellbeing is being increasingly recognised, argues for biodiversity values to be given primacy in Green Wedge policy and planning, but these values are grossly underrepresented in the State Government Consultation Paper, Planning for Melbourne’s Green Wedges and Agricultural Land (DELWP 2020), which places priority on protecting agricultural land uses. A likely consequence of the approach taken by the Consultation Paper is further and continued irreversible destruction of Victoria’s biodiversity and socio-ecological systems, at a time when we should be strengthening these values.
Integrated strategic planning for the Green Wedges, set within a state policy and planning context that asserts the primacy of Ecologically Sustainable Development principles in general, and biodiversity conservation in particular, is key to a more sustainable future for Melbourne’s crucial and increasingly valuable Green Wedges. This should involve integration of sector level strategic planning for potential valued uses of Green Wedge land with regional strategic planning for the Green Wedge areas. Because of the significance of the Green Wedges, the integrated strategic planning process should be led by the State Government, with local government and community involvement. Implementation planning should then be led by Green Wedge local governments, within the policy and planning framework set by the state. Visioning and policy setting processes need to provide clear signals about the outcome intentions for biodiversity conservation within the Green Wedges. A Mornington Peninsula case study is used to show how biodiversity and tourism values should be given priority over quarrying on land with high natural values.
Associate Professor Janet Stanley
Professor John Stanley
MSSI’s Research Paper series is aimed at showcasing new and exciting sustainability knowledge. The papers are referenced and are subject to an internal academic review process. The Institute hopes this scholarship will stimulate thought and discussion within the University of Melbourne and in the broader community.