Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve - Parks Victoria's proposed fenced shared user pathway.
The photos below were taken Sunday 25th of March on the extension of the ex Keith Turnbull Institute boundary track which runs north south across the Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve.
The Peninsula Link project commits the Linking Melbourne Authority (LMA) to providing a shared path along the Peninsula Link alignment.
The shared path was detached from the freeway alignment at the instigation of Parks Victoria who were supported by Bicycle Victoria and Frankston Council recreational planners.
LMA's EPBC Referral 2009/5001 advises that the proposal was developed because "the EES alignment does not provide the amenity and path connectivity that has been envisaged by Parks Victoria as described in the master plan". The CEO of Parks Victoria did not submit this proposal to the EES panel - it's a "late entry".
As planned this proposal introduces a second element of transport infrastructure which further fragments this Nature Conservation Reserve.
It's proposed to fence the pathway because the Federal Government has said that bandicoot habitat must be protected from domestic pets. Parks Victoria have determined that the path will be fenced in preference to banning dogs.
The fence separates land that will be revegetated at the Federal Minister's direction to provide additional habitat for bandicoots from habitat to the immediate west. (see maps).
Because this is an EPBC matter, there has been no discussion of its impact on the movement of other wildlife eg wallabies, koalas, echidnas or humble blue toungs.
By way of mitigation it's proposed to provided 3x30 metre sections of elevated, fenced board walk in the north/south section. However, the Australian Research Centre of Urban Ecology says "Its not known if bandicoots will move under a board walk that has heavy pedestrian traffic".
The project's EPBC approval required the preparation of a management plan for the southern brown bandicoots. It says:
2.3.1 Goals for the management of Southern Brown Bandicoots
On the basis that the Pines FFR is considered strategically significant (state wide and regionally) for the conservation of SBBs in the south east region of Melbourne, the goal of this management plan is to maximise the SBBs long-term viability in the Pines FFR.
Of threatening processes it says:
4.5 Threatening Process - Loss of Habitat Connectivity
Regardless of the distribution of SBBs within the Pines FFR in relation to Peninsula Link, the same level of connectivity as what currently exists across the Peninsula Link easement must be achieved in the long term. In other words, animals need to be able to move from one side of the Peninsula Link to the other with minimal restrictions.
The key consideration is the maintenance of habitat permeability – a slightly different concept to connectivity. Connectivity can be achieved with a single culvert, while maintaining permeability requires multiple structures.
Permeability is about ensuring animals can cross the road without major detours to reach the crossing structure.
The fenced shared pathway is clearly an impediment to "permeability".
As previously stated, The Federal Minister directed the preparation of The Bandicoot Management Plan and a population viability analysis. A Master Plan for the reserve was also prepared as part of the EES documentation. These documents are yet to be consolidated into a single management plan for this Nature Conservation Reserve which is a biosite of state significance.
The Bandicoot Management plan and the fenced shared path proposal are contradictory in intent and typify the universal conflict between visitor and natural resource managers. It could provide an argument for splitting off from Parks Victoria the management of areas designated for conservation and its handing to an entity whose culture and expertise is more suited to this task.
See Mayday account of Auditor General's Report on PV's management of Marine Procteded Areas
Shared path route - click for enlargement and positioning of underpasses
Download EPBC Referral 2009/5001
Download LMA's response to Feds
Download Bandicoot Management Plan
Southern Brown Bandicoot (A. Kuiter)
Pines F&F Reserve Jan 2011 (Nearmap)
Pines F&F Reserve Nov 2006