The Canadian Forest was under deep discussion last night as 75 people gathered to learn and share thoughts about 300 hectares of cleared pine and blue gum plantation blocks being handed back to the Victorian government by the East Victoria Plantation company.
“Keep it in in public hands!” – was the resounding call of the forum, organised by the Friends of the Canadian Corridor at the Earth Science Centre at Mt Clear.
Future options were outlined by three guest speakers. Associate Professor Singarayer Florentine from the University of Ballarat’s School of Environmental Management set out the global context of deforestation and offered the results of a range of models for revegetation. He emphasised setting a series of objectives using known successful practice with the aim of developing a self-sustaining, ecologically healthy landscape, taking existing social involvements into consideration.
Mr Hedley Thomson the co-author of the City of Ballarat’s Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management, described the land’s significance from a planning perspective to the people of Ballarat since the early 1970s. He explained how the existing forest could be linked to remnant stands of Koala friendly forest in a corridor stretching from the University to Pryor Park on Eureka St. “This land is more important for its future than its’ past,” he said.
Mr Matt Pywell, the proprietor of Ballarat Wild Plants, talked about how natural revegetation is occurring rapidly on the land. “You don’t have to drive to the Grampians to have a wildflower experience. It’s a sea of purple chocolate lilies in some places. Ballarat is lucky to have it close by.”
The Friends of the Canadian Corridor formed in November 2012, representing residents and groups interested in the future of the Canadian Corridor and Forest. It is anticipated the forum will start a wider Ballarat discussion in the hope of creating a well thought out, collaborative vision for the cleared land. As a premier inland provincial city the Friends of the Canadian Corridor believe future generations should enjoy the wildlife, environment values and recreation opportunities of a multi-use forest park, as do places like Bendigo and Hepburn.
A number of community organisations who currently have deep interest in the area set up displays at the forum. They included the Leigh Catchment Group, The Great Dividing Trail Association, Eureka Orienteers, Ballarat East Network, members of the Ballarat Observatory and the Ballarat Field Naturalist Club.
Chair of the meeting Mr Bob Hartmann said at the conclusion of the forum “There is general agreement that the ex-plantation land should remain in public ownership, and become a regional park preferably with management by the Ballarat Environment Network through the City of Ballarat, or Parks Victoria, through the Department of Sustainability and Environment.”
The FoCC will continue to develop a vision and advocate for the establishment of a multi-use park and invites contact from interested members of the public. A request for such a park will now be made to the Victorian Assistant Treasurer Mr Gordon Rich-Phillips.
Linda Zibell 0429932724 or Jeff Rootes 0408509591