AROUND 11 hectares of bushland on the outskirts of Wonthaggi will be brought back to life, under an ambitious planting and trail project involving local environmental groups.
The bushland is just off Carneys Road – a popular place for motorbikes and 4WDs.
But the South Gippsland Conservation Society, with the Wonthaggi Seed Bank and Community Nursery, want to put an end to the “hoons” using the reserve and add thousands of trees, with a long-term view of having a walking trail.
The groups say it will benefit future generations, including students at the under-construction Wonthaggi Secondary College campus on McKenzie Street.
The environmental groups last week pleaded with the Bass Coast Shire Council for $5000 to help pay for fencing, and planting, to stop the “hoons”.
“This pristine Indigenous land is being rapidly chopped up and decimated,” said Lynda Pettit of the Wonthaggi Seed Bank and Community Nursery.
“This land has the potential to be a gateway for a long pathway that meanders across Wonthaggi to Inverloch, at the back of the RACV.”
She said $5000 was urgently needed to top-up funding for the project.
“We need some additional funding for the plants in the wetlands and the areas that have been chopped up.”
The Carneys Road site is one of the last areas of public land in the Wonthaggi area to be revegetated by volunteer community groups. Landcare has already committed funding for 3000 Indigenous plants.
Beth Banks of the Wonthaggi Seed Bank and Community Nursery said the shire’s young people want more open space and exercise areas.
“We have a large projected growth rate in Wonthaggi and we have to supply some outdoor areas. It needs to be a top priority,” Beth said.
Beth said there are many open space areas all over Wonthaggi, left from the mining area.
“If you look at some towns, there’s nothing in the middle of towns, it’s just acres and acres of houses.
“We have to look at our town and say how damn lucky we are that the mining community has left us with the mining heritage that’s there.
“That’s our heritage we have to preserve and $5000 on top of what you’ve already given us is not a lot of money to start doing this project,” she said.
Beth said volunteers would plant the 3000 Indigenous trees. Seeds collected by the nursery would also be provided for free.
The wetlands site would also be valuable for local school children wanting to learn about the environment.
As the new Wonthaggi Secondary College campus would be next door to the trail and wetlands, the school would save a significant amount of money and effort on organising buses for environmental excursions elsewhere.
The South Gippsland Conservation Society recently applied for a lease from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to manage the Carneys Road site.
The request for funding will be considered as part of the council’s 2018-19 Budget submissions. The budget will be finalised at the shire’s meeting this Wednesday, June 20.