State emblems park: establishment

I raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Environment and Climate Change. The action I seek is that the minister proceed with the creation of a new state emblems park in the Dandenong Ranges. I represent a very special part of Victoria. It is special for a number of reasons, but for the purposes of this debate it is special because it is home to our state flora and fauna emblems. Pink heath is the floral emblem of Victoria; the Leadbeater’s possum, which is endangered, is Victoria’s faunal emblem; and the helmeted honeyeater, which is also endangered, is Victoria’s bird emblem.

The habitat of these endangered species is in and around the Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve in the electorates of Monbulk and Gembrook. This is the sole remaining natural habitat of the helmeted honeyeater, and I am sure the new member for Gembrook is aware of the special responsibility he and I share.

As representatives of this region we need to ensure that our state emblems survive and flourish.

During the last election campaign Victorian Labor made a commitment to proceed with the long hoped for plans to create a state emblems park. We committed to getting the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council to investigate and assess the most appropriate land management arrangements for the creation of this new park. The issue is that at the moment the management of the land in which these special animals live is divergent — the land is fragmented, there are small parcels of land along a corridor and there is little coordination. The habitat covers the Woori Yallock, Emerald, Sassafras, Menzies and Cockatoo creeks, and the state emblems park would link the Dandenong Ranges National Park, the Kurth Kiln Regional Park, the Warramate Hills Nature Conservation Reserve and the Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve.

A new state emblems park would create a coordinated series of nature reserves under one park management system with a total area of approximately 5000 hectares.

Other benefits would include the ability of volunteer and friends-of groups, such as the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater, to coordinate their activities and to secure grants from the three levels of government and philanthropic organisations, and then those resources could be distributed right along the corridor. It would also be of great benefit in the area of ecotourism. The creation of a state emblems park would be the culmination of the dream of many dedicated local individuals and organisations.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Bob Anderson of the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater, Jeff Latter from the Johns Hill Landcare Group and Friends of Meander, and Bill Incoll from Monbulk Landcare Group.

I commend this issue to the minister and request that he proceed with plans to create this new park. It is the single best thing that we can do to ensure the survival of our state emblem species that are endangered.

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