Coastal reserve ‘world class’

Photo by Damjan Janevski.

By Justin Flynn

Preliminary work on a potential “world class conservation area” stretching from Ocean Grove to Point Lonsdale is about to start.

The South East Bellarine Coastal Reserve Strategy, the brainchild of Ocean Grove Community Association, would further enhance one of the most significant conservation areas in the region, according to the City of Greater Geelong.

Plans for the reserve could include an interpretive centre, school camp or outdoor education facility.

“We are very excited by the concept and think it has the potential to be a world class conservation area,” mayor Stephenie Asher said.

“There are a lot of issues and challenges that need to be considered, so we’re keen to progress those investigations and better understand how this can best be delivered.”

The city is recruiting a project planner to advance the project by establishing a multi-disciplinary panel of experts and stakeholders.

Priorities of the panel will include developing concepts for the enhanced protection of the woodland, dune and wetland systems and to determine future management options.

Ocean Grove Community Association chairperson Phil Edwards said he was “very excited about council stepping up and running with the vision”.

The concept for a sustainable conservation and heritage-driven protected environmental area was one of the key outcomes from a Southern Bellarine Coastal community forum run by OGCA in 2019..

“We hope council will engage widely and offer the community multiple opportunities to participate in and contribute to the development of a strategy that spans conservation, heritage, education and recreation as well as how to best manage this significant area between Ocean Grove and Point Lonsdale,” Mr Edwards said.

“Above all, we hope to see sensible, practical and implementable outcomes.”

Council said community views will help shape the strategy, with public engagement to play an important role.

A comprehensive report is expected later this year, which will include an overall strategy and an agreed action plan.