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Belfast Coastal Reserve Management Plan

Belfast Coastal Reserve

Parks Victoria is currently developing a Management Plan for the Belfast Coastal Reserve – a coast and wetlands area stretching between Port Fairy and Warrnambool in south west Victoria.

Background

The 20km coastline between Warrnambool and Port Fairy in south west Victoria is known for its wild and unspoilt nature, with sandy beaches, grassy dunes and basaltic outcrops and reefs. The powerful waves and cool onshore winds from the Southern Ocean create a majestic character.

The area is home to many native coastal and wetland birds including Hooded Plover, Lathams Snipe and Orange-bellied Parrot. There are also many sites of important Aboriginal heritage, both physical and spiritual, along the coast. Popular recreation activities here include walking, dog walking, swimming, surfing, kite boarding, fishing, snorkelling, horse riding and bird watching.

Belfast Coastal Reserve, managed by Parks Victoria, represents a large part of the area with over 16km of shoreline. The reserve is public land set aside for protection of the coastline, to be managed for conservation, education and compatible recreation. Some smaller sections of coastline are managed by Moyne Shire and Warrnambool City Council.

Issues

The recent increase in commercial racehorse training on beaches and dunes in the area has caused community concerns about safe public access to the beach, impacts to the environment such as beach nesting bird habitat (in particular Hooded Plover), and impacts to Aboriginal Cultural Heritage.

To address these concerns, the Minister has instructed Parks Victoria to lead the development of a Management Plan. The plan will include public land areas adjacent to the Belfast Coastal Reserve, including Levy’s Point Coastal Reserve which is managed by local council.

Community engagement

Community engagement is an essential part of the planning process and Parks Victoria will ensure to provide formal and informal opportunities for community input, including interested organisations and individuals. In developing the plan, it is important that Parks Victoria hears the views of the broad range of people who have an interest in the Belfast Coast.

The project team has recently released the Phase 2 Community Engagement Report, summarising the findings from stakeholders, community groups and the general public. Recommendations included within this report will be used to develop the draft Management Plan, which is expected to be released for public comment in October 2017.

Keep informed

If you would like to be kept informed about the progress of the project and opportunities for input, please provide your name and contact details (either your email or postal address) to parkplan@parks.vic.gov.au, (don’t forget to include ‘Belfast Coastal Reserve’ in the header of your email).

Process and timeline

Stakeholder and community engagement for the Coastal Management Plan will occur in four phases. This will provide a range of opportunities for engagement and input.

Phase 1: Engagement planning, commenced in January 2017.

Phase 2: Hearing all the voices, commenced in April 2017.

Phase 3: Understanding the issues, during September 2017.

Phase 4: Reaching solutions, running between October and December 2017.