With apologies, here’s a statement of the obvious: roads aren’t just bare surfaces for carrying vehicles. They’re framed by roadside reserves, which carry some very important vegetation.
Mount Alexander Shire Council is preparing a planning scheme amendment to insert a Vegetation Protection Overlay (VPO) on some roadsides into the planning scheme. FOBIF strongly supports such a project, and has approached council seeking input into the process.This is not the first attempt to look at ways of protecting the values of our roadsides. The last produced the Mount Alexander Roadside Management plan in 2012. It can be found online here.
Before that, a Roadsides Management Strategy was produced in 1998. In some respects this was a model document, because it carried appendices totalling 144 pages of detailed assessments of the ecological values of almost all the rural roads of the shire. This was a massive achievement of painstaking on site study by Castlemaine field naturalists over five years. Although time has modified the assessments in this study, most of it remains very pertinent to present conditions, and we hope that Council in its present deliberations will check on its assessments. In 2008 the Catchment Management Authority also did a study of our roads. The very informative maps from this study can be found here. It found that 19% of Mount Alexander Shire’s roadsides had high conservation value, and a further 28% were of medium conservation value: that’s 1090 kilometres of roadsides with interesting stuff worth careful management. Given the shire’s responsibilities in the matters of safety, fire management and weed control, that’s no easy task—which makes the present project all the more important.