Kalimna Park co-management: an update

As we’ve previously reported, work is under way to produce a new management plan for Kalimna Park, in the Balak Kalik Manya (Walking Together) project. A progress report by Harley Douglas, manager of the project, is published below.

It’s worth noting in this context that the National Royal Commission on disasters (see below) pays careful attention to Indigenous land management as an important set of practices which could help in fire protection and landscape restoration in increasingly severe conditions:

‘Indigenous land management aims to protect, maintain, heal and enhance healthy and ecologically diverse ecosystems, productive landscapes and other cultural values. It is not solely directed to hazard reduction.’

Recommendation 18 reads, in part:

‘Australian, state, territory and local governments should engage further with Traditional Owners to explore the relationship between Indigenous land and fire management and natural disaster resilience.’

Harley Douglas’s report is as follows:

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The Walking Together- Balak Kalik Manya Project is a four-year project committed to writing site-specific management plans for two sites within Dja Dja Wurrung Country; Kalimna Park in Castlemaine and Wildflower Drive in Bendigo. Both sites were selected due to their proximity to growing townships and the increasing pressures of urbanisation encroaching both park boundaries. The project is exploring how we can increase community connection with nature, how to improve visitation rates and encourage appropriate use of these sites, all while maintaining and improving biodiversity. The project will promote Djaara employment and assist in Djaara reconnecting with traditional practices of land management. For more information on the project please see this short video- https://vimeo.com/441201115

Since our previous newsletter sent out in June, we have completed our visitor experience and use survey, we have completed Djaara members community workshops, and we have completed broader community workshops for Bendigo and Castlemaine, respectively.

The visitor experience and use survey was powered by SurveyMonkey and the data collected was collated through the assistance of Parks Victoria’s Social Science Officer. From the 172 responses received, a summary report has been created merging the data into bar graphs, pie charts and other valuable graphics that quickly summarise demographics and usage of the parks. The survey has proved to be a success with demographics and park usage better understood than previous, along with other learnings associated with threats and values from the community’s perspective.

Djaara community workshops were facilitated remotely to allow for the current COVID-19 restrictions. Two, two-hour sessions were held over Zoom for interested Djaara members to have input into the values, threats, issues, and opportunities associated with both parks. Djaara members workshopped ideas relating to Dja Dja Wurrung’s Goals as listed in ‘Dhelkunya Dja- Dja Dja Wurrung Country Plan 2014-2034.’ The information gathered from our members will be used to develop management strategies, actions, and recommendations.

Issues and opportunities that we discussed in both Djaara and Community workshops:

  • Vehicle access and misuse – Djaara employment
  • Weeds – Onground management
  • Cultural heritage (protection of existing and creation of new)
  • Illegal firewood collection – Carparking
  • Rubbish dumping – Visitor areas
  • Track creation/ Illegal track creation – Community ownership
  • Cultural burning – Education
  • Story telling – Creating open space
  • Predators (cats, dogs, foxes) – Prospecting
  • Threatened species (Eltham Copper Butterfly, Pink-tailed Worm-lizard, Tuan)
  • Signage – Loop walks

Like our Djaara members workshops, broader community workshops were facilitated over Zoom due to COVID-19 as well. We held back-to-back sessions with Castlemaine community members one night, and then the Bendigo community members the following night. In total, we had 38 members of the community participate: 26 in Castlemaine, 12 in Bendigo. We worked through a PowerPoint presentation allowing community the opportunity to speak to threats or values from their perspective. We had some productive conversations that may have got carried away and deviated from the original topic, but all very worthwhile information that will help inform our management plans. The idea of facilitating a large community forum online with many differing opinions and views frightened me, but everybody involved was very respectful of each other’s thoughts and opinions- so I just wanted to thank everybody for making the sessions run as smoothly as possible and contributing valuable information that can only come from members of the community.

So, where to from here? Now that we have received input from Djaara members and community members, we have begun drafting our management plans. We are aiming to have a draft version of our management plans available for public comment at the end of November.

One last thing: Djandak have recently employed two Djandak Junior Rangers to assist with the creation of the management plans, and then oversee the delivery of the on-ground implementation of our management plans for the final 18 months of the project. We have Hakeem Johnson and Sharlee Dunolly-Lee joining the project team, if you see either of them out and about while you are in the park please stop and say g’day.

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