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Working together to restore our landscape at Cardinia Creek, Victoria

Working together to restore our landscape at Cardinia Creek, Victoria

Transforming the land back to an urban oasis…

Less than an hour’s drive east of Melbourne’s CBD, stands one of Greenfleet’s flourishing forests in Cardinia Creek Parklands. It took just four years for these bare paddocks to grow into an oasis of native biodiversity. With a grant from the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation, Greenfleet worked with Parks Victoria and the Department of Justice to revegetate the land in Berwick, Victoria.

In 2011, Greenfleet planted 12,000 native seedlings over 12 ha. Together with local community members, we planted a variety of high canopy species, locally native to the area. Over time, these trees can grow up to 30 metres! In the following two years, we infilled the site with grasses and small shrubs. These 'understorey' species don’t grow quite as tall as the canopy species, but are a vital layer in a growing biodiverse forest. In 2014, we completed the project at Cardinia Creek by revegetating a further 7 ha with 9,200 seedlings.

Up until we started revegetating this site, the land had been used by local farmers for cattle grazing for many years. Six years after the initial planting, we’re thrilled to witness the migration of native wildlife back to the area. Greenfleet Forester, Eoghan O’Connor, recently visited the forest for a routine check up. “The 2011 planting at Cardinia creek is progressing very well. There is excellent coverage right across the site and the young forest has begun to self-propagate (the process of natural reproduction) already, creating further resilience within the planting. The native grasses planted throughout are generating good ground cover habitat for small creatures and the bird, insect and macropod populations are continuing to rise in tune with the growing forest”, said Eoghan.

… and empowering the local community…

Our native forest at Cardinia Creek was revegetated as part of a boarder community plan by Parks Victoria to establish more recreational space and much-needed habitat corridors in the sprawling outer eastern suburbs.

One of the key aspects of this reforestation project was the strong involvement with the local community. In 2011, the project was kicked off with a community planting day where local residents, schools, Scout groups, MPs and the Department of Justice (Community Correctional Services) joined us to plant the first trees of the project. It was a great way to empower the community and demonstrate the benefits of our work, firsthand.

Over the years, we continued our partnership with the Department of Justice. We worked with Community Correctional Services and Holmesglen TAFE to provide low-risk offenders with the opportunity to serve community-based orders in a positive environment, and gain valuable skills and experience of Australian forestry practices. At the time, Beverley Garratt from Community Correctional Services said that the offenders working on the project “felt valued and can measure their contribution to the community.” 

In 2013, the Cardinia Creek project won the Environmental Sustainability Project Award at the Corrections Victoria – Community Partnership Awards ceremony. This recognized the collaborative effort of Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Greenfleet, Corrections Victoria, Holmesglen TAFE and Parks Victoria for this project as well as its amazing environmental outcomes.

The park was officially opened to the public in 2014. Easy access to nature reserve is important for local communities across the globe, and become increasingly more important as our cities develop. We’re proud to have been able to bring this park to life in partnership with Parks Victoria.

… to deliver outstanding environmental benefits!

The owners of the site, before Parks Victoria acquired the property, had maintained patches of remnant vegetation and a lagoon. “The idea is to connect the bush blocks that are isolated from the Cardinia Creek and form a corridor for wildlife to move along,” explained Parks Victoria Ranger, John Goodman.

The lagoon is also one of the rare places in Australia where the Dwarf Galaxia (Galaxiella pusilla) can be found. The native freshwater fish is considered vulnerable in Victoria and was recommended to be listed as nationally endangered in 2015. Land clearing and uncontrolled stock access to streamside are known to negatively impact Dwarf Galaxia’s habitat and increase the risk of sedimentation and deterioration of water quality. By restoring the land, the aim is also for the forest to help improve and maintain water quality in the lagoon and Cardinia Creek, and therefore restore habitat for the rare fish.

This project demonstrates how people can have a hands-on role in regenerating natural carbon sinks, to sequester carbon dioxide and tackle the issue of climate change, while delivering high environmental benefits for the local area.