We congratulate the Commissioner of Environmental Sustainability and Senior Science Writer Dr Rebecca Koss for a comprehensive and authoritative report on the state of the Yarra and its parklands.
The State of the Yarra and its Parklands report represents important work required under the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Act. Its production and publication provide an independent and objective scientific basis, informing management of the Yarra River and its parklands. The report will be instrumental to the work of government agencies, councils and community organisations working to manage and protect the Yarra.
With preparations for the comprehensive Yarra Strategic Plan underway, this report is timely and provides a crucial measure and baseline of the work needed from the 15 agencies and councils involved.
The report sounds alarm bells on the state of the Yarra and its parklands, especially in relation to environmental health and resilience. Across most environmental indicators for which there is quality data, the existing state of the river and parklands is poor and facing a trajectory of decline.
This means that actions and planning for the river and parklands, including the outcome of the Yarra Strategic Plan, will have to be ambitious, robust and transformative. In the next 5-10 years, we need to see significant improvements in the health of our most iconic urban river.
The report also identified key areas where information and research need to be generated in order to better understand the social, cultural and environmental needs of the river system. These areas include Aboriginal values, projected climate change impacts, impact of invasive species, and the scope of citizen science. Building that knowledge base will be essential to ambitious, robust and transformative action.
The State of the Yarra report will be instrumental in setting a new course for this key waterway and its social, cultural and economic benefits, which the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act foreshadowed and enabled in 2017.
We strongly support recommendations in the SoYP report to:
• target and build the knowledge base for management of the river and its parklands
• extend and make permanent Yarra River Protection Planning Controls
• expand and build on the protective habitat corridors of the river valley
• build ecosystems resilient to climate change and capable of resisting threats produced by invasive species.