Knox Council has endorsed a plan that provides clear direction for the future development of Koolunga Native Reserve.
The Reserve is located at the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges National Park and is one of the early catchments for Blind Creek and later the Dandenong Creek. These flow through Knox and provide a wildlife corridor linking the national park through suburbia.
Knox Mayor, Cr Marcia Timmers-Leitch thanked the residents and community user groups, including Friends of Koolunga Native Reserve and Stewards of Koolunga, who shared their feedback to help shape the Future Directions Plan.
“I appreciate the effort that has gone into engaging with the community in shaping this plan and look forward to everyone coming together to enjoy the natural environment of this site of biological significance,” she said.
“The reserve is highly valued by our local community because of its environmental significance and natural features and is regularly used for passive recreation and social gathering.
“The Future Directions Plan aims to protect the biodiversity and habitat, better manage stormwater to improve water quality and continue to welcome the local community to enjoy the natural environment and improve their health and wellbeing.”
The Future Directions Plan contains 21 actions, with Council identifying four priority actions to be undertaken first. The priority actions are: working with Melbourne Water to improve the functionality of the Forest Road Drain; installing a Gross Pollutant Trap (GPT) and consideration for a biofiltration raingarden or small wetland to the west of Forest Road; diverting some of the flow from the Forest Road Drain to the ephemeral watercourse within the reserve; and developing a plan for the staged removal of the pine trees throughout the reserve.
Timeline item 1 - complete
March/April 2021 - Community engagement on wetland design
Timeline item 2 - complete
April/May 2021 - Collation of community feedback
Timeline item 3 - complete
October/November 2021 - Focus group sessions
Timeline item 4 - complete
January 2021 - Community engagement on focus group outcomes
Timeline item 5 - complete
April 2022 - Values Report released
Timeline item 6 - complete
May 2022 - Site walk and virtual tours
Timeline item 7 - complete
January 2022 - Koolunga Native Reserve Values Plan finalised
Timeline item 8 - complete
February 2023 - Commence work on the Future Directions Plan
Timeline item 9 - complete
April 2023 - Community consultation on the draft Future Directions Plan
Open 26 April to 11.59pm Sunday 28 May 2023.
Timeline item 10 - complete
24 July 2023 - Future Directions Plan for Koolunga Native Reserve considered by Council
Frequently Asked Questions
This Reserve is identified as a site of State significance in terms of its biological values due to the presence of many rare or threatened indigenous plant species. Therefore, it is vital to ensure we have plans in place to protect and preserve the flora and fauna both within the Reserve and downstream.
There are significant concerns about erosion created by stormwater events and the level of pollution in the creek. We need to create an environmentally friendly stormwater treatment solution to filter stormwater runoff from surrounding urban areas before it enters Blind Creek waterway.
In early 2021, we proposed a new wetland at Koolunga Native Reserve to address this issue.
Due to Koolunga Reserve’s large proportion of vegetation, the recommended location for the proposed wetland was in the largest area of open lawn. The response from the community was mixed, with some stakeholders supporting the proposal and a strong negative reaction from those that use the space for passive recreation.Following extensive feedback on the wetlands and alternate suggestions, we have broadened the project scope with Future Directions Plan that takes into consideration the whole Reserve including open space values and connectivity. As part of this we have also commenced work on a site specific ‘Stormwater Quality Study’ that will consider opportunities to improve water quality within the reserve that minimizes the impact on open space and bushland.
Council has carried out an extensive program of engagements over the last year, with approximately 133 residents providing input into the Values Plan. An outline of the consultation and a summary of findings is included in the Koolunga Native Reserve engagement summary and values plan available on this Have Your Say page.
Changes have been made to the Values Plan as the project has progressed. This has included ensuing the document is up to date with what we heard in different stages of consultation, changes in timelines and making the document more accessible and consistent.
A minor adjustment to the definition of the Friends of Koolunga on Page 4 of the Values Plan was made in March. This has no material impact on the output of the report.
Early in the process, we heard from the community that Koolunga Reserve is very important to you for a number of reasons. We wanted to put additional time in to ensure we were able to capture your feedback into the Values Plan, along with broadening the project to look at the future of the entire Reserve.
Importantly your feedback highlighted the need to preserve the many features of the open space that are highly valued by the community and to protect and enhance the natural elements, including the quality of the water and condition of the creek.
We have updated our Bushland Management Plan which outlines our future flora and fauna management issues and actions at Koolunga.
We have completed a site specific ‘Stormwater Quality Study’ that considers options at the site that can improve the quality of the stormwater flowing into the Reserve that minimises the impact on open space and bushland that are valued by the community.
The draft Future Directions Plan has now been prepared using the information provided in the 3 key documents:
- Koolunga Native Reserve Values Plan
- Koolunga Native Reserve and Vaughan Reserve Bushland Management Plan
- Koolunga Native Reserve Stormwater Quality Study
We understand there is frustration that we have not met our initial timelines, our priority is to deliver a thorough and transparent process that provides the best outcomes for Koolunga Native Reserve and our community.
No. The previously proposed wetlands has not been included as an action within the draft Future Directions Plan as it would reduce the amount of grassed open space area currently used for community recreation activities.
Council undertook investigations n 2018 which formed the basis of the original proposal of a wetland in the open space area at Koolunga Native Reserve.
Following extensive feedback and alternate suggestions, we had to take another look at the options we had at the site that can improve the quality of the stormwater flowing into the Reserve and that incorporates the feedback received from the community
We have now completed a site specific ‘Stormwater Quality Study’ that considers opportunities to improve water quality within the reserve that minimizes the impact on open space and bushland.
In the early stages of the project, it was identified that more in depth conversations with stakeholders would assist in shaping and developing the Future Directions Plan.
Following the initial 2021 community engagement and the strong community interest in the project, Council wrote to approximately 1,300 households to invite residents to join the ‘Koolunga Project Focus Group’. We received a significant amount of interest with 43 residents keen to join the group, 31 of which were able to attend the sessions to help inform the Values Plan.
We acknowledge that referring to this group as both the ‘focus group’ and ‘Steering Group’ has created confusion. In the final version of the Values Plan, the group is referred to as the Steering Group.
We will be reconnecting with participants involved in the Values Plan engagement for consultation on the Draft Future Directions Plan in April 2023. Previous participants will be contacted directly.
Draft Koolunga Native Reserve Future Directions Plan - April 2023PDF (18.05 MB)
Koolunga Native Reserve draft Future Directions summary plan A3PDF (330.26 KB)
Koolunga Native Reserve Stormwater Study 2023PDF (5.42 MB)
Koolunga Native Reserve and Vaughan Reserve Bushland Management Plan 2022PDF (9.30 MB)
Koolunga Native Reserve Values Plan FinalPDF (9.28 MB)
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