Council plans gradual replacement of coastal shrubs

COASTAL wattle and tea-trees along Warrnambool’s foreshore could  progressively be replaced by indigenous seaside species under new management plans adopted by the city council last night.

Controlled burning is also considered as a viable option under the new 10-year policy documents approved on a 4-3 vote.

However, there is little likelihood of a major relaxation of guidelines around trimming of vegetation blocking views from the popular McGennan car park. 

Wattles, tea-trees and marram grass were listed  among several invasive weed species, many  of which  will be removed.

Work will also be done to restrict vehicles and horses from sensitive environmental areas, particularly at Levys Point. Better rabbit control is also recommended.

In two of the most detailed reports to come to the council table in many years the raft of revised guidelines were outlined along with extensive community feedback late last year.

City growth director Bill Millard said the   plans would provide more consistency with less bureacracy for the council in undertaking work on coastal Crown land for which is it the local manager.

“It gives us a framework to operate in, but if we vary from that we would have to seek permission from government departments,” he said. 

A total of  98 indigenous and 105 introduced species are recorded along the Warrnambool coastline. Six species are listed as rare or threatened and have state significance.

While the new guidelines indicate coastal wattle and tea-trees will be removed from the Granny’s Grave area, there is no push for urgent removal of these species from the main promenade closer to the main beach.

Instead the tea-tree will be left to stabilise the dunes and replaced as it deteriorates.

“Although coastal tea-tree is not indigenous, it does provide some habitat values and significant physical structure,”  the strategy report says.

“A large investment in revegetation is not desirable in the long term.”

Instead, the strategy says as tea-tree falls over it should be replaced with  coastal dune scrub, while drooping sheoak and boobialla should be added where tall vegetation was appropriate.

“Current” views of the beach from the car park and pedestrian walk should be maintained through annual trimming, it says.

It was use of the term “current”  that prompted councillors Peter Sycopoulis, Peter Hulin and Brian Kelson to vote against the plans, arguing that residents were still wanting the view restored to what it was years ago.

Other councillors noted contradictions about tea-tree, but said the new management plans were a step in the right direction to give more consistency and local autonomy. 

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