Mooroopna and Violet Town host climate change inquiry

By Jamie Salter

The people of Violet Town have established their own forest, which they have shown to a Victorian Parliamentary committee.

MPs from the Legislative Assembly Environment and Planning Committee heard about community initiatives for environmental sustainability at a climate change inquiry in Mooroopna and Violet Town on Wednesday, February 12.

After hearing submissions at Mooroopna, the parliamentary committee travelled to Violet Town to hear from residents about their environmental work.

A number of groups shared their achievements, including the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority's Bogies and Beyond project, which worked with communities to see how climate change might affect them.

Save Our Strathbogie Forest group spokesman Bert Lobert was a part of the Bogies and Beyond project and said nobody knows what issues rural communities will face in the future.

“It's probably going to get hotter and rainfall patterns are going to change, so these projects have allowed us to monitor a variety of things,” Mr Lobert said.

“Water and the health of native vegetation are two of the biggest issues so these projects have put in baseline monitoring, so we know what's happening so can make informed decisions in future.”

Shadforth Reserve Committee chair David Arnold shared his initiative in which the Violet Town community transformed unused land into a tree farm forest.

Community members gathered together and planted trees in one day's work on the Crown land managed by DELWP and Strathbogie Shire Council.

“We can reduce our dependence on CO² emitting coal-fired electricity by having a local wood resource for firewood, and in the longer-term, for construction timber,” Mr Arnold said.

“After this season of fires, there's an appetite to look at what solutions are available, we can't keep letting forests be unmanaged and be presenting a huge fire risk at the urban rural fringe.”

Mr Arnold said the area had become a multi-use space for walking and as an animal habitat.

“There was interest in this project and a lot of positive feedback from the politicians and I hope they can take this kind of local solution on board for how we can integrate taking a productive yield from forests that also have habitat and amenity values.”

Legislative Assembly Environment and Planning Committee chair Darren Cheeseman said regional Victorians demonstrated innovation when tackling climate change challenges.

“This inquiry is about finding out what regional communities are doing and reporting it to parliament, with recommendations about how we can further support these communities in responding to climate change,” Mr Cheeseman said.

“Politicians and parliament don't necessarily know all of the things our very diverse community across Victoria are doing, and we want to find the great examples that exist so that we can build public policy that will encourage other communities to adopt similar measures.”