Aboriginal cultural landscape celebrated in Gariwerd plan
Wednesday 11 November, 2020
Public feedback sought on draft landscape management plan
The ancient and enduring Aboriginal cultural heritage of the Grampians is at the heart of a draft plan to manage the landscape for the next 15 years.
Also known as ‘Gariwerd’, the landscape is much more than its dramatic physical features – with all of the lands, waterways, plants, animals and night skies retaining deep spiritual and cultural meaning to Traditional Owners.
Released today for feedback, the draft Greater Gariwerd Landscape Management Plan sets out proposed strategies to celebrate and protect this heritage-listed landscape, safeguard and restore its environmental values, and provide sustainable opportunities for a range of activities.
Developed by Parks Victoria and Traditional Owner corporations following community consultation, the draft plan outlines proposed initiatives for the Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park and some other nearby parks and reserves. These includes for environmental conservation, cultural heritage protection, fire and emergency management, public safety, recreation, visitation, and tourism.
Central to the draft plan is recognition of Traditional Owners’ enduring connection to Country that they have cared for over thousands of years. Victoria has a rich Aboriginal culture which has been protected for many years by legislation, including the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 and The National Park Act 1975. The draft management plan outlines actions to protect and celebrate the cultural heritage of Gariwerd, recognise Aboriginal place names, help visitors understand more about the cultural landscape, and apply traditional land management practices, such as cultural burning.
Contemporary land management will also target a range of threats to an environment that holds one-third of Victoria’s flora, abundant wildlife, and which is the largest water catchment for the region. These threats include invasive and introduced animals, weeds, bushfires, floods and a changing climate. The restoration of habitat and ecosystems, and re-introduction of culturally significant animals such as dingoes, quolls, bandicoots and wallabies, are key aspirations.
The health of the landscape will also be protected by using management zones to guide where recreation, tourism and other activities can sustainably occur. Each year the 180,000-hectare landscape receives more than 1 million visitors, with people enjoying activities including bushwalking, camping, cycling, sightseeing, fishing, nature-appreciation, rock climbing and four-wheel driving. Designating areas for particular purposes is an important way to conserve the environment while supporting visitation, healthy lifestyles, tourism and the regional economy.
Designated areas will ensure rock climbing can sustainably continue in the landscape. Following extensive assessments, the draft plan establishes 89 areas where rock climbing can take place with minimal or manageable impact on the environment and cultural values. Sixty-six areas have been identified as incompatible with climbing because Aboriginal cultural heritage or special environmental values exist, such as priority habitats for threatened wildlife. Future assessments will provide guidance on another 126 climbing areas, and also designate the locations where bouldering can take place.
Similarly, natural and cultural values will be protected by having campers stay only in designated campsites. Over past years, camping in unofficial areas has led to increased issues of vegetation loss, erosion, soil compaction, human waste and illegal campfires. New campgrounds are proposed in the national park, including the conversion of some informal camping areas into designated campgrounds so that safety, hygiene and the environment can be managed.
Dozens of further management strategies are contained within the draft Greater Gariwerd Landscape Management Plan, which is now available on the Engage Victoria website
Parks Victoria and Traditional Owner representatives will be hosting online public information sessions during November and December to discuss the plan, with feedback open until 24 January 2021.
All feedback will be considered as part of developing a final management plan, which will be submitted to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change for review.
Quotes attributable to Matthew Jackson, Chief Executive Officer–Parks Victoria:
“This draft plan aims to meet the many complex challenges facing this unique landscape so that it is healthy and resilient for future generations.”
“While these parks and reserves exist primarily to conserve natural and cultural values, as required by legislation, they play an important role in connecting people with nature. This draft plan outlines how sustainable recreation and visitation will continue, while ensuring this special landscape is protected.”
“Parks Victoria is proud to be working with Traditional Owners to develop a 15-year plan to protect and celebrate the greater Gariwerd cultural landscape.”