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Community gathering celebrates protection of Spring Creek

THE local community came together last weekend to celebrate the hard-won protection of Spring Creek valley, after the Supreme Court last year dismissed attempts by developers to overturn the Surf Coast Statement of Planning Policy.

Gathering at the Common Ground Project in Freshwater Creek, the sell-out event on April 13 was filled with discussions about the future of the valley, heralding a new era of opportunity for the nationally significant ecosystem.

The sell-out event was held at the Common Ground Project in Freshwater Creek. Photo: FERNE MILLEN

 

Federal Corangamite MP Libby Coker and former Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick, who has long supported the Spring Creek campaign, were also in attendance.

Surf Coast Energy Group (SCEG) founder Graeme Stockton said the biggest takeaway from the event was that the community remained passionate about the valley and its potential.

Photo: FERNE MILLEN

 

“After 17 years, we’ve got to celebrate the fact that Spring Creek valley has been saved. It says a lot about our community: our capacity and our resolve to see something through,” he said.

“And thanks to the developers for making us think about not just what we’re against, but what we’re for.”

But he cautioned that while Spring Creek had been saved from developers, work still needed to be done to save its ecology.

Australian ecosystem expert Dr David Lindenmayer spoke about his latest book “Forest Wars” and many of the myths perpetuated by the native forest logging industry. Photo: FERNE MILLEN

 

On Saturday, Mr Stockton presented SCEG’s ambitious plan to continue working to restore the valley in partnership with its landholders and to work towards a community purchase of the land.

“What we’re planning is, through a trust fund, to enable people to make a $200, let’s say, donation that is fully tax deductable, and instead of it going offshore or somewhere else in Australia, it will be going back into our own backyard.

“The business case is, there’s 12,000 ratepayers in the 3228 postcode and if you multiply that by $200 per ratepayer, it comes to $2.4 million. It puts us well on the path to actually achieving that goal.”

Photo: FERNE MILLEN

 

He encouraged anyone within the local community with expertise across areas that might assist the group’s goals to acquire the land, including commerce, law and communications, to get in touch.

“The important thing is we don’t have to buyback all of it. We just have to insert ourselves into the valley.

“Through the power of community, we can be the ones that decide the future and not the developers and not politicians.

“This won’t be something that SCEG achieves by itself. It will be a community effort.”

Guest speaker, renowned Australian ecosystem expert Dr David Lindenmayer, also gave a talk at the event about his recently released book “Forest Wars”, which details several key myths about the native forest logging industry, followed by a Q&A.

Businessman, philanthropist and conservationist Jim Phillipson also spoke at the event about BioDiversity Legacy, an organisation seeking to expand the community conservation movement and assist in the return of property to community ownership. Photo: FERNE MILLEN

 

Dr Lindenmayer, who has spent time viewing Spring Creek valley, said he was excited about the vision to recreate the farmscape.

“I know from the work we have done with farmers right across Victoria to south-east Queensland what happens when farmers engage with this notion of biodiversity on private land,” he said.

“Fifty-five per cent of Australia is agricultural land and large numbers of ecosystems are now on private land, so the connection between community, farms, biodiversity and new economies is actually critical to long-term biodiversity in Australia.”

For more information, visit sceg.org.au



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