RESIDENTS of the recently named Koonya Grassy Bowl area in Blairgowrie want closer supervision of volunteers in environmental programs, after vegetation was mistakenly ripped out in front of homes.
The work was carried out by volunteer members of the Blairgowrie Friends of Mornington Peninsula National Park group under a grants program to remove invasive weeds such polygala in the Koonya Grassy Bowl and restore native vegetation along Koonya beach (Helping at the grassy bowl, The News 14/11/23).
Despite a spokesperson from Parks Victoria last week stating the work took place on public land to “protect and enhance the natural values” of the national park, vegetation was removed from council land, outside of the target area.
The News believes there has been ongoing confusion about boundaries of land in the area controlled by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and Parks Victoria.
A spokesperson for the friends group said the volunteers had followed Parks Victoria policy, although it is unclear whether Parks provided supervision on the day vegetation was cleared.
Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has called for the area to be replanted.
Resident Sally Williams said she had spoken to the volunteers twice about not removing vegetation from the Baker Avenue side of the walking track and in front of private properties, but says she was disregarded.
“The vegetation was important for residents, it’s removal has made the area unsightly and the resulting lack of privacy means the street is now wide open from the walking track,” she said.
“Erosion has already begun and the danger to motorists and indeed people on an undefined road edging is unsafe.”
Williams said she understood that volunteers did a lot of good work in caring for the environment, but that the Koonya Grassy Bowl incident showed there was a need for better supervision and planning.
She said replanting was not much consolation for residents, as that wouldn’t happen until next year, and would take years to replace what was lost.
The mayor Cr Simon Brooks confirmed that a Parks Victoria friends group had mistakenly weeded a section of shire-managed roadside in Blairgowrie.
The group carrying out weed control in the adjoining national park had worked up to the roadside, believing it to be the park boundary.
“We have been out to meet with residents who have expressed concern about the removal of vegetation and will ask the friends group to plant some indigenous plants in the spaces created by the weed control work,” Brooks said. “Countless friends group volunteers across the peninsula work hard to take care of our environment. We really appreciate their dedication.”