Bellarine rail trail




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BELLARINE RAIL TRAIL
- Vegetation Management Plan -

Prepared for City of Greater Geelong
May 2005


Western

Ecological

Consultants

CONTENTS

Introduction 1

Previous Studies and Project Scope 2

Issues relating to current and future management 3



Management Coordination 3

Vegetation Management Zones 4

Revegetation activities 5

Biodiversity Conservation and Preservation 6

Vegetation Buffers and Links 6

Access 6

Interpretation/Signage 7

Trail Usage 7

Resources 8

Pest Animal Control 8

Fire Management 9

Weed Control 10

Contractors 10
Recommended actions for future management 11

Management Coordination 12

Designation of Vegetation Management Zones 13

Revegetation 13

Biodiversity Conservation and Preservation 15

Vegetation Buffers and Links 16

Access 16

Interpretation/Signage 16

Trail Usage 16

Resources 16

Pest Animal Control 17

Fire Management 17

Weed Control 17

Contractors 17
APPENDICES

Table 1. Previous reports relevant to the Bellarine Rail Trail

Table 2. Members of the Bellarine Rail Trail Advisory Committee

Table 3. Roles of the principle entities with interests in the Bellarine Rail Trail

Table 4. Indigenous plant species suitable for planting in each geomorphic zone

Table 5. High treat weeds and control treatments

Table 6. Work Costings
Diagram 1. Specifications governing vegetation management
Map. 1. Bellarine Rail Trail showing geomorphic units

Map 2. Management Zones

Maps 3-77 Aerial sections of the Bellarine Rail Trail

Maps 78 & 79. Sectional Map Layouts



Introduction

The Bellarine Rail Trail is located on a Crown Land rail easement that extends from Newcomb to Queenscliff, via Drysdale. It is approximately 32.5km in length and was officially proclaimed in 1995.


With the exception of a few sites between Drysdale and Curlewis, most of the rail-lines have been removed from the rail reserve between Newcomb and Drysdale. The rail-line from Drysdale to Queenscliff has been retained and is presently managed by the Geelong Steam Preservation Society as a tourist train operation. City of Greater Geelong, through the Bellarine Rail Trail Advisory Committee*, is the manager of the Rail Trail along the entire length.
As a general rule, public reserves such as roadsides and railway easements have been less impacted by direct land clearance typical of the private lands they commonly intersect. They may support remnants of the original vegetation, and by virtue of their public land status often become the focus of community interest whether for conservation or recreational purposes, or a combination of both. The Bellarine Rail Trail is no exception with community interest being attached to its value as an educational, natural and passive recreation asset linking rural and urban nodes across the length of the peninsula.
Works to enhance its value as a community asset has principally centred on infrastructure improvements (signage, fencing & track formation), weed control and revegetation. In some cases these improvements have been consistent with a broad documented strategy, while others have tended to be undertaken on a more opportunistic or ad-hoc basis.
The intention of this plan is to (i) provide objectives and that will guide vegetation management of the Bellarine Rail Trail into the future and to (ii) provide a works budget (Appendix – table 6) that will assist City of Greater Geelong and community groups in coordinating and undertaking on-ground works.
In doing so, it is worth defining a relatively simple set of overarching principles that should guide how vegetation management should proceed. It could be reasonably argued that the Rail Trail was established with an intention to provide a passive recreational experience for users – and one that is mostly centered on enjoyment of the open air, particularly where it meanders through the rural countryside. To this extent, the plan advocates that vegetation management should attempt to meet a combination of broad (and overlapping) objectives, namely;


  • the conservation and preservation of remnant vegetation




  • a continuation of revegetation initiatives aimed at screening the user from higher density urban development that fringes the Trail




  • the integration of revegetation initiatives and remnant vegetation protection measures in degraded or modified areas




  • the promotion of a vegetation cover that reflects the indigenous vegetation of the peninsula (whether through protection of existing remnants or revegetation)




  • the retention of visual breaks (especially through excluding revegetation or limiting it to appropriate species) to promote the local landscape character.


Previous Studies & Project Scope

The Bellarine Rail Trail has been subject to a number of vegetation studies since 1988. Most of these have focused on identifying areas that support remnant vegetation, and describing the extent of its cover and quality. They have also included studies that have identified areas for rehabilitation through replanting and weed removal. These studies, and the respective areas to which they refer, are summarized in Appendix 1.


Of some concern is the fact that weed invasions have continued to proliferate, particularly in areas that support a good cover of the original vegetation. In a number of cases, significant native species that were identified by previous studies have now been lost or reduced in numbers.
While there is significant variability in the presence and quality of the vegetation over the length of the Rail Trail, all attempts have been made in this plan to provide a document that is useful to both managers and those associated with on-ground works (i.e. Council crews, organisations and community groups). However, in some cases there may be a need to undertake more detailed site inspections to determine the most appropriate way in which on-ground initiatives may be achieved.
Further, given that vegetation rehabilitation and protection has implications on other areas of management, the plan also includes general recommendations relating to fire prevention and natural asset interpretation.


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