Healing Water Country Project

Community, Connection and Conservation form the foundation that underpins the Healing Water Country Project.

The concept for the project evolved in early 2021 through conversations between Willum Warrain and the Western Port Biosphere Foundation. This led to a partnership with Willum Warrain to design, plan, implement a project that supports and will maintain the conservation of the local waterway and surrounds, whilst fostering connection with community.

The goal is to restore the creek so that it becomes a functioning habitat corridor, thereby supporting the conservation efforts underway at either end, while also restoring more natural drainage. Additionally, by incorporating community engagement events involving many Willum Warrain members into the project design, we can generate the public momentum to restore and protect their environment.

Funding for the Healing Water Country project was sought from various sources. It was eventually sourced through Esso’s Community Engagement and Partnership Program, which includes provision for community programs located near one of their major facilities, in this case, Long Island Point. The corporate contribution from Esso is consistent with UNESCO’s ambition for Biosphere Reserves to involve all interested stakeholders in planning, management and project delivery.

The Western Port Biosphere Foundation prioritises to work within the internationally recognised UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), including SDG 17: partnerships for the goals. These SDG’s are the foundations upon which we scope, deliver, measure and report on our objectives and outcomes.

Biosphere reserves are ‘learning places for sustainable development’. They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity. They are places that provide local solutions to global challenges.

The Healing Water Country project is situated entirely within the Western Port Biosphere Reserve.

Detailed plans are currently under development, with deep consideration to the underpinned foundations of the project of community, connection and conservation.

 

Stage One complete

 

The Western Port Biosphere Foundation and Willum Warrain have completed the first phase of their Healing Water Country Project, which will create a biolink along the water course between Willum Warrain’s pun pun (wetlands) and the Warrangine.

Powerful owls live in this area, heading east and dispersing towards to Warrigine Creeek (home of wombats, though the wombat has long gone).

This project is reconnecting fragmented bush along the stream, which runs into Warringine Creek and then RAMSAR protected wetlands of Western Port. Community input into the project design involves many Willum Warrain members and supporters, ensuring public engagement and support for on-going restoration and protection of their environment.

With the support of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and their Natural Systems team, Stage One of this 3-year project was recently completed with weed removal and numerous plantings of native vegetation. Onsite at Willum Warrain, works were also completed by Willum Warrain team and volunteers, with woody weeds removed and replaced by hundreds of Indigenous plants, grown by the onsite nursery at Willum Warrain. The Bunurong Environment team also assisting on some of these working days, everyone joining together to further build on the restoration downstream.

In the beginning. Degraded understory, woody and grasses weeds, rubbish.

Consultation and conversations were key to choosing the species for this site. All Indigenous plants, grown onsite from Willum Warrain.

The site is prepped for planting. Removal of woody and grassy weeds, overstory species retained for habitat.

Representatives from Willum Warrain community, Mornington Peninsula Shire Natural Systems team, Esso Australia and Western Port Biosphere Foundation ready to plant.

Planted

Planted

 

 

The completion of Stage One was marked by a meeting of representatives of Willum Warrain, Western Port Biosphere Foundation, Esso/ Exxon Hastings and the Mornington Peninsula Shire, Natural Systems team at the Healing Water Country site behind the gathering place. Uncle Alvin conducted a smoking ceremony, and signage featuring artwork from Willum Warrain artists Sammy Trist and Bree Webster was installed.

This project looks forward to the future stages, with deep consideration to the underpinned foundations of the project of community, connection and conservation. Stay tuned for Stage Two.

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