The conservation and appropriate management of the local natural environment and responding to Climate Change are two key priority areas under Council’s Strategic Community Plan (see Objectives 3.1 and 3.2) and draft City of Bunbury Local Planning Strategy (see Intentions 5A and 10A).
The conservation and appropriate management of the local natural environment is important given the wide ranging benefits that it provides, including:
· Environmental benefits – supports ecosystem services, which in turn provide critical requirements for humans such as clean air and water.
· Social benefits – contributes to sense of place and amenity and provides for recreation, education, research and spiritual pursuits.
· Economic benefits – supports important industries such as forestry, agriculture and tourism and buffers sensitive land uses.
In short, the quality of lifestyle offered to residents, the attractiveness of the City to visitors, investors and immigrants and the long term sustainability of the community are all ultimately underpinned by the conservation and appropriate management of the local natural environment.
Climate Change has the potential to pose a significant threat to the City of Bunbury and the resilience of the local community in the future, both directly through factors such as reduced rainfall and increased temperatures and indirectly through its influence on traditional extreme events such as fire. Responding to Climate Change requires efforts to both mitigate carbon emissions in order to avoid the worst effects but also adaptation to future changes, which are already ‘locked in’ due to historical emissions.
The City of Bunbury undertakes a range of initiatives in pursuit of these key priorities, which are focussed into four strategies:
1. on-ground management of Council land, through initiatives including
· reserve management planning
· bushland management
· the joint on-ground works project with the South West Catchments Council
· coordination of the Community Conservation Network
· management of environmental pests
· supporting the State Government in establishing proposed regional parks in the local area
2. fostering positive behaviour change, through initiatives including
· promotion of local bushland reserves and native flora and fauna
· supporting Council’s Community Environmental Reference Group
· coordination of the Habitat Bunbury Program
3. minimising the adverse environmental impacts of land use and development, through initiatives including
· management of Council’s contaminated sites
· environmental approvals
· incorporating environmental considerations into local land use planning and development processes
4. responding to Climate Change, through initiatives including
· participation in the Peron Naturaliste Partnership
However, neither conserving and managing the local natural environment or responding to Climate Change are tasks that the City of Bunbury can undertake alone given the practical limitations to its jurisdiction and resources. Rather, it is incumbent upon all in the broader community to play their part in achieving these tasks for the benefit of both current and future generations.