Site tour leads the conservation conversation
The conservation conversation was front and centre as members and experts from ACT environmental groups visited CSIRO’s Ginninderra Property on 6 June.
The question of: “How can we conserve and restore important environmental features within and beyond the boundaries of a proposed future urban development?” was top of mind as the group visited nine key sites across the property.
CSIRO researchers and expert consultants explained the findings of ecological surveys and their interpretation of key environmental features on the site, while also seeking initial advice and ideas from participants who included members from the Conservation Council ACT Region and its Biodiversity Working Group, Friends of Grasslands and the Ginninderra Catchment Group.
Throughout the tour, participants studied maps of the Ginninderra property showing CSIRO’s initial assessment of developable land (360.8 ha or 51% of the site), potential developable areas under review (129.4 ha, 18%), areas primarily protected by current legislation (130.9 ha, 19%) as well as additional areas CSIRO has set aside to protect conservation and heritage values (80.5 ha, 12%).
Some of the key features for mandatory protection are:
- high value Box Gum Grassy Woodlands and Derived Native Grasslands on the north of the site
- areas of Derived Native Grasslands where studies have recorded the presence of Golden Sun Moth and Striped Legless Lizard
- a Box Gum Grassy Woodland and Scribbly Gum Woodland area surrounding a nesting site of the Little Eagle
- an area of Box Gum Grassy Woodland adjacent to Owen Dixon Drive
- regulated trees and cultural heritage features
Other areas or features earmarked by CSIRO for protection include:
- the corridor (riparian zone) along Halls Creek and drainage lines
- areas of Scribbly Gum Woodland and Box Gum Grassy Woodlands that contribute important environmental values but are not technically protected under legislation
- important buffer zones and areas that add habitat and wildlife connectivity to protected areas, both on the site and in adjacent areas
Some important questions raised on the site visit included the need to define the boundaries for conservation areas and clarify the buffer and transition zones between areas under development and those under conservation. Road access within and to the site will also be an important factor in realising conservation goals.
Establishing sound principles for conservation and development from the outset was seen to be an essential ingredient for success.
So, coming back to the question: “How can such conservation and even restoration be successful in close proximity to an urban development?’” Based on early advice from conservation experts – it won’t happen by accident – but rather through diligent assessments, and applying clear principles and careful planning and implementation.
CSIRO is keen to do exactly that and to develop principles and plans with experts and the broader community through a participatory planning process.
The next steps are to further develop these conservation principles with the same groups through a workshop in late June and to follow that up with some broader community engagement in July.
The environmental principles and plans will then form part of the briefs for the eventual joint venture development partners selected by CSIRO.
CSIRO launches tender for partner to deliver land development in Belconnen
Published on 9 May in the Canberra Times. Written by Natasha Boddy.
The CSIRO has begun the hunt for a partner to deliver a major redevelopment of its massive Ginninderra Field Station to make way for a new urban area on Canberra’s northern outskirts.
On Monday, the research organisation will begin advertising a tender calling for expressions of interest for a joint development partner.
The tender comes only days after the federal government gave the green light to a major shake-up in planning for the ACT, with the first comprehensive review of the National Capital Plan allowing CSIRO to sell off its 701-hectare Ginninderra Field Station and zoning it as urban.
Established in 1960, the field station is on the ACT-NSW border, framed by the Barton Highway, William Slim Drive, Owen Dixon Drive and Kuringa Drive.
According to tender documents, CSIRO currently uses a third of the land.
“This underutilisation of the land is inefficient for CSIRO and the community and greater benefits could be achieved through alternative use of this site,” the documents say.
“CSIRO wishes to partner with a suitable respondent for the purposes of establishing a new suburb(s) compromising residential, commercial, retail and community infrastructure and services.”
The expression of interest closes on May 19, which is expected to enable CSIRO to shortlist potential development partners.
Redevelopment could be underway within two to three years.
The planning changes, announced last week and reported first in Fairfax Media, will also allow residential development in Tuggeranong, west of the Murrumbidgee River, although it will be up to the ACT government to decide when the suburbs go ahead.
The parliamentary triangle’s East and West Blocks will be opened up for use as hotels, offices, restaurants, cafes or retail spaces and outdated federal government office buildings at Anzac Park East and West redeveloped.