Posted on 21/11/2021 by Philip Island Nature Parks

Nature Parks Board update – October 2021

The Phillip Island Nature Parks Board met on Thursday 28th October to discuss a range of issues, topics and opportunities, and continue its ongoing review of policies, compliance responsibilities and strategic planning as set out under its governance framework. The highlights of this meeting are outlined below.

 

Summerland Peninsula Masterplan

The Board discussed the Summerland Peninsula Masterplan which was developed in 2012, and the remaining projects and requirements to complete. The Summerland Trails development and the Penguin Parade boardwalks and viewing stands redevelopment are the current projects that we are continuing to focus on. The Nature Parks team are completing Cultural Heritage assessments, detailed design, vegetation assessments and wildlife planning to ensure these projects are shovel ready when any funding opportunities become available.

The Board reaffirmed its commitment to maintain vehicle access and if it was successful in progressing the Summerland Trails Masterplan.

 

Forrest Caves Beach Access Stairs project

The Board received an update on the damage to Forrest Caves stairs from storm and erosion events over a number of years. Works have been undertaken to stabilize the structure in the short term and further work is required to provide longer term structural support. The Board endorsed the works to be completed as soon as it is safe to do so and noted the significant work required to protect wildlife, cultural assets, and vegetation throughout the project. The works contract is due to be awarded shortly, and work is estimated to start after the Shearwater departure in May 2022. The Nature Parks will provide further information to the community regarding the project and access interruptions closer to this time.

 

Animal Ethics Committee

This important committee serves to ensure that animal research conducted by the Nature Parks has the highest regard for animal welfare, is ethical and is compliant with legislative standards. The Board acknowledged the contribution of Clare Davis who has volunteered her time to this committee for over the last 25 years and this year is stepping down from the committee. The Board endorsed the appointment of Jacqueline Walsh to replace Clare on the committee. Jacqui is very well qualified to fill this position through her work with Wildlife Victoria and East Gippsland Wildlife Rescue and Protection. She has lived all her life in Gippsland, caring for seabirds including penguins and shearwaters, and holds, a Certificate III in Animal Studies, and a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing.

 

COVID Safe:

The Board discussed the updated Nature Parks COVID Safe Plan and acknowledged the ongoing work undertaken to ensure that the Nature Parks team members and visiting community are kept safe, and that the Nature Parks remain compliant with the latest requirements. The Board was delighted to welcome back visitors and community members residing in the Melbourne Metro region, with 3 of our attractions recommencing 7-day operations with this milestone and capacity at the Penguin Parade relaxing a little. The Vaccinated Economy Trial held at Churchill Island also concluded and the Board noted the positive feedback from the Nature Parks team involved in the trial.

Of course, our well-planned reopening did not go as we all had hoped, with the storm impacting the Nobbies, Churchill Island and the Koala Conservation Reserve over the long weekend. Thankfully the Penguin Parade opened as planned and was enjoyed by many visitors with sell out nights (albeit to a smaller capacity crowd) experienced on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The Board thanked all staff who assisted in the site clean-up process.

 

Professional Development

Board members Jane Foley & Danielle Auldist shared their learnings from their attendance at the Government Institute, National Public Sector Governance Forum, delving into the learnings application and relevance to the Nature Parks.

 

Threatened Species Report

The Board discussed the progress made on the Threatened Species Plan and including the work the Nature Parks contribute to the protection of Victoria’s population of endangered Eastern barred bandicoots, which have changed in status from ‘Extinct in the wild’ to ‘Endangered’. Researchers at Phillip Island Nature Parks estimate that the population of 67 bandicoots released on the Island in 2017 has grown to about 300 animals.

 

Strategic Risk Review

The Board considers one or two strategic risks at each scheduled meeting, and in October the Board considered the risks to the Nature Parks’ business from external events on infrastructure and business site operations. It was a timely discussion with the next day’s extreme weather conditions putting these business continuity plans to the test.

 

 

Kevin Love Chair

Phillip Island Nature Parks