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Posted on 03/01/2020 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

Nature Parks Board update – November & December 2019

The Phillip Island Nature Parks Board met in November and December to discuss a range of issues and opportunities, and continue its ongoing review of policies, compliance responsibilities and strategic planning as set out under its governance framework. The highlights of these meetings are outlined below.

Merry Christmas
The Board acknowledged the contributions and thanked Nature Parks’ staff and volunteers for their efforts during a year that saw a range of major projects completed, including the launch of the new Penguin Parade Visitor Centre and the creation of new office spaces for the Nature Parks’ workforce in Cowes and new office spaces and a new works yard at the Koala Reserve.
Board members enjoyed the opportunity to share Christmas afternoon tea with staff and volunteers before the busy holiday season, and wished all of the Nature Parks’ family and community a happy festive season.

The Board discussed visitation across all Nature Parks’ sites, along with visitation trends across Victoria. The Board noted that the Nature Parks had experienced exponential growth over the previous ten years, and were now experiencing a downturn in visitation from the Chinese and domestic markets, which is consistent other attractions across the State. The Penguin Parade had experienced a small decline, while the reduction at the Nature Parks’ other sites was more pronounced. The Board continues to closely monitor visitation and is focussed on achieving the best possible outcome for the Nature Parks and Phillip Island.

Penguin Parade Boardwalk Development
The Board reviewed the progress of the proposed development of the Penguin Parade boardwalks, designed to complement the new Visitor Centre and enhance the visitor experience. The Board acknowledged the comprehensive planning and consultation being undertaken with the Bunurong Land Council and the Nature Parks’ Conservation department to ensure an environmentally and culturally sensitive outcome. The design concept has been approved, with detailed design, staging and funding still being developed and secured.

Visitor Research Strategy
Developing a detailed insight into Nature Parks’ customers and visitors is a vital component in effectively targeting our marketing activities, and satisfying the needs of today’s travellers. The Board endorsed the visitor research project currently being undertaken by the Nature Parks to better understand, and prepare for long term trends.

Animal Ethics Committee annual report
The Animal Ethics Committee is charged with providing oversight of all matters relating to the care and use of animals for scientific research purposes by the Nature Parks. It also provides advice to the Board on research and animal welfare matters. The Board thanked Committee Chair Dr Jenny Hibble for presenting the annual report on the Committee’s activities and the Animal Ethics Committee for giving their time to help strengthen the Nature Parks research programs.

Regulations and Determinations Review
The Board received an update on the review of regulations which provide the framework for the Nature Parks’ management and control of Crown land, and are due to sunset in May 2020. The Board noted that some modest changes will be proposed for community feedback within the coming months.

Wildlife Rescue
The Board acknowledged the work currently being undertaken by the Nature Parks’ staff and volunteers to develop a whole of community approach to wildlife rescue on Phillip Island, and enhance the significant wildlife rescue and care services already provided by the Nature Parks. The Board noted that as part of the first stage, volunteer roles had been defined and a callout for volunteers would take place in early January, followed by information sessions in February.

WILD Sand Sculpting
Along with Nature Parks staff and volunteers, and members of the Community Environment Advisory Committee, Board members enjoyed a walk-through of the WILD sand sculpting exhibit, and also met a few of the talented sculptors. The feedback from all who attended was overwhelmingly positive, not only that the sculptures were quite amazing, but that important conservation messaging was woven through the entire exhibit through a kids activity book and interpretive signage.

Phillip Island Wildlife Plan
The Board noted that the Nature Parks is leading a joint initiative in partnership with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Bass Coast Shire Council, the Bunurong Land Council, Landcare, and a representative from the farming community to prepare a wildlife plan which will help engage our community in addressing the challenges of living in a place with abundant wildlife. Particular attention will be paid to agricultural outcomes, and all of the partners look forward to involving the community in early 2020.

Liz Stinson
Phillip Island Nature Parks