What a grand vision by the council of the day back in 2006, at a time where Mandurah was the fastest growing local government in Australia, to put in place a policy that years later would successfully save 150 hectares of local bushland from development.
The Bushland Buyback policy was created as a means to saving precious bushland held in private ownership by buying back that bushland to be retained forever as public reserve. Since then, the council has allocated half a million dollars per year to a reserve fund for the specific purpose of the bushland buyback program.
Since establishing the program, Mandurah has successfully negotiated with developers to buy priority parcels of land, including Marlee Reserve, Gumnut Reserve, Hexham Wetland in Herron and Lakeside Parkway, Herron. While most of the bushland parcels are left untouched, Marlee Reserve, which was basically a dumping ground, has now been established as passive recreation space, incorporating parking, pathways and signage.
With the recent purchase of a large piece of bushland in Mandurah's south, we have now achieved the goal of purchasing 150 hectares of land to be retained as bushland forever, and we shouldn't underestimate the impact that this program has had on our City.
A good example of this is that since 2012, our urban tree canopy across the City of Mandurah has actually increased, despite the rapid growth - something that would never have been achieved without the bushland buyback program in place.
Once a small holiday town, Mandurah's population has exploded from around 30,000 when the program was established, to 90,000 today, and that number is expected to grow to 120,000 by 2036. With this growth brings exciting opportunities for our community as we evolve into a thriving 21st century city. However, a key challenge, and one which was well recognised back in 2006, is catering for a growing population while also trying to maintain the very reason why people move to Mandurah - the natural environment.
With the 150-hectare goal now being achieved, council will continue its commitment to this program both through the continued acquisition of prime bushland in private ownership, but also a new focus on opening up this bushland for the public to enjoy as passive reserve. We will also have an increased focus on managing the bushland better. We are fortunate to have so many dedicated people and groups working and volunteering across Mandurah and beyond, to help understand, conserve and protect our natural environment.
We don't apologise for standing up for our environment. We acknowledge it is one of our greatest assets. It is imperative that we ensure its survival, not just for today's community, but for generations to come.
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