Project update

What is proposed?

Council is exploring options to establish a Native Vegetation Offset Site at Witternberg Bushland Reserve.

An 'offset site' compensates for the loss of biodiversity caused when native vegetation is removed from other sites. It helps balance out the environmental impact of activities like building infrastructure for example a new path, building or recreation area.

While Council always aims to minimise native vegetation loss, and mitigates it with replanting and habitat logs, we are required to purchase "offset credits" when vegetation is removed, Normally, Council buys credits from other municipalities that have registered offset sites. Instead, we are now proposing to create our own offset site, to maintain and enhance biodiversity within Frankston City.

We're asking whether you want Witternberg Bushland Reserve to become a Native Vegetation Offset Site, and if so, which path option you prefer.

What would this mean for public access to the Reserve?

If Witternberg Bushland Reserve is established as a Native Vegetation Offset Site, you will still be able to visit, enjoy and walk from the Reserve's playground through to Robinsons Park.

However, please note the following:

  • You would be restricted to designated tracks into the bushland (3 options for paths are presented in pink for your feedback below).
  • Some existing tracks would be closed off, and the remaining access tracks would be fenced (see example of fencing below).
  • Some existing access points would be closed off (see red crosses in below images)
  • All bushland areas would be out of bounds to the public and dogs (currently dogs need to be on leash within the Reserve).

If Council proceeds with this proposal, the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) would need to approve the site and an Offset Management Plan. Following this, installation of fencing would likely commence in the 2023 – 2024 financial year.

Why Witternberg Bushland Reserve?

Council conducted a detailed review of all local natural reserves to find possible offset sites.

The review identified that out of all the Council-owned natural reserves, Witternberg Reserve is the only one to satisfy the State Government rules to become an offset site.

Witternberg is one of our largest reserves supporting an important stand of remnant indigenous forest and woodland. It is notable for the following:

  • ​Large old-growth trees

    Large Silverleaf Stringybarks and Narrow-leaf Peppermint provide nesting hollows for native fauna including possums, gliders, microbats and birds

  • Flowering plants

    In spring a diversity of native plants, including orchids, lilies and grasses are in flower

  • Native animal refuge

    The Reserve provides a critical habitat refuge and ‘stepping stone’ for mobile animals such as koalas, wallabies and the endangered powerful owl

  • Small carnivorous marsupials

    The regionally significant Agile Antechinus (a small carnivorous marsupial) has also been recorded in the Reserve

What type of fencing?

If the offset scheme proposal goes ahead, fencing would be:

  • ‘Wildlife friendly’ farm style fencing with gaps that allow native animals to move through or under a fence.
  • Designed to prevent or discourage walkers and dogs from accessing the bushland and be communicated on informative signage.
  • Designed to enable residents to enjoy the benefits of the Reserve and walk their dog on leash through to Robinson’s Park and back.
  • Permanent, as the management commitment will also be permanent.
  • An ‘air-lock’ gate would provide a double gate entry point designed to control access to sensitive areas.

If Council proceeds with the proposal fencing is likely to commence in the 23/24 financial year.

Note that fencing may need to be upgraded to improve protection for the bushland in the future.

How would Council maintain the Reserve as a Native Vegetation Offset Site?

Creating an offset site at Witternberg Bushland Reserve would result in additional funding being directed to the Reserve for intensive weed control and other management to enhance and protect the woodland habitat permanently.

This funding would flow to the reserve whenever Council was required to ‘offset’ removal of native vegetation for its infrastructure projects. Council would enter into a formal agreement with the Victorian Government to facilitate this process. Currently Council has to purchase offsets outside the municipality as there are currently no registered offset sites in Frankston City.

To achieve this Council must commit to manage the reserve according to a detailed Management Plan approved by the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA). The most important task will be to reduce the large number of weeds currently in the Reserve to improve native plant diversity and animal habitat.

How can you help guide our decision?

  • Online survey

    Share your feedback on whether the Reserve should be used as an offset site, and if so, which of the 3 access path options you prefer.

    We understand there are pros/cons either way, and want to understand what is most important to you.

    Survey closed 
  • Community pop ups

    Chat with us at one of our community pop ups, and get a coffee voucher for Roundabout Cafe (while stocks last)!

    • Saturday 5 August - 11am - 1pm

    Witternberg Reserve Playground.

    • Thursday 17 August - 10am - 12.30pm

    Roundabout Cafe, 1/19 Shaxton Cir.