Published: 2 May 2022
Victoria’s largest conservation sanctuary takes shape video transcript
The Prom Sanctuary project is about building a fence that stops pests and predators moving from adjacent South Gippsland into this 50,000 hectare National Park.
So it's setting up a nature refuge, a climate refuge on the very southern tip of Australia. It's not just about a fence, it's the whole total program so the fence will become the barrier to the pests and then within the park we're ramping up control of those pests control of those weeds, habitat restoration, threatened species support and also bringing some really special species that are struggling elsewhere into this safe haven.
[Vision: 'Eastern Bristlebird - Dasyiornis brachypterus']
Wilsons Prom is unique in that it's sitting in the cool waters of Bass Strait and that buffers it against the temperature extremes of climate change and makes it a really good place to set up a climate refuge a safe haven at scale for our most threatened and most valued species.
[Vision: 'Australian Fur Seal - Arctocephalus pusillus' swimming in the Bass Strait]
[Vision: 'Crescent Honeyeater - Phylidonyris pyrrhopterus' perched on a tree]
[Vision: 'Eastern Grey Kangaroo - Macropus giganteus' sitting in a field]
[Vision: 'Superb Fairy-wren - Malurus cyaneus' perched on a tree]
[Vision: 'Wombat - Vombatus ursinus' eating grass]
[Vision: 'Southern Brown Bandicoot - Isoodon obesulu's in a field]
-&Dr Mark Norman Chief Conservation Scientist; Parks Victoria
[Parks Victoria | Conservation and Science | Discover more at parks.vic.gov.au]
[Victoria State Government / Delivering for Victoria. Authorised by the Victorian Government, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne]
Anyone who’s visited Wilsons Prom will tell you there's something truly magical about the National Park.
Located on a peninsula at the most southern point of the Australian mainland and stretching across the lands of the Gunaikurnai, Bunurong, and Boon Wurrung Traditional Owners, the park is one of Victoria’s best loved.
It’s home to a rich variety of native plants and animals. It offers remote and spectacular bush trails, pristine beaches, and one of the best marine national parks in the country. It also has a number of sites of cultural significance and offers adventure for all ages.
But even better things are on the horizon.
The Wilsons Prom Revitalisation Project will turn the park into Victoria's largest conservation sanctuary.
The project will create a 10km fence to keep invasive plants and animals out of the 50,000-hectare park.
Project works will also improve Wilsons Prom for visitors. New facilities and accommodation will be built. A new trail will connect Tidal River to Mount Oberon. Parking, traffic flow, and signage will also be improved.
As part of the Victorian Government’s Visitor Economy Recovery and Reform Plan the government is contributing $23 million to the project, which will be delivered by Parks Victoria. It will protect the Prom's wildlife and create a more sustainable tourism experience.
Protecting our natural treasures
For Dr Mark Norman, Chief Conservation Scientist at Parks Victoria, the Prom is a natural treasure that must be protected.
"It has these amazing ecosystems, from the top of mountains to the 90-metre-deep waters off the lighthouse," he explained.
“It ranges from sandy beaches, mangroves and salt marshes to areas of grass tree plains, rich forests and diverse heath plant species.
“There are many animals living amongst these habitats,” he added.
Unfortunately, the area is under threat.
Invasive animals like deer, feral cats, and foxes are disastrous for native wildlife. Pest plants like Coastal Tea Tree and White Kunzea are destroying habitats. The impacts of climate change are increasing bushfire risk and extreme weather events.
Dr Norman and his team are grateful that the Prom has a natural advantage to help manage invasive species. The peninsula is only connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land, known as the Yanakie Isthmus, where they will build their predator-proof fence.
“We’re trying to prevent the constant reintroduction of invasive species."
"It’s pointless to eradicate the ones in the park and then let the next lot walk in,” Dr Norman explained.
For Dr Norman, this project is an opportunity to to give nature the best chance of thriving.
"We are talking about setting something up for decades or centuries of protection for our native plants and animals," he said.
Revitalising tourism at the Prom
The Wilsons Prom Revitalisation Project will provide an important boost to this already unforgettable coastal wilderness destination.
A more welcoming experience will be created from improvements to the visitor centre and area around busy Tidal River, including an all-abilities Changing Places block. New and upgraded walks and accommodation options will also help more visitors stay and see more of this special landscape.
The project will also create a more sustainable mindset from the moment visitors first enter the park through the predator-proof exclusion fence.
“Your thinking should change as you pass through this threshold," said Dr Norman.
“You should think about what's in the best interests of nature within this park, and what you can do to join that conversation or program," he said.
“This project will provide a strong reminder to people that this is a place where we really care about health of country.
It's a place where we work to improve the fortunes of our native plants and animals.”
The Wilsons Prom Revitalisation Project is due for completion in 2024.
Parks Victoria is currently asking visitors and the community for their feedback on this project. To join the conversation, visit Engage Victoria.
Photo and video credit: Parks Victoria