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For VicRoads Roadside Environment Workshop


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Created as reminder of points to be made during workshop, all of which came up in one form or another.

Published in: Environment
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For VicRoads Roadside Environment Workshop

  1. 1. Roadside Environmental Workshop convened by VicRoads Tony Smith Kororoit Institute 19 July 2016
  2. 2. Recent learnings about aboriginal land management and cultivation practices need to be taken into account when assessing environmental values.
  3. 3. Victorian Volcanic Plains grasslands are a deceptively rich and critically endangered ecosystem. The best remnants are in public lands that have never been farmed, mostly beside roads and rail lines and in cemeteries. Efforts to reconstruct them on farmed land have found that they need to get rid of the top layer of fertilised soil where the phosphate encourages exotic rather than indigenous plants. Diverse microclimates around stony rises nurture greater diversity.
  4. 4. The development cycle of nesting hollows is far beyond a human lifespan, let alone a research thesis timeframe. Many species that rely on specific configurations for breeding live so long that even decades without successful reproduction may not be noticed. This makes the retention of a  strong representative supply of older trees in which hollows may form not negotiable.
  5. 5. Roadside scrub is a mixed blessing. Loss of sight lines can have adverse effects. Scrub also provides habitat for many smaller birds, some of whom are as happy in our dreaded blackberries as anything else. As was shown along the beach side of the Great Ocean Road after the Wye River fire, just fencing off scrubby areas and leaving them to their own devices does not produce good outcomes.
  6. 6. When the Great Ocean Road from Lorne to Cumberland River was widened around 1970, gravel was taken from a pit dug into the cliff, compromising the popular track from the camp to the mountain lookout which dominates the skyline. This has never been rectified and continues to deteriorate to the point of being almost unusable. If we want the public to care about the roadside environment it helps to maintain its utility to humans. Pedestrians need safe space. Buses need more stopping places. Human-friendly roadsides facilitate passive surveillance.
  7. 7. The hydrological performance of roads, verges and associated drains is as important to the environment as anything. Even without spills, run off from surfaced roads after a first rain event is notoriously polluted. Litter also gets flushed, or stays there. It is important to divert drains into sedimentation and biological treatment ponds where water quality can be improved before consideration of storage for reuse or discharge into streams including via storm water drains. Wetlands that are intermittent by design are more appropriate than decorative lakes in most places. Ideally we will design for better containment of major spills than was possible after the recent tanker collision and rupture on the Calder at Steele Creek.
  8. 8. It seems we have a road design culture which only sees and imagines the fleeting view from behind a windscreen. Beyond safety and legibility, the passing view through the windscreen is of little import. This culture needs to be rooted out and replaced by one which looks at the road from the perspective of adjacent open space users, from nearby homes, businesses and community activity centres, to people waiting for or alighting public transport.