2.3 COMMUNITY EDUCATION AND INVOLVEMENT
Herring Island's strategic location makes it an ideal focus for interpretation concerning the lower Yarra's indigenous flora and fauna, history and cultural values. Rehabilitation of Herring Island provides urban dwellers with an appreciation of land degradation problems, and an excellent opportunity for 'hands on' experience in revegetation.
As outlined in Section 1.1, rehabilitation of Herring Island will involve an extensive revegetation program. During this period, recreational use of Herring Island will be limited to allow establishment of newly-planted indigenous species. The existing small-scale salinity, erosion, weed and dieback problems on Herring Island provide city dwellers with examples of land degradation problems affecting vast areas of rural Australia. Occasional open days during Herring Island's rehabilitation phase could provide interpretation concerning these issues. The revegetation program planned for Herring Island also offers scope for community education and involvement. Interest in assisting the rehabilitation process. by weed removal and planting with indigenous species has already been demonstrated by a number of individuals and groups such as the Friends of Herring Island and the Brighton Street Primary School. This form of local action provides an opportunity for people to become directly involved in improving their physical and social environment. Further community involvement should be encouraged, particularly from local schools, bearing in mind school curriculum and policy requirements.
Interpretation is a broad term covering a variety of means used to convey information about a park or reserve to the public. The objective of an interpretation program is to assist visitors to develop a greater awareness, appreciation and understanding of Herring Island. As such, interpretation can be used as a management tool, encouraging thoughtful use and active protection of Herring Island by visitors. This will be done through open days and interpretation programs as well as the provision of interpretation material. Small and environmentally fragile reserves such as Herring Island rely heavily on appropriate visitor education to protect natural values.
Possible themes for interpretation include the area's history (from Aboriginal settlements to the present), indigenous flora and fauna, land degradation and rehabilitation, as well as management concerns such as fire, rubbish etc. Interpretive material should be developed in a regional rather than purely local context, given the potentially wide 'catchment' of visitors, and the importance of the issues mentioned above to the community at large. It is important that interpretation (including signage) caters for major languages spoken by the local community.
Self-guided activities such as walking tracks plus appropriate signage/pamphlet material will be provided to inform and educate visitors about Herring Island's history, environment and restoration. Primary school students will be targeted as much as possible through these programs.
To raise public awareness of urban and rural conservation issues, including flora and fauna preservation and land degradation problems.
To encourage community participation in the rehabilitation of Herring Island.
To provide general information for visitors about the facilities, use and features available on Herring Island.
Liaise with local school and community groups, particularly Friends of Herring Island, to inform them about Herring Island's natural and cultural values, and to involve them in planting and other activities.
Provide adequate supervision of community planting and weeding activities to ensure that these are an enjoyable and worthwhile educational experience, and survival of plantings is maximised.
Develop a Herring Island Information Kit for schools and community groups participating in the above activities. Consult with the Department of Conservation and Environment, Information and Education Services Branch and staff from local schools.
Develop an interpretation program for Herring Island in conjunction with the Department of Conservation and Environment Melbourne Regional staff and interested schools.
Use the refurbished Scout Association dormitory building as a focus for interpretation.
Provide a small information shelter near the access point opposite the Alexandra Avenue jetty.
Develop a self-guided discovery walk to introduce visitors to Herring Island's natural and cultural values.
Provide an information sheet on Herring Island and distribute through the Department of Conservation and Environment and Richmond and Prahran Council offices.
Erect signs to provide general information about Herring Island at mainland access points (Williams Road and the proposed landing near the BOW Depot).