AN ISLAND HAVEN
Herring Island is a small haven of bushland within the heavily developed reaches of the lower Yarra River. This 2.8ha Crown land reserve is located in Richmond, only 4km from the heart of Melbourne. Although this landscape has been greatly modified by engineering works and other human activities, Herring Island is an important refuge for some of the inner suburbs' remnant indigenous flora and fauna. Herring Island forms a focal link in the linear parkland proposed for the lower reaches of the Yarra River (MPE, 1986).
Herring Island's proximity to Melbourne's Central Business District and the fact that it is the only substantial island in the Yarra River contribute to the special character of the reserve. Herring Island is. an important natural and recreational asset, not only to the surrounding densely-populated and highly-developed suburban areas, but to Melbourne as a whole. Herring Island provides city-dwellers with opportunities for passive recreation and outdoor educational experiences in a 'bush' setting. Apart from the past involvement of the Victorian Scouts Association on Herring Island (1951-1970), and more recent open days and cultural events held there, Herring Island has received little use by the general community.
Responsibility for Herring Island's management lies with the Herring Island Committee of Management. This Committee was appointed in 1985 by the Minister of Conservation, Forests and Lands to consider the present and future management, regulation and use of Herring Island. Soon after its appointment, the Committee of Management commissioned the Board of Works to prepare a plan for the future management of Herring Island. The resultant Concept Plan (BOW, 1987) formed the basis for this Management Plan for Herring Island.
While many people have recognised that Herring Island is a unique natural and recreational asset in the inner suburbs, Herring Island suffers continuing land degradation through the combined effects of salting and weed invasion. This Management Plan addresses these issues, outlining management aims and actions which will restore Herring Island's flora and fauna populations, and develop Herring Island's recreational potential within this natural context.
The natural and landscape values of Herring Island will be rehabilitated through a weed removal and revegetation program using species indigenous to the Lower Yarra. This will give visitors a taste of Melbourne's landscape prior to European settlement, and provide habitat for Herring Island's diverse bird population. Once rehabilitated in this way, Herring Island may eventually sustain a wider range of fauna. During the rehabilitation phase, community and particularly school involvement will be encouraged through such activities as tree planting and open days.
The indigenous flora and fauna of Herring Island will play a prominent part in planned interpretation programs. The scout building will be refurbished to provide a centre for such activities. Once revegetation plantings are sufficiently established, recreational use will be encouraged by provision of better access facilities, especially from the Richmond bank of the Yarra River. Herring Island provides a range of recreational activities consistent with the aims of conserving the local flora and fauna. Among these are nature study, walking, birdwatching, canoeing and kayaking, plus informal picnicking. Bush settings such as Herring Island also offer opportunities for unstructured, imaginative 'adventure play', a recreational experience important to children, but frequently lacking in suburban reserves.