This section outlines the context in which management objectives for Herring Island's future have been formulated.

Herring Island is a comparatively large reserve within an area of very low public open space allocation per capita (Victorian Government, 1988). It is therefore an important recreational resource within Melbourne's inner suburbs. Protection of open space in areas deficient in parkland is one of the priorities of the Melbourne Open Space Plan (Victorian Government, 1988). This Plan emphasises the need to protect valuable natural and recreational areas from alienation and inappropriate development, and to ensure a range of open space settings for Melbourne's population.

Herring Island's natural character is highly distinctive within its urbanised environment, and offers considerable recreational and educational opportunity, aside from its biological and landscape values. Both the Urban Nature Conservation Program (DCE, 1988) and the Metropolitan Open Space Plan emphasise the preservation of natural areas, and their rehabilitation by such measures as revegetation and control of pest plants and animals. Natural and semi-natural areas such as Herring Island are refuges for remnant indigenous flora and fauna within the generally hostile urban environment. The preservation of natural areas and of linking corridors of indigenous vegetation allow these distinctively local species to survive in cities. The Lower Yarra Concept Plan (Ministry for Planning and Environment, 1986) stresses the importance of linear parkland in terms of recreational, landscape and nature conservation Values, and proposes such a parkland complex along the Yarra River. As community awareness of environmental issues increases, protection of natural areas in urban environments has become a matter of increasing community concern.

Beside this growing concern for the environment, recreational trends indicate an increased interest in unstructured outdoor activities (Victorian Government, 1988). Urban bushland reserves offer relief from the ubiquitous built environment, and opportunities to feel 'at one' with the natural environment through walking birdwatching and other such 'passive' recreational activities. Natural reserves also provide important adventure play areas for children (Jeavons, 1986). Adventure play is particularly important in built-up inner urban areas, where public open space tends to be limited, and is surrounded by busy roads. The island setting of this reserve adds a sense of adventure to the recreational experience offered.

Recent trends in urban park planning favour the retention or creation of bush reserves for the values mentioned above, and also for their low maintenance requirements (Brandenburg, 1981). Indigenous vegetation is particularly cost-effective, with low establishment and maintenance costs compared to traditional parkland, which has high recurrent costs associated with mowing, regular fertilising, pruning and annual bedding displays.

Herring Island offers considerable opportunities for community education and involvement. The scope for interpretation includes conservation issues (indigenous flora and fauna, land rehabilitation and urban nature conservation), and, cultural aspects. Local schools have already shown interest in the site and have helped the Friends of Herring Island with their revegetation efforts.

Being a focal point of the Lower Yarra, and situated close to such popular destinations as Como Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Herring Island also has tourism potential. Herring Island provides an opportunity to see indigenous vegetation and wildlife in a semi-natural setting only a few kilometres from the city centre, and to learn about Melbourne's original Aboriginal culture and flora and fauna through the proposed interpretation facilities.


Management objectives for Herring Island have been formulated in accordance with the type of reservation (Public Purposes) and important Government policies and legislation, as well as local community input.

The primary management objectives for Herring Island are to:

· preserve and protect the natural environment, particularly remnant indigenous flora and fauna

· rehabilitate the natural values of Herring Island through a revegetation program using indigenous species

· enhance the landscape of Herring Island and ensure that surrounding development does not adversely affect the Island's landscape value

· provide access and a range of recreational opportunities in a manner which is consistent with the protection of the natural environment, through appropriate design of facilities

· provide opportunities for community education and involvement concerning Herring Island's natural values and their rehabilitation, and cultural issues

· provide opportunities for Aboriginal culture interpretation and education

· ensure adequate precautions are taken for public safety

· protect Herring Island and its visitors from fire

· control pest plants and animals.

Herring Island forms a natural oasis in the highly-developed inner urban area
(Photograph: Noel Ryan).