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A unique and innovative project between the City of Ballarat and the Australian Koala Foundation - a brochure entitled Your Guide to Living With koalas - has won a Planning Excellence Award from the Planning Institute of Australia.
The brochure won the ‘Improving Planning Processes and Practices' category of the Planning Excellence 2011 Victoria Awards which were held in Melbourne on Friday night.
In their summation the judges said they were ‘...impressed with the unique and innovative nature of the project...which successfully incorporates a practical environmental conservation program for the protection of koalas within the planning system, becoming the first council in Victoria to produce a Koala Plan of Management.'
The City of Ballarat, in a Victorian first, launched the brochure in February this year to help residents maintain and enhance Ballarat's koala population and the habitat it requires.
The ‘Your guide to living with koalas' brochure explains the Koala Overlay and the various things the community can do to help protect koalas and their habitat, as well as encouraging more koalas in their neighbourhood.
It's designed as a tool for residents living in and around the Koala Overlay and is designed to assist residents to understand what it means to live within the Overlay, particularly in terms of removing vegetation, gaining planning approvals, appropriate fencing and protecting koalas from dogs.
City of Ballarat Portfolio Councillor for Growth and Development Ben Taylor said the award winning brochure complemented the City of Ballarat's Koala Plan of Management, which is the first of its type in the state.
"The Koala Plan of Management incorporates an Environmental Significance Overlay, also known as the Koala Overlay, to protect koalas and koala habitats in the municipality. This easy to read educational brochure supports the implementation of the Overlay and aims to assist residents and land holders living in the overlay area", Cr Taylor said.
"Ballarat is fortunate to be home to a large population of koalas, however as our city's human population grows and the city's urban boundary continues to expand, koalas are increasingly under threat".
Brochures were sent to all residents in the Overlay area earlier this year and are also available at the Visitor Information Centre, the Town Hall and The Phoenix or can be downloaded or viewed on Council's website www.ballarat.vic.gov.au
In 2009, in consultation with the Australian Koala Foundation, Council completed a Koala Plan of Management which mapped koala habitat and applied a local control known as the Koala Overlay. This project underwent significant community consultation.
The Koala Overlay applies to areas which have high numbers of koalas including Nerrina, Invermay and Canadian Valley. The Overlay seeks to minimise the impacts of new development on the koala population by guiding and limiting vegetation removal and providing areas for safe movement.
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