Bringing biodiversity back to the Yarra

In 2010, the City of Stonnington began one of the biggest regeneration projects in the Yarra River’s recent history, with the next phase of work about to start.

The Yarra River is one of Melbourne’s most valued and iconic assets, however, due to its urban location, its water quality and structure has suffered over time.

The good news is, Stonnington’s Yarra River Biodiversity Project is already making a difference, removing pollutants from stormwater that makes its way into the river and through large-scale revegetation in order to stabilise banks and attract wildlife.

The Project is also making Melbourne’s landmark river a place the community can really enjoy, with new and improved recreational and educational features.

Stage one of the project was completed in early 2012, including work at both ends of the three-kilometre stretch of the Yarra that falls within the City of Stonnington’s boundaries (from Grange Road to Punt Road). This included:

  • an ephemeral wetland system and gross pollutant trap to treat stormwater run-off from a nearby catchment. The wetland removes sediment and filters pollutants from stormwater, including nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen
  • revegetation to help treat stormwater and improve natural habitats. More than 35,000 plants of 73 Indigenous species were planted. A further 15,000 plants were planted along the banks at the western boundary at Punt Road
  • an upgraded, three-metre wide bicycle path with solar bike path markers. This is separate to the new pedestrian boardwalk, which prevents vegetation and animal habitats from being trampled
  • viewing platforms, park seats and interpretive signs identifying the native species and surrounding landmarks.
  • Starting in May this year, stage two of the project concentrates on the middle section of the River near the well-known Kanteen Café, opposite Herring Island. This stage is due for completion early in 2014.

Following community consultation on design elements, the works will include:

  • revegetation of the riverbanks with Indigenous grasses, shrubs and trees to encourage native birds and local wildlife to the area
  • relocation and widening of a separated bike path and an upgrade to the river edge pedestrian walkway
  • a bio-retention water treatment system to capture stormwater run-off from the surrounding hard surfaces and to remove litter, sediments and other pollutants. This will be a series of ponds with aquatic vegetation that will treat and improve the water quality of the stormwater prior to it entering the Yarra River
  • traffic management improvements to improve pedestrian safety with three new pedestrian crossings and traffic calming devices.

Stage two works are supported by the Department of Sustainability and Environment, through the ‘2 Million Trees’ Grants Program and the Department of Primary Industries through the ‘Improving Recreational Fishing Infrastructure and Access’ Grant Program.

The City of Stonnington Council’s investment in the Project, which is to be delivered over seven stages, is already up to $1.9 million and the total investment is estimated at $9.8 million.