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Tim Neville Arboretum


Tim Neville Arboretum Improvements - Thank you for your patience

Work is expected to start in November 2015 on the $1 million rehabilitation works for the Tim Neville Arboretum in Ferntree Gully.

The contract for the works was awarded by Council at its meeting on Tuesday 27 October 2015 and the improvements are expected to be completed in mid 2016, subject to favourable weather conditions.

What sort of works will occur?

The works will include:

  • New viewing decks, seating and other furniture.
  • De-silting, reshaping, stabilisation and relining both top and bottom lakes.
  • Conversion of the top lake into a water treatment wetland to improve public health protection and prevent algal bloom.
  • New wildlife breeding areas for ducks and other fauna.

A full list of works is available online via Council’s meeting report from 27 October 2015.

Why were the lakes drained before works commenced?

The lakes were drained for two major reasons:

  • To allow unwanted material, which has collected in the lakes over many years, to dry so it can be handled effectively.
  • To allow existing wildlife a chance to adjust and relocate where possible (Council has physically relocated turtles and eels).

In order to remove the lakes' silts, EPA regulations require the silts to be dried out as much as possible prior to being trucked offsite for disposal.

The lakes were emptied during Winter (August) to discourage bird breeding activities by reducing the 'desirable' habitat for offspring.

The timing for draining the lakes is consistent with typical breeding patterns of aquatic species and was always planned for the Winter months.

While some bird species began breeding unusually early this year, monitoring of nests and hatchlings has continued.

How are birds, fish and animals being cared for?

Council has taken every measure to ensure that all wildlife species have been considered.

Over the past two years, when planning for these works, Council has monitored and investigated the safe management of these species, including consultation with Wildlife Victoria, Fisheries Department experts, and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) regarding wildlife rescue.

As part of the preparation, Council applied for a wildlife recovery and care permit from DELWP and is currently monitoring and caring for rescued turtles and non-pest fish species, with the intent of returning them to the lakes when works are complete.

Other actions Council has initiated, to ensure wildlife is cared for, include:

  • Any wildlife not able to ‘self-help’ has been progressively assisted and relocated.
  • Native eels are being relocated to other Council wetlands and water bodies.
  • Turtles are being relocated to temporary quarantine set ups so they may be monitored, cared for and returned safely, post works.
  • Bird breeding has been monitored since early August to identify level of breeding activity, number of eggs and hatchlings. Those that have emerged will be flight ready when earth works commence.

Regarding the mobility of ducks, while some offspring may be too young to fly just yet, these birds are expected to fly away and seek an alternate body of water when the construction phase begins.

Many ducks have already relocated to the Boronia Park Retarding Basin and Wetlands system, on the corner of Dorset Road and Boronia Road, Boronia, which was recently completed by Council.

As a result of draining the lakes, the ducks and moorhens have had ample access to small fish and water bugs which are currently concentrated in the remaining water pools and shallow mud areas.

Until the natural food supply runs short, the ducks are unlikely to relocate.

Please do not feed the ducks

To encourage the birds to relocate, the food supply needs to run low and/or the site needs to experience further disruption, then the birds will simply fly away, as they will no longer be comfortable at the Arboretum.

During this time, Council asks that you ensure your dogs are on leads when in the Arboretum or contained; cats are housed from dusk to dawn and please resist feeding the birds.

Staying safe while works occur

Unfortunately, the lakes have been subject to sustained rubbish dumping including general litter, picnic waste, glass, cans, and building rubble.

Council has also retrieved crayfish nets, fishing lines, skateboards, bikes, hooks and rods and a number of clothing items (particularly children’s shoes).

Council asks visitors to the Arboretum to be mindful of their activities during the improvement works to ensure wildlife is not unduly threatened or injured and everyone’s safety is maintained.

The story of the Arboretum

The land which is now the Arboretum was originally owned by the Dobson family and operated as an apple orchard. Knox City Council acquired the land in 1975. In 1988 the Arboretum won the Keep Australia Beautiful Council’s award for Best Bicentennial Project in the Metropolitan Area and in 1995 it won a City Pride award for Most Effective Tourist Attraction.

Constructed in 1988, the Tim Neville Arboretum was the City of Knox’s major project for the Bicentenary. It is situated on 4.4 hectares of land on a site that was previously an orchard. The arboretum was conceived as a site which could exemplify the potential of how people’s gardens could look through careful selection of vegetation. Local businesses and the community have been heavily involved in the planting, art and construction.

Who is Tim Neville?

The Arboretum was officially renamed the Tim Neville Arboretum in 1993 in honour of the late Chief Executive of the City of Knox, whose vision and initiative was a key factor in establishing what has come to be known as ‘The People’s Park’.

Our park

Community participation was prevalent throughout the Arboretum construction phase and has resulted in a strong sense of ownership by local residents and user groups. Art has been installed extensively throughout the site and the public have assisted in the development of most pieces of artwork. School children planted trees, local companies donated materials and many Knox families and businesses donated trees. Service clubs built BBQs and hundreds of children and residents designed and crafted tiles which are located throughout the site.

A Community Adventure Playground was opened on site in 1996 – again with the community providing construction assistance. This playground was renewed in 2010.

To maintain the Arboretum as one of Knox's premier parks a Management Plan was developed in 2007 with substantial community input. Works continue to be done on an annual basis to implement the recommendations of the Management Plan.

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