Public infrastructure can make it easier for people to connect with natural environments. This can enhance human wellbeing and increase people’s awareness of natural habitats. However, such access and associated infrastructure needs to be balanced with maintaining ecological values of an area.
Port Welshpool’s long jetty provides an example of an environmentally sensitive approach to restoring public infrastructure.
The jetty is unmissable as you arrive in town, stretching 800 metres out to the waters of Corner Inlet. Constructed in the late 1930s, the jetty serviced maritime activity in the Bass Strait until the 1980s.
However, over time the jetty’s condition deteriorated, and it was closed in 2003 following fire damage. The local community cared deeply for the jetty and lobbied for restoration of the historical structure. A project commenced, aiming to:
- Restore the jetty’s safety and useability.
- Restore the jetty’s function as a place to fish.
- Provide an attraction for visitors and economic benefits for Port Welshpool.
- Protect and enhance the site’s environmental values as well as the jetty’s heritage values.
As part of the Corner Inlet Ramsar site, it was necessary for the project design to add to the amenity of the environment. It was also important to engage the community in coastal issues and increase local involvement in the planning and management of the coast.
The Victorian Marine and Coastal Awards recognised the project for its environmentally sensitive approach that enhanced marine habitat and minimised disturbance. When restoring the jetty, old piles were cut off below water level to retain as marine habitat.
This restored coastal asset engages visitors with the local marine environment, provides amenities and activities that reinforce cultural heritage values.
Read more about coastal communities and public infrastructure in the State of the Marine and Coastal Environment 2021 Report.