Australia's box-ironbark forests and woodlands once covered about 14 per cent of the State of Victoria on the riverine plains and foothills of the Great Dividing Range. But approximately 83 per cent of the total original habitat has been destroyed and what remains of this significant ecosystem is now highly fragmented and vulnerable to further degradation. Moreover, only 14 per cent of the area remaining is on public land. A 10 year campaign on the part of the environmental movement eventually succeeded in forcing the State government to conduct an independent inquiry into this ecosystem and make recommendations on future management. This paper outlines the innovative public participation process adopted by the Victorian State government and the outcomes of the inquiry. A subsequent compensation package for commercial operations disadvantaged by the proclamation of a series of new national parks is also discussed, as are the shortcomings of a process that can have little or no impact on what happens on private land.
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