The Emerald Link is a community-led proposal to help grow East Gippsland’s economy.
Currently four local Emerald Link regional advocates are undertaking community consultation so local input and ownership is front and centre, as the Emerald Link develops.
They’re meeting with local businesses, community groups and local government to further explore the Emerald Link concept and discuss how it can be brought to fruition.
The Emerald Link is a concept about valuing the unique natural assets of East Gippsland in a way that looks after local communities and the environment.
The Emerald Link stretches from the Nunniong Plateau south of the Alpine National Park, south-west across the Snowy River National Park and Errinundra Plateau, to the Kuark Forest. The Emerald Link continues east-west across the Cann Valley towards Mallacoota, connecting the Coopracambra and Croajingalong National Parks.
Through community and stakeholder consultation, the Emerald Link advocates plan to make better use of the region’s assets.
The proposed area includes dozens of different environments from old growth forests, rainforests to beaches, coastal areas as well as mountains and alpine areas.
Josh Puglisi, of Marlo Plains / Cape Conran, is a keen supporter of the Emerald Link.
“East Gippsland is the only place on mainland Australia with intact forests from the Alps to the coast. I’m proud to live here, I think it’s the greatest place on earth and I want to share it and showcase it,” Josh said.
“But we need to let visitors know what makes East Gippsland so special. Infrastructure and marketing are the key to our region’s success.
“As the former operator of the Cape Conran cabins, I know more and more people are coming to this area. There is just so much potential here and we will get this right by all working together.”
Suzanne Davies is a long-time resident of Buchan and also works at Point Hicks Lighthouse Nunniong area of the Emerald Link.
“The Emerald Link is all about putting people in the landscape. It’s about creating economic opportunities for people in the remote parts of our region and managing our forests so the whole community can benefit,” Suzanne said. “Planning of the Sea To Summit Trail was funded recently by the State Government. This is a great beginning and we are all keen to share this trail with locals and visitors.”
Matt Stephenson is advocate for the Coopracambra to the Coast area. Matt is a motel operator from Bairnsdale and ran as an independent candidate in the 2018 State Election.
“We are all active, known and long-term East Gippsland community members who want to bring the community closer to decision-making and find positive outcomes for our area,” Matt said.
“There is a real economic decline in our small towns. What we’d like to do is try and put some life back into our small communities.”
Birgit Schaedler arrived in Australia from Germany in 1984. She is a community mental health nurse who lives near Orbost. Birgit is advocate for the Errinundra area.
“The idea is to link up our spectacular local areas, making them more accessible to visitors. And the core approach of the Emerald Link is the advocates going out and inviting contributions from communities,” Birgit said.
“We want to hear from everyone in East Gippsland about their vision for a healthy future for our communities.”
“Managing the environment to attract visitors means land management programs to deal with pests and weeds,” Josh said.
“It means building and maintaining tracks, trails, camping and picnic grounds, jetties for fishing, and 4WD tracks.
“If the Emerald Link becomes reality, locals will be needed to guide visitors and build new infrastructure for tourists. The idea is to create jobs for the many, not just the few.”
PICTURE: Emerald Link advocates, Josh Puglisi, Suzanne Davies, Matt Stephenson and Birgit Schaedler at the Jacks Road helipad, Kuark Forest. From here you can see all the way from the coast to the top of Mt Ellery.