The Latrobe local area includes the Country of the Gunaikurnai Traditional Owners and Bunurong Traditional Owners. At present, there are also parts of the local area where formal recognition is not in place. Traditional Owners have a deep and continuing connection to the area and have an ongoing role in caring for Country.

The Latrobe local area extends from Warragul in the west to Rosedale in the east and falling between the Great Dividing Range and Strzelecki Ranges. Rainfall varies across the local area with high and generally reliable rainfall in the west compared with the eastern end.  

The local area includes the major population centres of Warragul, Moe, Morwell and Traralgon and the smaller townships of Yarragon, Trafalgar, and Rosedale. The Latrobe local area supports several major industries and related strategic assets including major water supply dams, significant brown coal deposits and major power stations in the Latrobe Valley1.

With its proximity to Melbourne and access to natural resources, the Latrobe local area has many advantages; however, the communities that live and work in the Latrobe Valley are faced with significant challenges.  

Economic restructuring and declining employment associated with the closure of the Hazelwood mine and power plant, and the future closures of Yallourn and Loy Yang are major challenges for the community in this local area. The plans for mine rehabilitation and future development also have the potential to impact water sharing and environmental values. These factors have made the Latrobe Valley the focus for a significant program for economic transition with the community calling for a ‘cleaner and greener’ future1;2.

Within the local area, there is a network of community groups and volunteers with a strong interest in the natural environment. Landcare volunteers and groups in the local area are supported by the Latrobe Catchment Landcare Network and Maffra and Districts Landcare Network.  

The Latrobe River is the major river system in the local area flowing from the Great Dividing Range in the west and discharging to Lake Wellington, part of the Gippsland Lakes Ramsar Site. Urban waterways include parts of Traralgon Creek, Waterhole Creek and Hazel Creek. Other tributaries to the Latrobe River include Shady Creek, Tyers River, Moe River, Morwell River, Rintoul and Eaglehawk Creeks3.

Water is a valuable resource in the local area with Lake Narracan together with Blue Rock and Moondarra Reservoirs in the adjacent local area providing water that supports industry, urban, agriculture and domestic consumptive uses as well as the environment. There are multiple entitlements and provisions for environmental water in the Latrobe Basin including passing flows and limits on allocations for consumptive users4

The Latrobe local area includes soils of the riverine plain and are made up of sediments eroded from the surrounding ranges and are variable. Soil and land are highly valued for supporting agricultural production. The soil and land asset supports several threatened ecological vegetation classes. Soils in the west tend to be finer textured and more acid, whilst in the east, there is a tendency for soils to be more sodic with more sand in the surface layers5;6.

The western part of the local area includes key areas of fragmented habitat within a corridor (biolink) that supports 1,296 species of flora and 339 species of fauna, including the genetically diverse South Gippsland koala population. Areas of Damp Forest and Lowland Forest within this corridor are a focus for creating a link across the Latrobe City Council area with core habitat areas in the Strzelecki Ranges and Great Dividing Range7.

Collaborative action for Biodiversity

The local area incorporates parts of six landscapes of interest for the Biodiversity Response Planning process.

The eastern part of the local area includes part of the Mullungdung Darriman and Red Gum Plains focus areas for Biodiversity Response Planning. Important vegetation communities include the Gippsland Red Gum Grassy Woodland and associated Native Grassland ecological community, Seasonal Herbaceous Wetlands of the Temperate Lowland Plains (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Federal)) and Forest Red Gum Grassy Woodland Community (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victorian)) as well as numerous threatened flora and fauna species8.