The West Gippsland region contributes:

  • 23% of Australia’s milk production
  • Most of Victoria’s electricity and gas (offshore)
  • About 60% of Melbourne’s water.

West Gippsland’s land and natural resources underpin the regional economy. Most of the main industries in the region have a direct connection to land including:

  • Agriculture and forestry
  • Energy production (electricity, oil and gas)
  • Supply of potable and irrigation water
  • Food product manufacturing and processing
  • Construction and residential building.

The region’s variety of soil types reflect the geology, climate, organic activity and age (e.g. degree of weathering). Most of the region’s soils are moderately well structured and support natural ecosystems, forestry and the highly diverse agricultural sector.

The Great Dividing Range, Strzelecki Ranges and the western half of the region receive high rainfall. The western and southern parts of the region are some of the most productive agricultural areas in the state due to the combination of reliable rainfall and fertile soils. The Gippsland Lakes and Hinterland and the Gippsland Coastal Plains local areas are in rain shadow areas, and are more susceptible to the effects of drought. Access to water for irrigation is particularly important in the greater Macalister Irrigation Area.

The Great Dividing Range, the eastern Strzelecki Ranges and Wilsons Promontory are less modified and support extensive areas of native vegetation. These areas have a substantial proportion of the region’s public land which is valued for its natural features. 

Some areas of the region remain under pressure from development with land changing towards urban and rural residential development. For example, in Bass Coast, South Gippsland and Baw Baw local government areas, there is considerable competition for land between rural residential development, urban expansion (including the expansion of Melbourne’s peri-urban fringe) and agriculture1

Changes in agricultural enterprise type and intensity are also being observed with irrigated horticulture increasing in the region (see below for more detail). 

Bass Coast Distinctive Area and Landscape

The Bass Coast was declared a Distinctive Area and Landscape under the Planning and Environment Act 1987. The declaration triggers the requirement to prepare a Statement of Planning Policy that will help guide land use decision making to ensure the unique features of the Bass Coast are protected for current and future generations. It sets out a 50-year vision, a framework plan and the long-term needs for the integration of decision making and planning.

Renewable Energy Zones

The Victorian Government has legislated renewable energy targets of 25 per cent of electricity generation by 2020, 40 per cent by 2025, and 50 per cent by 2030.

The development of Renewable Energy Zones (REZs) across Victoria is part of the state’s approach to energy transformation. REZs are areas of abundant renewable energy resources such as solar and wind, where further development can contribute to the delivery of secure and clean energy for Victoria. Gippsland has been identified as one of six REZs in Victoria. The development of the Gippsland REZ will result in the transition from coal fire-power to planned development of renewable energy resources7.