From the elusive Golden Sun Moth to the shy Southern Brown Bandicoot, some of our most threatened animals and plants live in our neighbourhoods. Many of these were once widespread throughout Victoria, but are now facing extinction due to habitat loss, predators and disease. That’s why we’re taking action to make sure they not only remain in these areas – but thrive into the future.

We protect these unique plants and animals by securing some of the best remaining habitat around Melbourne's outskirts. We also work with our partners to help these conservation areas become much-loved parts of our new suburbs.

We are creating 2 large reserves just outside of Melbourne. These will be a haven for threatened species and protect some of the last remaining sections of endangered ecosystems in Victoria. One of the key benefits of this approach is that smaller areas of important habitat will be consolidated into a single, large conservation reserve. The reserves will also enable Victorians to connect with nature at a local level.

We also run much-needed conservation management programs for species including the Southern Brown Bandicoot, Growling Grass Frog and Button Wrinklewort.

Map of species and ecosystems across Melbourne

Why was the Melbourne Strategic Assessment program created?

Melbourne’s population is on the rise – it’s tipped to reach more than 6 million by 2030. To accommodate for this rapid increase, 4 growth areas covering 60,000 hectares were set aside for urban development.

Many nationally threatened animals, plants and ecosystems are found in these 4 areas and will be impacted by development. The Melbourne Strategic Assessment (MSA) program ensures that development in these areas follows Victorian and Australian environmental laws, and protects our biodiversity.

The program streamlines the biodiversity assessment and approvals process for developers. This process includes a levy that developers must pay to offset any impacts on biodiversity. This levy goes towards funding our conservation reserves and programs. The MSA program is a long-term, strategic approach that will achieve strong outcomes for biodiversity.

Our aim

Protect nationally threatened plants, animals and ecosystems in and around Melbourne’s growth areas.

Growling Grass Frog 

Growling Grass Frog

  • One of Melbourne’s largest frogs
  • Sounds like a motorbike engine revving

Threats: habitat loss, predators and disease

Striped Legless Lizard 

Striped Legless Lizard

  • 30cm long
  • Looks like a baby snake and lives underground
  • Squeaks to communicate with each other

Threats: habitat loss


Golden Sun Moth

  • Unlike most moths, is active during the day
  • Only live for 5 days as they can’t eat
  • Males don’t travel more than 100 metres from suitable habitat
  • Females can’t fly

Threats:  habitat loss

Matted flax-lily 

Spiny Rice-flower

  • Small shrub up to 30cm with pale yellow flowers
  • Lives up to 100 years

Threats:  invasive weeds and habitat loss

Button wrinklewort 

Button Wrinklewort

  • Perennial herb
  • Member of the daisy family, with yellow flowers
  • Lives up to 30 years

Threats: invasive weeds and habitat loss

Natural Temperate Grassland 

Natural Temperate Grassland

  • Filled with native grasses, wildflowers, lilies, peas, orchids and a scattering of shrubs and trees, varies dramatically depending on the time of year - and the history of the site
  • Home to a variety of nationally threatened animals and more than 20 threatened plants.

Threats: agriculture, clearing and invasive weeds

Grassy Eucalypt Woodland copy 

Grassy Eucalypt Woodland

  • Once widespread around Melbourne and managed for thousands of years by Aboriginal people
  • Rich agricultural opportunities of the volcanic soils were an important factor leading to the colonisation of the Melbourne area.

Threats: grazing, clearing, invasive weeds

Seasonal Herbaceous Wetland 

Seasonal Herbaceous Wetlands

  • Isolated, shallow, freshwater wetlands occurring on fertile clay soils
  • Generally low and open, the vegetation is made up of native grasses, sedges, wildflowers and ferns which survive in both wet and dry conditions
  • Filled by rainfall but can remain dry for long periods.
  • During dry periods, the wetlands may seem to disappear from the landscape, but remain vital habitat for numerous plants and animals

Threats: grazing, clearing, invasive weeds

How does the program work?

Creating conservation reserves and management programs

We deliver a range of conservation actions to protect threatened species and ecosystems, and secure their future. We permanently protect habitat that is too important to be cleared within and around our new suburbs. Our key actions are:

Find out more about what we've done so far.

Key documents

Melbourne Strategic Assessment agreement

Under the Australian Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), 4 development actions that relate to the MSA program were approved:

This means that developers don't need any further approvals for the EPBC Act in these areas, as long as they follow the Program Report and the conditions of the approvals. These make sure that development proceeds in a way that protects threatened species.

Approval is still required from the Commonwealth Government for development of the Outer Metropolitan Ring Transport Corridor/E6 Road Reservation.

Program report

This report outlines how we ensure that development in our growth areas goes ahead in a way that protects nationally threatened species ecosystems.

Program report (Accessible version)

Strategic Impact Assessment report

This report looks at the impacts of the Victorian Government's urban development program on nationally threatened species and ecosystems. It also identifies conservation actions needed to mitigate the impacts of development.

Strategic Impact Assessment report (Accessible version)

Biodiversity Conservation Strategy

The Biodiversity Conservation Strategy (PDF, 19.8 MB) outlines how we protect biodiversity in Melbourne's growth areas by setting up a network of conservation areas around Melbourne.


Page last updated: 29/09/21