Native plants and animals along Jacksons Creek will be better protected thanks to a new restoration project for the wetlands.

The three-year project, funded by a $300,000 state government grant, was launched last week and will establish a nature link along Jacksons Creek, the 10.5 kilometres of private and public land between the Emu Bottom Wetlands and Salesian College on the edge of Sunbury.

Protecting Jacksons Creek flora and fauna from commercial development has been an area of contention between conservation groups and developers.

The creek’s development is part of the Victoria Planning Authority’s Lancefield Road Precinct Structure Plan.

The restoration project will involve tree planting, pest plant and animal control with the hope of improving native vegetation along the valley, supporting animal populations including the growling grass frog, swift parrot and platypus.

The project will be rolled out by the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority with on-the-ground works undertaken by a number of community groups.

Chief executive David Buntine said the project should improve residents and visitors enjoyment of the area, protect and showcase significant indigenous sites and provide opportunities to educate the community about the creek’s environment.

“The project will be a great example of effective environmental work alongside urban areas,” Mr Buntine said.

“The project will improve recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, and also provide community education about the natural values of the creek.

“By linking and strengthening existing pockets of remnant vegetation, this project will deliver improved water quality and habitat for significant species.”

Earlier this month, the Sunbury Residents’ Association delivered a petition against a planned housing proposal to Hume councillors.

The petition, which gained 700 signatures in one afternoon at Sunbury’s Sunfest in March, is part of a push to protect the region from a 460-lot Villawood development behind Salesian College.

Hume council’s planning and development director Kelvin Walsh said he had referred the petition to the strategic planning department for advice and response.

Mr Walsh said part of the council’s submission to the VPA on the proposal was a call for the Villawood cultural heritage management plan to be resolved before hearings took place to “enable an evidence-based discussion on the heritage importance of the valley”.