The state government has announced it will make the You Yangs Regional Park, which is located near Little River, a mining-free zone.

Minister for Resources Jaclyn Symes said last month that Earth Resources Regulation – which sits within the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions – would place an exemption on the park to restrict minerals exploration licencing in the area.

“The You Yangs are important to many local people, the indigenous community and visitors across Victoria – and we’re proud to be protecting it from mining so people can enjoy the area for many years to come,” Ms Symes said.

The regional park covers part of the southern area of the You Yangs, a granite range that rises from the Werribee Plains. The site is popular for its bushwalking, mountain biking and horse riding trails.

The park, which is managed by Parks Victoria, is home to koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, brush-tail possums, echidnas as well as more than 200 species of birds.

The You Yangs also support a rich variety of plant species, such as Manna Gum, Yellow Gum and River Red Gum, as well as the endangered Brittle Greenhood Orchid. The name You Yangs comes from the the Aboriginal word “Wurdi Youang” or “Ude Youang” meaning big mountain in the middle of the plain.

Lara MP John Eren welcomed the exemption. “It’s good news for everyone that the You Yangs will now benefit from better protections,” he said.