Benefits to flow downstream

A range of projects in the Perry River Catchment are underway to reduce nutrients and sediments flowing downstream; helping improve water quality in the Gippsland Lakes.

The Maffra and District Landcare Network received Gippsland Lakes Community Grant funding to work with landholders on fencing, revegetation and weed control as well as addressing erosion hot spots along the Perry River and its tributaries.

Network Coordinator, Darren Williams, said the Network had chosen projects across the catchment that would have the greatest impact on improving water quality to the Gippsland Lakes.

“Through our expression of interest process, we had landholders and projects prioritised and ready to go,” explains Darren.

“The works include protecting 15 hectares of streamside vegetation, constructing more than nine kilometres of riparian fencing, carrying out erosion rehabilitation works, addressing weed issues, and revegetation.”

Several of the projects are being carried out in the upper Perry catchment on the tributaries of Middle and Sandy creeks where parcels of former Blue Gum plantation land are being reverted to farmland.

“The Gippsland Lakes Community Grant funding provides a great opportunity as these parcels of land have high quality remnant vegetation along drainage lines,” continued Darren.

“The funding allows a number of property owners to build fencing and to treat sites where active erosion is occurring.”

The erosion control works will have a significant benefit to the Lakes system. Stream erosion contributes over 70 per cent of the fine sediment that reaches the Gippsland Lakes.

“The erosion rehabilitation works will involve things like rock beaching and creating diversion structures which will be complemented with revegetation.

“Our priority with each of these projects is to reduce sediment and nutrients from entering the Gippsland Lakes system, but the project also benefits the very rare ‘Chain of Ponds’ formation that is unique to the Perry River system.

“The Perry River catchment has fantastic vegetation connectivity from the foothills of the mountains right down to the Gippsland Lakes and the works that we are doing will help enhance this connectivity which also functions as an important wildlife corridor.”

Darren said the Landcare approach to working with farmers means they are looking more broadly than these projects.

“Each of the landowners that we are working with is being helped to improve farm layout and functionality and whilst we are trying to address specific nutrient and sediment problems as part of this project, our approach is about ensuring that this is done as part of a whole farm plan.

“For instance, we’ll look at the range of issues that each landowner might need help with; such as improving soil condition, pasture composition and grazing management or addressing weed and pest threats.”

The Gippsland Lakes Community Grants are funded by the Victorian State Government for the health of the Gippsland Lakes. For more information on the grants please visit www.loveourlakes.net.au