Managing land for conservation

Much of the Gippsland Lakes wetlands between the Avon and Latrobe rivers is actually private land. The good news is that more than 85% of these are now being managed for conservation.

Greening Australia’s, Martin Potts, said this was thanks to a lot of great work from the landowners and Greening Australia through government funding.

“I’ve been really impressed that landowners are prepared to get on board and manage their land for conservation,” said Marty.

“Much of this land used to be grazed and before the conservation projects start they are in a fairly degraded state.

“Most of the landholders did not realise the true value of their property has with the saltmarsh wetlands being perceived as the worst area of the farm.

“These wetlands are so important because not only do they filter water that ends up in the Gippsland Lakes they are also vital habitat for migratory birds and other species.”

A recent project at Curtains Flat is protecting another 90ha of fringing wetland.

“Again, we’re working with the landowners at their property near Lake Wellington,” continues Marty.
“This property includes almost 70ha of nationally listed coastal saltmarsh and 10ha of the endangered plains grassy woodland.

“These environments are home to the endangered growling grass, green and golden bell frogs, the extremely shy and rare Australasian Bittern and more than seven species of migratory wading birds.

“It’s a really exciting time on this property as we’re starting to see the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Latham’s Snipe return for the summer months.

“These birds undertake an epic migratory journey from the northern hemisphere to the Gippsland Lakes to breed and feed.”

Wetlands are isolated in the landscape, but plants and animals move between them. Frogs and smaller animals can only travel relatively short distances, so land between sections managed for conservation can act as a barrier to them.

Connectivity between wetlands helps animals and birds find suitable places to live which also helps them be more resilient if they are disturbed.

“Our project at Curtains Flat is a multiyear project which has involved fencing and revegetating,” said Marty

“Future works will include weed control and further revegetation.

“We hope that by the end of the project we’ll see a greater diversity of species and more numbers calling these wetlands home.”

This project is funded by the Victorian State Government for the Gippsland Lakes.