Salinity investigated at Dowd Morass

Dowd Morass forms part of the lower Latrobe wetlands – an amazing wetland complex that is home to native water birds and a stopping point for migratory shore birds.

It’s attractiveness to wildlife is due in large part to the trees, plants and food the habitat provides. The swamp paper bark trees are an important part of the habitat and how the wetlands function.

According to West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority’s Waterways Project Officer, David Stork, salt water from Lake Wellington is a constant threat to the current values of Dowd Morass – and particularly the swamp paperbark trees.

“In May 2016 salt water from Lake Wellington spilled into Dowd Morass,” said Mr Stork. “This is traditionally a brackish wetland so the plants and trees in the Morass don’t tolerate high levels of salinity.

“It can be hard to assess such a large and at times inaccessible wetland, so we used drones to investigate some of the important sites.

“Since this time, we’ve been working with the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) to use water for the environment to reduce the levels of salinity.

“Combined with minor natural floods, salinity levels have reduced and there has been no measurable impact on the health of vegetation within the wetland.”

WGCMA has been working in partnership with other agencies to work out the best approach to manage the risks from salt water inundation and how to handle it in the future.

“We expect that salt water inundation is something that will happen more frequently in the future,” continued Mr Stork.

“The results of this study to be available later this year.”

Photograph (see attached): aerial images of Dowd Morass taken as part of the project.