Five projects have been funded in the 2017-2018 community grants worth $252,683 . These projects complement projects funded by the Victorian State Government to be implemented across the Lakes.
The projects are
Australian Pelican as a platform for citizen science and drought refuge studies – Birdlife Australia
Surveys will continue to monitor abundance and diversity of waterbird species as a measure of wetland health across a variety of mega habitats within the Gippsland Lakes. This information will demonstrate the value of the Gippsland Lakes to the birds directly as residents and as a refuge for nomad species in time of regional and national drought as trends begin to appear across a larger data set.
This project will focus not only on several colonial nesting species but on the highly mobile and iconic Pelican to assist in determining importance and health of Gippsland Lakes as a drought refuge.
This highly mobile species are renowned for their ability to disperse from coastal refuge when significant rainfall events occur inland, similarly is their ability to find a safe haven in times of drought.
Through the ‘Great Pelican Count’ community awareness and participation will be encouraged and appeal to a range of age groups.
Study of Australasian Bittern movements as an indicator of wetland health – Birdlife Australia
This project will build on the knowledge gained from the current funding for Australasian Bittern by attempting to capture and attach satellite transmitters to adult Australian Bitterns.
This is critical to better understanding movement and habitat requirements as well as identity of significant wetland locations across the Gippsland Lakes preferred by this species. By attaching transmitters, we will gain a better understanding of where these significant wetlands are, how the Bitterns use them and will provide a valuable guide to ensure successful management practices to protect these sites into the future.
Bitterns often share their landscape with Growling and Green and Gold Bell Frogs, this project has potential to provide further evidence of suitable habitat for those working with these species.
The use of transmitters creates a unique visual for land managers and offers a very real insight into a species. This often creates a wider community audience as shown by BirdLife Australia’s highly successful Murray Darling ‘Bitterns in Rice’ program, and the famous ‘Robbie’ the Bittern. It provides armchair travel whilst passively imparting knowledge – community members can log in to see -where is our bird today?
Eagle Point Reserve Restoration – Gippsland Plains Conservation Management Network
Eagle Point Reserve leading onto Mitchell River Silt Jetties is an important part of the Gippsland Lakes Ramsar site. The Gippsland Plains Conservation Management Network will work on to reduce erosion within the reserve, reducing the amount of sediment entering the Lakes system.
This will be done by fencing, improving drainage, revegetation works and restricting vehicle access to sensitive sites. The project includes a public awareness campaign to increase appreciation for conservation and cultural significance of the area.
Revegetation of the Heyfield Wetlands – Heyfield Wetlands Committee
This project will improve the filtration capacity of the Heyfield Wetlands by building a new filtration pond, replace indigenous aquatic plants and continue developing habitat and nesting sites for waterbirds.
The Heyfield Wetlands role is to filter nutrients, sediment and toxins from the township of Heyfield including saleyards and surrounding farmland before the water enters the Thomson River and ultimately the Gippsland Lakes. The process of planting many thousands of trees, shrubs, grasses, sedges and aquatic plants has been and will continue to improve habitat for native species on the 70-acre site.
Nutrient and sediment reduction in the central Latrobe catchment – Latrobe Catchment Landcare Network
Reducing nutrient and sediment that enters waterways and ultimately the Gippsland Lakes is important to maintain water quality and help prevent algal blooms.
The Latrobe Landcare Network will work key landholders in their catchment to fence and revegetate sections of creeks and rivers. This will create a buffer zone to control nutrient and sediment runoff and improve biodiversity by providing a vegetation corridor for wildlife to use.