Landcare is an inspired movement that has transformed landscapes. This National Landcare Week, we pay tribute to Landcarers everywhere – especially those working for the health of the Gippsland Lakes.
Local landcarers shone in the recent round of the Gippsland Lakes Coordination Committee’s Community Grants with three Landcare groups being empowered to deliver four projects that are innovative, collaborative and, best of all, great for the Gippsland Lakes environment.
East Gippsland Landcare Network along with Nicholson River and Romawi Landcare groups will deliver four projects for the Lakes.
Romawi Landcare will deliver two projects to fortify Forge Creek, which runs directly into the Gippsland Lakes, and to protect the waterway’s native Pygmy Perch – a threatened species.
“Our group was fascinated to see the native fish that live in Forge Creek and really delighted to find out we had Pygmy Perch. While everyone knows that carp are a major problem in our waterways, the tiny non-native mosquito fish may be posing an even bigger threat by out-competing our natives,” said Trish Fox.
Fish surveys will be carried out across six ponds along Forge Creek and Pygmy Perch will be reintroduced to select ponds. The survey will also show where exotic fish species are impacting native threatened species and these fish will be reduced. The group will create a scientifically informed management plan for the area to guide future actions.
“We know how important this chain of ponds is and we want to ensure they can persist in drought and keep providing a water source for the fauna in our area.
Funding for bird surveys will also allow the group to track how ten years of planting has benefited birds and increased species diversity.
“Our Group was just delighted to receive this funding. We’ve been plugging away quietly for years but now we feel reinvigorated by knowing that the funders share and support our ambitions for this great creek.”
“Forge Creek is a really beautiful place and it’s amazing to find something so wild in a rural area. I think our whole Group appreciates how important the creek is and really want to ensure that this link to the Gippsland Lakes is as healthy as it can be.”
Nicholson River Landcare leading the charge
Nicholson River Landcare Group is another inspiring example of how these community grants improve waterways and unite community. The group was a successful recipient in the last round of funding and their latest project includes on-ground works, stock exclusion fencing, weed control and revegetation on a wetland area adjoining the Nicholson River.
The group also ran a series of engagement events to educate and inspire residents and the broader community about the wetlands.
Their work means they are playing their part in reducing nutrient and sediment loads to the Gippsland Lakes and improving water quality of river flows to the Gippsland Lakes.
“This community grant has helped us greatly – we couldn’t do it without the funding,” said group secretary Marion Dawson who has been with the group for over two decades.
“The whole area was completely barren when we moved in over 40 years ago. Now planting and restoration work has totally changed the landscape.”
“This funding has meant we can work together to keep the river in good health and restore the wetland. Removal of Spiny Rush and weeds is well underway and once we’ve controlled the weeds, we can map out the final step of revegetating the site with suitable wetland plants.”
“What’s really pleasing about this project is through a series of on-site meetings the neighbours are aware of the benefits of restoring the wetlands and are happy to come on board and be involved.
At the heart of the Nicholson River Landcare Group is teamwork and a united love for improving the environment.
“All the members work together to protect and improve the waterways – it’s a small way that we can help.”
Restoring Mullet Bay
Flowing directly into Jones Bay between the Nicholson and Tambo rivers lies Mullet Bay. East Gippsland Landcare Network will protect this important waterway through fencing, weed control and revegetation activities on adjoining properties. Works will enhance the wetland’s biodiversity and reduce impacts of pest plants and grazing stock. A field day will also inform and raise awareness in the community.
The project will continue to reduce nutrient and sediment loads to the Gippsland Lakes and improve water quality of rivers flowing into the Lakes. It will also maintain and improve wildlife corridors.
The grants form part of a $248 million investment over four years (2020-24) by the Victorian Government to improve the health of waterways and catchments across regional Victoria. Of this, $7.5 million is dedicated to the health of Gippsland Lakes and for the delivery of on-ground works, monitoring and community engagement.
Landcare Week is an annual celebration of landcare to acknowledge the Australians who are actively restoring, enhancing and protecting the natural environment in their community.
If you would like to find a group in East Gippsland near and get involved click here.