Protecting Wonyip’s wonderful wildlife

Landcarers protecting Wonyip’s wonderful wildlife

Wildlife like the Strzelecki koalas are set to benefit from the planting of 500 native trees thanks to funding from the Victorian Landcare Grants.  

Wonyip Landcare Group was awarded a grant in the 2023 Victorian Landcare Grants for their planting project at Dingo Creek, a tributary of the Agnes River high up in South Gippsland’s Strzelecki Ranges.  

“This funding will go towards purchasing 500 seedlings, grown at the Yarram Yarram Landcare nursery, that our volunteers will plant along the creek. Importantly, it will also help pay for the sturdy wire tree guards we use to protect the young plants from deer, which are a problem around here,” said group member Russell Botton, who lives on Dingo Creek and has been involved in Wonyip Landcare Group for five years. 

The goal is to create a safe passage for native fauna to move through while also improving the overall health of the local ecosystem. 

“We hope to attract a range of native species from insects, reptiles, small mammals, birds and even owls – the whole food chain.  We’ll also be planting mountain grey gums to attract Strzelecki koalas, which have been seen around here.”  

It’s another step forward in the group’s ongoing efforts to restore native habitat and connect disparate areas of remnant old growth forest along Dingo Creek and the Agnes River.  

“This project is an extension of previous work and will join up with planting we did downstream at Dingo Creek campground a few years ago,” said Russell.  

It’s the next stage in a long-term project to extend the corridor 5.8km upstream, where it will eventually border Bratuaulung Forest Park. 

With planning for the wildlife corridor well underway, the group aims to begin planting by early Spring. In the meantime, they’re busy undertaking a major biodiversity survey to establish baseline data of the species in the region and understand the health of their populations. In a series of events run by volunteers and experts, the group is observing and documenting information about the local flora and fauna of the region, taking surveys of fungi, birds, insects, frogs, reptiles and collecting platypus DNA.  

“This valuable data will help us assess how projects like the wildlife corridor are contributing to Wonyip’s biodiversity and the protection of local species like the Strzelecki koalas.” said Russell.  “It will give us ideas for future projects, too.”

The annual Victorian Landcare Grants provide funding to help Landcare and environmental volunteers protect and restore landscapes.  West Gippsland Landcare groups received $365,118 for 24 projects and 37 support grants under the last funding round.  The funding is underpinned by the Andrews Labor Government’s Biodiversity 2037 strategy, a record investment of $582 million since 2014 – the biggest investment into protecting biodiversity and environment in our state’s history.  

The next round of Victorian Landcare Grants is expected to open in early 2024.

Community gathers to celebrate wetlands

It was a full house at Nakunbalook Environmental and Cultural Education Centre last Friday to celebrate World Wetlands Day with the community.

We heard from partners working to protect the world renowned Gippsland Lakes Ramsar wetlands and took a stroll to check out the birds, frogs and Flying Foxes.

Dr Adrian Clements from West Gippsland CMA kicked off the evening sharing the history and current management of the Lower Latrobe wetlands including the role of delivering environmental water into the system.

Kim Allan and Kerry Spencer from East Gippsland CMA talked about the Gippsland Lakes Ramsar Site. Jack Winterbottom from BirdLife East Gippsland inspired everyone about the incredible array and lives of wetland birds both resident and migratory and also gave an update on White-bellied Sea Eagles. Sharon Ray provided fun for kids and a walk to the Flying Fox colony.

World Wetlands Day, is celebrated annually on 2 February, and aims to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands.

We’ll keep working together to protect wetlands every day of the year. Find out more and keep up to date on the wetland projects we have on the go.

Thanks to event partners:

Connected rivers and connected people photo competition

West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA) is once again calling all photographers to submit their images for the Connected rivers, connected people photo competition with great prizes to be won.  

The popular annual competition encourages photographers to get snapping along three key rivers of the region. These rivers are chosen because they receive annual allocations of ‘water for the environment’ and are:

  • Durt’Yowan (Latrobe River) – including the Lower Latrobe Wetlands ie: Dowd Morass, Heart Morass and Sale Common
  • Wirn wirndook Yeerung (Macalister River)
  • Carran Carran (Thomson River) – including the Heyfield Wetlands.

There are three prizes up for grabs, each a local business association voucher with the winner receiving $600, runner up $300 and a special under eighteen category with a prize of $100.  

“Rivers are the lifeblood of our towns and communities, carrying water for people, farms, and the environment. Healthy and connected rivers are essential for healthy people, healthy communities and healthy local economies,” said Dr Stephanie Suter, Environmental Water Officer for West Gippsland CMA.

“Rivers across West Gippsland provide water for towns, industry and food production. So we’re removing large amounts of water that would normally naturally flow into the environment. Because of this, the health of our rivers and wetlands is under threat and they may not be able to support the animals and plants that depend on them.”

To redress the balance, the Carran Carran (Thomson), Durt’Yowan (Latrobe) and Wirn wirndook Yeerung (Macalister) rivers receive ‘water for the environment’.

“This carefully planned and delivered water helps restore a more natural flow to improve conditions for the people that use them as well as plants and animals that live there.”

Simply capture an image of one of these three rivers or wetlands showing how you connect with them and be in the running to win the great prizes.  

“Your photo might show you connecting with nature by fishing, kayaking or when you spotted that elusive platypus. It might reflect the inner peace you felt as you captured a beautiful sunrise on the river. It might show you connecting with your friends during a swim or riverside BBQ. It might just be a pretty photo of the river that shows that you connect with its beauty. This will be different for different people, depending on how you value the river,” said Stephanie. 

As an added bonus, the credited images will also appear in West Gippsland’s annual Seasonal Watering Plan document and other areas that promote and protect the magnificent waterways of West Gippsland. So get snapping West Gippsland! 

The competition is open from Thursday 1 February and will close at 11;59pm on Monday 11 March, 2024. Please read the terms and conditions before submitting your entry.

📷 Heath Bruerton
📷 James Kettner
📷 Claire Jobling
More information and enter

Happy World Wetlands day from the CMA!

This World Wetlands Day, West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA), is encouraging everyone to explore a local wetland and discover for themselves how valuable and special these ecosystems are for people and planet.   

“Wetlands are truly remarkable, and we are lucky to live in a region with two world-renowned wetlands on our doorstep, that is Corner Inlet and Gippsland Lakes Ramsar site. There are also 11 wetlands of national importance, plus many smaller, local wetlands providing recreational and environmental benefits to the community.” says Martin Fuller, CEO of WGCMA.

World Wetlands Day, celebrated annually on 2 February, aims to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands. This year’s theme spotlights how wetlands and human life are interconnected and calls on each of us to value and steward our wetlands.

And this is exactly what Green Team students from St Pauls Anglican Grammar School did recently when they joined the CMA in releasing 70 adult Dwarf Galaxias fish into a wetland on Wades Creek in Traralgon.

“Dwarf Galaxias are native to West Gippsland’s rivers and are now Threatened in Victoria due to changes in land use, loss of natural wetlands, places to find refuge and changes in rivers such as regulation and pest species,” explained Dr Stephanie Suter, Environmental Water Officer for West Gippsland CMA.

The release took place at a constructed wetland that connects seasonally to Wades Creek and the broader Durt’Yowan (Latrobe River) catchment creating wildlife habitat and a place for people to enjoy and connect with nature.

Chris Lamin, who specialises in growing native fish at her Middle Creek Farm, donated the tiny adult fish. Green Team students avidly listened to Chris talk about her passion for native fish. Stephanie also inspired the budding conservationists by talking about the CMA’s role in caring for the wetlands and rivers the fish were being released into.

The CMA had planted trees at the site over previous years and a few wet years have seen the wetland flourish and connect with Wade Creek and the greater river system giving the dwarf fish the best chance for survival.

“CMAs across Victoria are working hard to improve conditions for fish – through river restoration and environmental water flows. It was great introducing the kids to an area they don’t usually visit to talk about the bigger picture of why fish need help and so do rivers and wetlands. The Green Team are the future generation and are going to be looking after these species in years to come. 

The Dwarf Galaxias is listed as Threatened under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. This means the numbers of Dwarf Galaxias are declining so it is very important that we do everything we can to help protect the creeks and waterways that they live in, and to create new places that they can live and breed in.

The CMA is also celebrating the day with a free, family friendly event at Nakunbalook Environmental and Cultural Education Centre in Sale from 5pm.  

While the event is free, we ask you to register via our Try Booking link using the button below.

Event Registration

 

Black Duck Duckling Sale Wetland
Pelican flying over Sale Common

Discovering Powlett’s Life Aquatic

The Powlett River and its six main tributaries are precious waterways and West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is now one step closer to discovering more about life below their surface with results from a Spring survey of aquatic life across the catchment just in. 

Recognised as a priority waterway for West Gippsland, the Powlett, known as Kugerungmome by Bunurong Traditional Owners, has a total catchment area of 50,800 hectares and, along with Lance Creek, supplies water for townships including Wonthaggi, Inverloch and Cape Paterson. 

“We’re excited to have completed this first baseline survey as part of the Powlett River Kugerungmome Partnerships project,” said Martin Fuller, CEO of West Gippsland CMA. 

“Having the team record a diversity of native species is very encouraging. This survey will help us and our partners in the future management of this catchment.” 

The survey took samples at sites along the main river and its main tributaries of Foster, Lance, West, Archies, Bridge and Woolshed Creeks to provide a good spatial understanding of the river’s aquatic animals and plants.

The team used a variety of sampling methods suited to the river conditions at each location including backpack electrofishing, hand-held dip-netting and bait traps, along with audio and visual observation.

“Whilst the catchment lays entirely within agricultural land, it was heartening to discover healthy fish populations in some of the waterways,” said Paula Camenzuli, Natural Resource Management Strategic Planner for West Gippsland CMA. 

“Species recorded include Common galaxias, Tupong, Southern shortfinned eel, Freshwater shrimp and Burrowing crayfish and we are also pleased that no introduced fish species were found,” Paula said.  

Follow up surveys are planned for Autumn 2024 and results will be shared with project partners to provide valuable information on the condition of Powlett River and its tributaries and how best to work together to manage and protect them. 

Powlett River Kugerungmome Partnerships project is a joint initiative led by West Gippsland CMA and involves Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, Bass Coast Landcare Network, Birdlife Australia, Friends of Hooded Plover Bass Coast, Trust for Nature and Parks Victoria and is funded by the Victorian Government’s Our Catchments Our Communities program. 

Celebrating a year of catchment health

Increasing partnerships, removing the last willow from the Agnes River, and delivering a remarkable flood recovery program were just a few of the highlights of 2023 for West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA). 

We are incredibly proud of all we have achieved together with Traditional Owners, partners, volunteers and community over the past year to protect and enhance West Gippsland’s wonderful natural assets. 

You can read all about it in our 2023 Achievements Brochure (PDF 32MB)

Across the catchment, notable achievements of 2023 include:

  • Completing 178,339 hectares of weed control to protect native vegetation and restore  habitat
  • Revegetating and enhancing 194 hectares of vegetation for wildlife and healthy ecosystems
  • Benefiting 9,744 hectares by creating whole farm, irrigation and soil erosion management plans. 

In June 2021, a major event caused storm damage across Gippsland with flooding in a number of catchments. Over the last two years, we have assessed damage and undertaken repair works via a comprehensive flood recovery program including:

  • Treating 214 hectares of weeds to enhance biodiversity
  • Planting 14,250 trees to stabilise riverbanks
  • Fencing 4.13 kilometres to protect waterways
  • Creating three waterway structures to make the river more resilient
  • Stabilising 7.31 kilometres of riverbanks at eight sites
  • Using rock to strengthen and repair 3.98 kilometres of riverbanks.

You can download and read our 2023 Achievements Brochure (PDF 4MB), for a snapshot of all we’ve achieved over the past year, including case studies of key projects and partnerships.

Boost for native Bass

West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) along with Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) and community members recently released 10,000 native migratory Bass into Traralgon Creek. 

“We were delighted to partner with VFA and the community to release this next generation of native fish into the system,” said Martin Fuller, CEO of West Gippsland CMA.  

Over the past two decades, the CMA has been working with Traditional Owners, landholders, partners and community to improve the health of the catchment to allow these fish to thrive. This Bass stocking is only made possible by this work to secure environmental flows and improve river health.  

“We see this release as one that represents hope for the river. Bass were recently listed as ‘rare’ in Victoria and the VFA’s stocking program, along with water for the environment, mean they are now off the Threatened Species list. “ 

has fenced off stock, planted native vegetation and, for over a decade, has delivered water for the environment to provide conditions native fish need.  

Water for the environment is set aside in major reservoirs and carefully released down rivers to support their health. The water can also be diverted into the lower Latrobe wetlands. 

Bass are native migratory fish that need specific large water flows in late winter and early spring to cue spawning and migration. Over time, changes to the river for irrigation, water supply and other needs mean that these conditions now happen very rarely – so we give them a hand with deliveries of environmental water that mimic what would happen naturally. Floods in 2021 produced the most recent spawning event since the 1980s and it is hoped that this next event will also give the Bass population a boost.  

While water for the environment can’t replace natural breeding cues, it can provide the right conditions to help these young Bass to grow and survive. It will also support the health of adult fish and promote breeding when conditions are right. 

The Victorian Government is delivering a $248 million investment into improving waterway and catchment health across Victoria, including flagship waterway sites. 

You can watch this video that shows the fish being released and explains the bigger picture.

Durt’Yowan (Latrobe River) Life Source film

After successful preview screenings and meaningful community discussions in Sale, Traralgon and Warragul, we’re pleased to publicly release our new short documentary Durt’Yowan (Latrobe River) – The Life Source.

The video tells the story of Durt’Yowan, the Gunaikurnai name for the Latrobe River and one of Victoria’s iconic rivers. Beginning near the Baw Baw plateau, running through the Latrobe Valley and into the Gippsland Lakes, Durt’Yowan has been the life source for people in Gippsland for thousands of years. 

The film is aimed at getting the conversation started on the future of the river. Panel discussions after each preview screening demonstrated the passion for the river from its headwaters to the lower Latrobe wetlands and how the community wants to be involved in a positive future.

Reflecting on a year of catchment achievements

West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is proud to report on achievements made for catchments, communities and wildlife in 2023 with the release of their Annual Report (PDF 4MB) recently tabled in Parliament.  

“We are extremely proud to continue to deliver environmental initiatives funded by the Victorian 
and Australian governments and acknowledge the support of Traditional Owners, partners and community,” said WGCMA Board Chair, Mikaela Power. 

“Partnerships have increased again this year and range from community groups and government agencies through to industry and commercial partners. All play a very significant role in caring for catchments.

“Together we achieved 178,339 hectares of weed control, 194 hectares of revegetation and vegetation enhancement and 9,744 hectares set to benefit from whole farm, irrigation and soil erosion management plans.” 

“In a year of many great results, a key highlight was the completion of work on a flagship South Gippsland waterway, the Agnes River and the removal the final willow from the system after 25 years of sustained effort. 

“Over the year we focused our efforts on delivering initiatives supported by both the state and Australian Governments such as works in Corner Inlet, on the flagship Agnes and Carran Carran (Thomson) Rivers, partnering for Alpine Peatlands and delivering sustainable irrigation programs,” said Mikaela. 

“Three key projects were completed as part of the National Landcare Program Regional Land Partnership Program including Alpine Peatlands Protection, Corner Inlet Connections and the Sustainable Agriculture Project. In addition to these projects, the program supports the Regional Agricultural Landcare Facilitator (RALF) position and the Indigenous Partnership Program.”  

In 2022-23, over 48,838 hectares were inspected which resulted in 169.25 hectares treated for weeds in Corner Inlet and over 1,730.34 hectares of weeds controlled in Alpine areas. Through the National Landcare Program, we continued the important partnership with Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation with On Country work in Corner Inlet and Alpine areas. 

“Another key highlight was delivering a remarkable flood recovery program arising from the significant storm and flood event that hit the region in June 2021.” 

Over the last two years, West Gippsland CMA has assessed flood damage and undertaken repair works across the catchment via a comprehensive flood recovery program that to date has achieved:

  • Planting 14,250 trees
  • Fencing 4.13 kilometres
  • Creating three waterway structures
  • Stabilising 7.31 kilometres of riverbanks at eight sites
  • Treating 214 hectares of weeds
  • Rock armouring of 3.98 kilometres of river banks.

Works along waterways focussed on creating wildlife habitat and building waterway resilience including:

  • Fencing 23 kilometres of priority waterways
  • Planting 62,500 trees over 88 hectares
  • Treating weeds over 209 hectares
  • Delivering 29,191 megalitres of water for the environment.

“We thank everyone for their ongoing support as we present this year’s achievements for West Gippsland’s catchment health that ultimately contributes to Gippsland’s wealth,” concluded Mikaela. 

Bryan Watterson by the banks of the Agnes River
Maffra and District Landcare volunte
Maffra and District Landcare volunteers
Filming underway for our 25-year video
Agnes Falls

Innovative dairy farmers pave way for a sustainable future

West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) in partnership with Agriculture Victoria is supporting four irrigators in central Gippsland to trial innovative irrigation and nutrient management practices that boost farm productivity while improving the environment. 

“We’re partnering with irrigators to help tackle some the region’s greatest challenges like maximising water use efficiency and improving nutrient management.” said Land Programs Coordinator with West Gippsland CMA, Anthony Goode. 

“These farmers are paving the way for sustainable irrigation by trialling technology that we hope will lead to better on-farm productivity, improved water quality in waterways and less greenhouse emissions from irrigated agriculture.”  

Currently underway, the four trial projects include the use of variable rate irrigation (VRI) technology to optimise irrigation, expanding dairy effluent application through a pipe and riser system, installing a self-cleaning effluent pump to reduce blockages in pivot irrigators and smart sprinkler controls powered by solar energy. 

Funding for the trial projects was provided through The Irrigation and Nutrient Management Demonstration Project, an initiative of the Victorian Government’s Sustainable Irrigation Program. 

Customising irrigation to suit a challenging terrain

James Clyne is trialling variable rate irrigation (VRI) technology to optimise water use and increase pasture on a dairy farm with challenging terrain. 

James’ 300 hectare farm at Newry features low-lying pockets of land that are prone to waterlogging, rendering them unproductive for pasture and potentially hazardous for the herd.

By installing VRI technology to an existing pivot irrigator, James can optimise irrigation to suit the varying terrain and soil profiles of his paddocks. This benefits his pasture and the health of the heard while also increasing water-use efficiency, reducing runoff and improving nutrient retention on the farm.

Maximising the benefits of dairy effluent to improve soil health

Jess and Steven Knight, irrigation dairy farmers from Llowalong, are trialling the use of a pipe and riser irrigation system to increase the distribution of nutrient-rich dairy effluent on their pasture.  

Traditionally, effluent from the herd was disposed of via an open channel leading into one small paddock close to the dairy. With the pipe and riser system, dairy effluent can be applied across a larger area, providing benefits to the soil normally achieved with synthetic fertiliser.  

Saving time and boosting soil health with self-cleaning technology

Ineffective filtration systems are a bug-bear of many spray irrigators because they block easily, preventing the valuable nutrients in effluent from reaching the soil.   

Tinamba dairy farmer Tom Gannon is trialling a self-cleaning effluent pump to increase the effectiveness of dairy effluent application through a pivot irrigator. 

Tom hopes the self-cleaning pump will result in less time spent cleaning the filtration system and more effluent flowing through the pivot irrigator onto his pastures. 

Using smart technology to maximise solar powered irrigation

Organic dairy farmers Wilco Droppert and Sandra Jefford are trialling an automated solar-powered fixed sprinkler irrigation system at their Clydebank property to reduce energy consumption and save water. 

While powering irrigation from the sun is not new, the approach being trialled by Wilco and Sandra aims to maximise the use of solar while it’s being generated with smart controllers that adjust sprinklers based on energy demand and availability. 

All four trials are due for completion in mid-2024 and outcomes and learnings will be shared through our Irrigation Extension Program. 

For more information about these trials or other landholder partnership programs, contact Anthony Goode, Land Programs Coordinator, at anthonyg@wgcma.vic.gov.au

Sign up to Catchment Snapshot to keep in touch.

You can listen to Sandra Jefford talk climate change on this episode of the Gippslandscapes podcast.