Boatload of plants for island sanctuary

Greening Australia’s Joe Meadham and Shire of Murray’s Ross Rose ferrying plants to the island in a tinny. Photo: Jesse Collins at JCFilmBox.

More than 2,500 native plant seedlings have been added to Jeegarnyeejip Island, part of the Murray Delta Islands Class A Nature Reserve in South Yunderup WA, thanks to Alcoa Foundation funding.

Part of the Ramsar-listed Peel-Harvey Estuary, Jeegarnyeejip Island is an important sanctuary for migratory birds, some of which travel all the way from Siberia to breed.

“We don’t often need to plan a boating trip alongside a planting day, but that separation from the mainland is exactly why it’s such a haven for native wildlife, away from predators like feral cats and foxes,” explained Greening Australia’s Ruth Cripps.

“This is also one of few islands in the delta that is uninhabited, so protection and management of the unique environment here has been highly successful. However, some parts of the island are quite degraded, and this year’s work will help to stabilise the sandy soil and aid in weed suppression.”

Setting up for the planting day required multiple trips in a tinny by Greening Australia and Shire of Murray staff, to transport all the seedlings and tools across.

Island planters L-R: Shire of Murray staff Tom Lerner, Gemma Iseppi and Ross Rose with Greening Australia staff Joseph Meadham and Ruth Cripps. Photo: Jesse Collins at JCFilmBox.

The planting on Jeegarnyeejip Island is one of many occurring along the Harvey, Serpentine and Murray rivers this winter through the Alcoa Foundation-funded Three Rivers One Estuary Initiative with Greening Australia. In total this year, this partnership will plant nearly 16,000 seedlings in priority revegetation areas along the three rivers. By the end of the three-year partnership in October, more than 42,000 seedlings will have been planted in these important areas.

Plantings are designed to provide habitat to local fauna, stabilise embankments, increase biodiversity, filter runoff and cool water temperatures to improve the health of these river systems.

According to Shire of Murray President Cr. David Bolt, the Shire is always obliging in supporting Greening Australia and Alcoa’s efforts: “A community priority and focus area of the Shire especially over the next ten years, is the protection and enhancement of our environment and it is through collaboration with our community and stakeholders such as Greening Australia and Alcoa, that we will be most effective in the achievement of this feat. Our collaborative efforts with Greening Australia and Alcoa contribute significantly to improving the health of our environment.”

Alcoa Corporate Affairs Director Jodie Read said the company was proud of the important environmental work it was supporting through this partnership with Greening Australia and of its long running association with the organisation, which dates back more than 37 years.

The new seedlings on the island will help stabilise the soil and outcompete weeds. Photo: Jesse Collins at JCFilmBox.

Besides the role Jeegarnyeejip Island plays as a refuge for wildlife, it is also home to a threatened ecological community containing the native salt-tolerant succulent, Samphire (Tecticornia sp.).

The tree-planters were treated to a wildlife show as they worked, spotting dolphins, pelicans, osprey, black swans, and spoonbills.
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