On 59 hectares of land in Victoria, between the Don River and Yarra River, sits Haining Farm – a site perfect to restore primate habitat for wetland loving animals. The farm will also provide an opportunity for visitors to engage with nature and experience native wildlife in their natural habitat. This project is a collaboration between Greening Australia, Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and made possible through funding from Zoos Victoria.
Limited amount of suitable habitat has been identified as a major threat to the survival of both the Helmeted Honeyeater and Lowland Leadbeater’s Possum. However, due to their similar habitat requirements – riparian and swamp habitat – we have been able to determine a solution to benefit both species.
We have worked with a range of experts to understand the food webs, housing requirements and behavioural traits of the Helmeted Honeyeater and Lowland Leadbeater’s Possum. These animals build their homes in uniquely dense riparian habitat, and both their habitat and food webs are driven by the flooding and drying cycles of rivers, wetlands and seasonal soaks.
Due to this reliance on rivers and wetlands, we have started a hydrological restoration of the landscape to improve water quality on the site, and as an opportunity to test our methods. This has included the construction of an ephemeral wetland.
A manmade shallow pond that is densely planted, which helps filter water – providing a natural way to remove pollutants before they flow into our waterways. Vegetation is an essential part of a wetland – not only to provide food and habitat for animals but it captures fine particles and pollutants which are attached to sediment.
Ephemeral wetlands are only wet seasonally – they periodically dry up in summer or in periods of drought. The temporary nature of this wetland is an essential part of restoring habitat for the Helmeted Honeyeater and Lowland Leadbeater’s Possum as the changes in water level support the distribution of specific vegetation communities, which provide habitat and food resources. These vegetation communities are all dependent on the presence of water at varying intervals and depths to drive their recruitment, flowering, competitive interactions and condition.
The Helmeted Honeyeater and Lowland Leadbeater’s Possum will be introduced to the site in the future, with Zoos Victoria surveying and monitoring them.