World Wetlands Day is the perfect time to illustrate how Greening Australia, The Arthur Rylah Institute, East and West Gippsland Catchment Management Authorities and the State Government are helping to protect the species that call the Gippsland Lakes home.
The Gippsland Lakes are globally precious with more than 600 square kilometres of natural lakes and wetlands, home to native and migratory birds, amphibian and fish species.
Greening Australia’s Gippsland Manager, Martin Potts says the Gippsland Lakes are Australia’s largest permanent inland wetlands and lakes system, they are vital but need to be well cared for.
“Over the last two hundred years, drought, declining environmental flows, increasing salinity and declining habitat has resulted in the Gippsland Lakes fringing wetlands undergoing local species loss, which has resulted in fragmentation and isolation of the remaining plants and animals.
A nationally endangered Growling Grass Frog
“Many species are no longer able to migrate to new habitat when local conditions become unsuitable, and similarly when a disturbance event occurs it is difficult for them to move.
“Climate change will add additional pressure to remaining plants and as the flooding and drying cycles of wetlands changes.
“Basically we are in danger of being left with species being isolated in unconnected refuges.” Mr Potts said.
He said work on a large wetland restoration demonstration project has started with saline water being drained so it can be refilled with fresh.
Mr Potts said unfortunately many of the Gippsland Lakes wetlands are turning estuarine in key areas. “The demonstration sites, research and modeling will tell us where our effort will be most effective in stopping the estuarine trend and providing refuges for threatened species.
“Over the coming years, careful management of the Gippsland Lakes and surrounding wetlands will be needed to protect and connect threatened species.” Mr Potts said.
Red capped plovers, Red necked stints & sharp tailed sandpipers.
He said a new project, made possible by funding from the Victorian State Government for the Gippsland Lakes, will deliver a management plan and report for the Gippsland Lakes wetlands and provide on-ground works of over 100ha showcasing examples of fringing wetland management.
The management plan will help guide where work needs to be carried out to make the biggest conservation outcomes.
It will also improve understanding of the landscape-scale implications of climate change for the maintenance of the ecological character of the Gippsland Lakes Ramsar site and how this can be incorporated into investment decisions.
Greening Australia and both the East and West Gippsland Catchment Management Authorities have joined forces to work together to help maintain and restore the fringing wetlands.