Ibis

Barmah plan a boost for fragile forest

Thursday 11 April, 2019
Controlling feral animals in Barmah National Park is critical to the long-term health of the park’s internationally recognised wetlands says Goulburn Broken CMA CEO Chris Norman.

“That’s why we support the actions detailed in the draft four-year strategic plan released by Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio last week,” Mr Norman said.

The Strategic Action Plan: Protection of floodplain marshes in Barmah National Park and Barmah Forest Ramsar site (2019-2023) sets out range of actions to protect and improve the health of the wetlands including managing water deliveries and weeds and controlling the impacts of feral horses, pigs, deer and goats.

“We have been working with the park’s managers Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation and Parks Victoria and the community for many years now to improve the extent of threatened plants such as Moira grass and river swamp wallaby-grass,” Mr Norman said.

“This vegetation provides critical habitat for frogs, reptiles, native fish and birds. Many of these species, such as bitterns and superb parrots, are also threatened. One of the key threats to the wetlands are introduced animals, particularly the 500-plus feral horses who graze and trample native grasses. The proposal to reduce the feral horse population down to around 100 animals by 2023 and in the long-term, completely, will go a long way to reducing the impact of introduced animals on native wildlife and the landscape.”

He said the plan would also provide additional support for work already under way to control invasive weeds and other feral animals.

“The plan’s provision for more resources to manage and monitor watering regimes in the forest is also good news. We share the community’s concerns about the volume and timing of water deliveries to meet downstream Murray River irrigator, environmental and community demand and the impact this is having on the river banks, the forest and water bird and fish breeding.”

Development of the draft plan involved extensive consultation with Traditional Owners, community representatives, government agencies and scientists.

“We’re keen to see the area’s rich cultural and environmental values protected and improved for future generations to enjoy and appreciate, which is why we’re encouraging the community to review the draft plan and provide feedback,” Mr Norman said.

The draft plan can be accessed at http://www.engage.vic.gov.au/barmah-strategic-action-plan. People have until May 30 to provide feedback.