Turtle

Drought Refuge for Waterbirds at Reedy Swamp

Monday 9 November, 2009
Reedy Swamp is continuing to provide significant drought refuge for waterbirds, thanks to a recent allocation of water.

Reedy Swamp is continuing to provide significant drought refuge for waterbirds, thanks to a recent allocation of water.

Reedy Swamp, a significant 130ha wetland in the Goulburn Broken catchment, is receiving 100 megalitres of water under the Victorian environmental watering program, which is working to keep strategic sites alive in the extremely dry State. It will be delivered over a few weeks, finishing in late November.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority Environmental Water Reserve Manager, Keith Ward, said the water was from a Victorian environmental entitlement - water legally set aside to protect rivers and wetlands. Using it does not affect anybody else's water allocations.

"The environmental water will reduce the rate of wetland drying, providing drought refuge for a range of plants and animals, especially waterbirds," Mr Ward said.

"It will particularly encourage waterbirds to successfully complete their current breeding attempts, and also provide somewhere for the adults and young to rest and feed."

Waterbirds are in serious decline in south-eastern Australia. In an average year there are about 500,000 waterbirds in the area. In 2007, this had dropped to 160,000. Their homes are also under threat, with the amount of wetland habitat in south-eastern Australia decreasing from an average of 300,000ha to 100,000ha by 2007. Current studies are showing further decreases.

"Significant benefits have resulted from past applications of environmental water to the wetland. Particularly encouraging has been the finding of a number of rare and threatened species utilising the wetland, including some that have bred. Many of these continue to live in the wetland and hence exhibit a major benefit from a relatively small volume of water."

Mr Ward said Reedy Swamp was an important part of the State's environmental watering program, because of its ability to hold water for long periods, providing drought refuge for a diverse community of waterbirds in a largely dry region. The site will later be permitted to experience a natural drawdown through late summer and autumn.

For more information contact:

Keith Ward on (03) 5820 1100

Victoria's environmental watering program is a collaborative effort. It is overseen by the Department of Sustainability and Environment and involves catchment management authorities, Parks Victoria and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. Catchment management authorities manage the delivery of the water.