Vandals put Black Swamp plants and animals at risk

Native plants that provide valuable food and shelter for animals and birds, including some threatened species, have died as a result of vandals damaging the regulator that controls water flow in to Black Swamp near Wunghnu.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) Wetlands Project Officer Jo Wood said it was disappointing the regulator was forced open and damaged, flooding the wetland.

“As well as putting themselves at risk of injury, whoever did this has let in water, which should have been going to water users such as farmers, into Black Swamp at the time of the year when we plan for it to dry out,” Ms Wood said.

“A period of dry is a natural and important part of keeping wetlands healthy. During this drying phase, some plants will become dormant, while others, such as river red gums establish. The exposed plants attract insects and provide food and shelter for birds and other animals.

“By flooding the plants now, many of the grasses, sedges and saplings that had established after environmental water was delivered to the site last spring have been drowned. Weeds are also more likely to spread as result of water being let in to the swamp now when it’s meant to be going through a drying phase.”

Ms Wood said birds not seen for some time, including eastern great egrets and magpie geese, had recently been spotted at Black Swamp. The nationally endangered Australian painted snipe was also recorded for the first time at the swamp this year.

“The birds have been attracted by the good feeding habitat that has flourished in response to the more natural wetting and drying patterns that have been developed through carefully managing the timing of deliveries of environmental water to the wetland,” she said.

“It’s shame that that the actions of a thoughtless few could put the work that’s gone into improving the health of this important wetland, at risk.”

Environmental water deliveries to Black Swamp are planned by the Goulburn Broken CMA and managed by Goulburn-Murray Water in line with the Victorian Environmental Water Holder’s Seasonal Watering Plan 2015-16.

The Seasonal Watering Plan 2015-16 is available here.