Barmah Forest and The Living Murray Program

The biggest ecosystem of its type in the world, the Barmah–Millewa Forest is the largest river red gum forest in Australia, covering 66,000 hectares of floodplain between Tocumwal, Deniliquin and Echuca. The Barmah-Millewa Forest is one of six “icon sites” of The Living Murray program managed by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

The Barmah-Millewa Forest (source:  MDBA)

About The Living Murray

The Living Murray is Australia's most significant river restoration program. It aims to achieve a healthy working River Murray system for the benefit of all Australians. This includes returning water to the river's environment.

The Living Murray focuses on improving the environment at six 'icon sites' along the Murray River. These icon sites were chosen for their high ecological value - most are listed as internationally significant wetlands under the Ramsar convention - and also for their cultural significance to Indigenous people and the broader community.

External Links:

Ramsar convention

Murray-Darling Basin Authority: The Living Murray Program  

MDBA video: Barmah-Millewa Forest Icon Site - watering the largest river red gum forest in the world

About Barmah Forest

 Barmah Forest is River Red Gum dominated floodplain covering approximately 28,500 hectares. Many threatened native plants, birds, fish and reptiles make this forest and its wetlands their home. Spring floods keep river red gums healthy and allow waterbirds to breed and raise their young. It is also an important habitat for native fish.

The majority of Barmah Forest is National Park (Barmah National Park) and is managed by Parks Victoria. Current information can be found on the Parks Victoria Barmah National Park page, such as access to visitor sites and road closures. The Barmah Forest Heritage and Education Centre in Nathalia provides visitors to the region with a look into the Indigenous and European history of Barmah Forest, as well as its flora and fauna. It is located adjacent to the Parks Victoria office in Nathalia and is a great stop for information before visiting the forest.

External Links:

Parks Victoria

Barmah Forest Heritage and Education Centre

Goulburn Broken CMA and Barmah Forest

The Goulburn Broken CMA plays an important role in water management for Barmah Forest. Our role involves planning, monitoring and reporting on water related outcomes, including the use of environmental water.

Water management planning is focussed on protecting and enhancing the ecological values of Barmah Forest. The majority of Barmah Forest actively floods during high flows in the Murray River as a result of the main river channel narrowing at this point (the Barmah Choke). The forest contains many wetlands including Moira Grass plains that support native plants and animals, as well as extensive River Red Gum forest and woodland. Flooding is vital for the ongoing health of these environments and the native species they support.

Environmental water is available to use in Barmah and Millewa forests from a designated account (Barmah-Millewa Environmental Water Allocation) and is held by the Victorian Environmental Water Holder. On occasions, water managed by The Living Murray program, the New South Wales government and the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder can also be delivered for the benefit of Barmah-Millewa Forest.

Water management is guided by an Environmental Water Management Plan, developed for Barmah-Millewa Forest as part of its “icon site” status. This overarching plan leads into annual water management proposals and planning that guides specific water management actions for the upcoming (financial) year.

External Links:

Murray-Darling Basin Authority: Barmah-Millewa Environmental Water Management Plan

Victorian Environmental Water Holder

Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder

In partnership with a broad range of agencies and contractors, the Goulburn Broken CMA undertakes various monitoring activities, primarily to provide advice that informs water management as it is occurring. This on-ground information is critical to ensuring that water management actions are achieving their environmental objectives.


Wetlands in Barmah Forest support a mosaic of different species of vegetation and open water, offering feeding and breeding habitat for fish, birds, frogs, turtles and other fauna.

The Goulburn Broken CMA takes the lead role in reporting on the broad range of water management activities, ecological monitoring and research undertaken in Barmah and Millewa forests each year, through the Barmah-Millewa Forest Annual Report. 

The Living Murray Barmah-Millewa Forest Icon Site Annual Report 2010-2011  (PDF FILE 3.25MB)

The Living Murray Barmah-Millewa Forest Icon Site Annual Synthesis Report 2011-12

Managing the aquatic weed cabomba is an important part of maintaining the health of Barmah. Read more here.