A large crowd of about 55 community members packed out the Port MacDonnell Community Complex last Thursday evening, the 26th May, to learn about our region’s unique Karst Rising Springs (KRS).
Speakers Mark Bachmann and Nick Whiterod tag-teamed to first present the history, background, and current challenges facing these unique ecosystems. Attendees heard that wetlands once covered much of the South East and connectivity between coastal freshwater spring-fed wetlands was once much greater than it is today. Many people were fascinated by the history of land reclamation in the lower South East, in particular for soldier settler blocks post World War II, which involved the laborious task of demolishing tea-tree scrub and cutting a complex drainage network.
Despite the environment now being highly modified all is not lost! Both speakers stressed that the remaining spring pools, drains, and wetlands all provide highly valuable habitat for diverse and unique species, including threatened species such as the Glenelg Spiny Crayfish or Pricklyback, and Yarra Pygmy Perch. Additionally, while it is not possible to reinstate the full former extent of the coastal wetlands, Mark provided several examples of wetland restoration of varying scales to illustrate the incredible results that can be achieved (for example, you can read about the restoration journey of Pick Swamp here).
Before the public session in the evening, stakeholders including natural resource management staff and local landholders, met to discuss a regional KRS action plan which is currently under development.
Also earlier in the day, Mark visited Allendale East Area School and spoke to a group of about 70 students from Years 2 to 10 about the special fauna that live in and around these wetlands. The kids particularly enjoyed a chance to see and feel a stuffed Swamp Antechinus!
Despite the challenges facing this ecosystem, yesterday’s events have proven our community’s interest in and commitment to improving the condition of these unique environmental assets.
Thank you to our speakers Mark and Nick, to all those who attended the planning workshop and evening session, and Allendale East Area School and Port MacDonnell Community Complex for hosting us.