National Award recognises community contribution to the Walker Swamp Restoration Reserve

Nature Glenelg Trust has been nationally recognised for its successful cooperative approach to wetland restoration on the Wannon River Floodplain, winning the ‘Involving Community in Waterway Management Award’ at the River Basin Management Society biannual awards recently.

Greg receiving the ‘Involving Community in Waterway Management Award’ at the River Basin Management Society biannual awards night in Melbourne.

The restoration of Walker Swamp has come about as a result of the efforts of many people within Nature Glenelg Trust and an even larger number of community members, traditional owners, volunteers and philanthropists in the local and regional area, as well as local government and non-government environmental organisations including the Glenelg Hopkins CMA and the Hamilton Field Naturalists Club.

This national award is a great acknowledgement of the tremendous collective efforts, expertise and passion that has been contributed by everyone involved over the last three years.

A recent estimate valued the total volunteer contribution at Walker Swamp in the last 18 months at over $300,000 worth of in-kind voluntary assistance. To give everyone an understanding of the scale and diversity of contributions…

  • Fifteen volunteers contributed 190 hours of labour to build a permanent regulator at Walker Swamp earlier this year.
  • Of these, 12 people spent two days filling, moving and placing 2,500 sandbags.
  • Two skilled (professionally trained) volunteers with appropriate technical expertise helped with the survey and regulator design and another local supporter sourced and manually placed several tonnes of free blue stone for the spillway.
  • In the last year alone, volunteers have contributed 2,560 hours of physical labour to Walker Swamp, building the regulator, fences and bird hide tower, spraying coppicing blue gums and conducting biodiversity surveys.
  • Four volunteers have contributed over 190 hours of fence line clearing, fence repair and fence construction.

Invaluable – The contribution of volunteers. Mid way into the first day of regulator construction and there are still some smiles.

Sharing knowledge has also been a significant part of this story …

  • Thirty-two volunteers participated in a ten-week Bird Identification and Monitoring Course held in Dunkeld (888 volunteer hours) and will contribute to ongoing monitoring at Walker Swamp.
  • Regular bird monitoring has been undertaken by members of the Hamilton Field Naturalists and Birdlife Hamilton over the last three years. These clubs have organised four additional club trips for tours of the reserve in the last two years.
  • The Friends of the Grampians Garriwerd NP have organised a field trip to the WSRR and the recent opening of the bird hide tower attracted 25 naturalists from across the region.
  • NGT have been working with the Martang Aboriginal family and Eastern Maar community in assessing local cultural and natural values of the area. Following three all-day on-site visits we are working with the Eastern Maar to further engage with traditional owners and to build connections with the land.

The interest shown by local schools in the restoration of the wetland complex has resulted in some important contributions by students. NGT are currently working with three local schools (primary and secondary) to contribute to learning opportunities and program development involving the Reserve, including on-site activities such as routine monitoring (e.g. revegetation success, bird monitoring, invertebrate sampling and wetland condition) and revegetation programs.

People power and passion have been crucial in this very ambitious restoration project and together this has created the foundations for a long-lasting legacy of people connecting with this special place.

Greg Kerr
Greg Kerr
greg.kerr@natureglenelg.org.au