A quick glimpse of the latest works (and early results) in the Mount Burr Swamp Stage II restoration area – completed in the nick of time!

As a follow-up to Bryan’s fantastic video tour last month, this month we’ll take a really quick glimpse of the recently completed works in the Mount Burr Swamp Stage II Restoration area. These works were implemented over a 6 week period between April and June of this year, thanks to the key support of the Limestone Coast Landscape Board and other funding partners. Because we’re a bit short of time to do the full story justice this month, a more complete overview will be shared over the months ahead – but in the meantime, here is a teaser of things to come!

In short, the job involved backfilling a complex network of drains which extended through the sandy rises separating each of the peaty depressions situated across this patchwork of former swamps, heath and heathy woodlands. As we’ve talked about a lot over the years, it is critical that the restoration process for any area that includes wetlands is done in the right order, which means addressing any modifications to hydrology first. Once we get this underlying ecological driver fixed and back in place, we can incorporate the other ecological ingredients into the mix over the years ahead, and our approach can then be tailored depending on what degree of natural recovery is taking place.

The drain backfilling process underway in the Mt Burr Swamp Stage II restoration works area. Photo: Mark Bachmann

By the way, to give you a glimpse of why the works were completed in a ‘nick of time’ this year, the images below will help to tell the story!

Within literally days of the excavator leaving the site, what began as a good ‘early break’ in May gave way to a full-blown ‘big wet’ in June to start off the winter, rapidly inundating all of the restored wetlands to be full and overflowing. In fact, it turns out that a number of places in the region broke records for June rainfall, as we barely saw the sun for several weeks and it rained almost every day. Yes, a bit bleak for us humans, but an incredible start for a freshly restored and recovering wetland.

These spectacular before and after images say it all really!

BEFORE: Looking east over the Mt Burr Swamp Stage II restoration area, in April 2023, just before restoration works commenced. Photo: Mark Bachmann
AFTER: Looking east over the Mt Burr Swamp Stage II restoration area, in July 2023, a month after restoration works were completed. Photo: Mark Bachmann

Oh and finally, in case you are wondering, the wildlife haven’t taken long to let us know that they are happy about the change in conditions too. So far I have seen a group of five Brolga wandering around checking out the new habitat, and while wading through the wetland in the foreground above, I also inadvertently flushed an Australasian Bittern that had already moved in – noting that this part of the restored wetland was being grazed by livestock until only a couple of months ago.

Needless to say, there is more to come on this exciting and newly unfolding story of ecological recovery, so stay tuned!

The project was supported by the Limestone Coast Landscape Board, through funding from the South Australian Government’s Landscape Priorities Fund and the Australian Government’s National Water Grid Connections Funding Pathway.

Mark Bachmann