Brady and Gooseneck Swamp Restoration Update
From Adam Miller –
For those of you that are up to speed with NGT’s current activities you will know that we are in the process of completing a major wetland restoration project in the lower reaches of the Grampians National Park. We have partnered with private-land owners and users, Parks Victoria and the local Catchment Management Authority to restore the hydrology of Brady and Gooseneck swamps (almost 1000 hectares collectively) after being drained and grazed. Following the construction of trial sand bag structures in the drains we are now in the process of backfilling the cuttings and restoring the natural contours of the landscape. The earthworks mean that these systems will now hold surface water longer throughout the year and can only overflow via the natural watercourse. These actions are expected to provide immediate benefits for the local wildlife and also assist in buffering flooding events downstream along the Wannon River during high rainfall events.
As part of this project, comprehensive biodiversity surveys are being undertaken to gain an appreciation for the plants and animals of these systems and their responses to the restoration works through time. These surveys have already led to some interesting discoveries, only one year in! Thanks to Rod Bird and the Hamilton Field Naturalists, we now have a comprehensive list of bird species that visit these wetlands throughout the year. So far more than 100 bird species have been recorded, including some significant finds of brolga, glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), red-necked avocet (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae), and Latham’s snipe (Gallinago hardwickii).
Surveys of aquatic fauna have also turned up many species of fish, crayfish and frogs, including the nationally threatened dwarf galaxias (Galaxiella pusilla) and growling grass frog (Litoria raniformis), and the state listed western swamp crayfish (Gramastacus insolitus). The data from vegetation surveys are still in the process of being analysed, however both aquatic and terrestrial communities are highly diverse and include a number of rare species including the critically endangered Wimmera bottlebrush (Callistemon wimmerensis), endangered slender bitter-cress (Cardamine tenuifolia) and showy lobelia (Lobelia beaugleholei) and rare swamp lilly (Ottelia ovalifolia). The ecological vegetation communities themselves are also quite rare, with the critically endangered Shrubby Woodland, endangered Plains Sedgy Woodland and rare River Red Gum Woodland all occurring within the system.
The surveys have been designed to allow us to carry out replicate sampling across years and will provide important insights into demographic responses of wetland species to the restoration works. The results so far indicate the biodiverse nature of these systems, and in combination with the scale of these large wetlands, emphasize the critical role that these systems will play as both rufugia and for connecting habitat into the future. We are committed to wide reaching projects, that promote the health of these unique and threatened ecosystems by approaching management at a landscape scale. If you are interested in the restoration process and/or would like to participate in our program please contact Adam Miller or Lachlan Farrington.