Cobrico Swamp and the importance of keeping peat wetlands wet

Some time ago I began corresponding with Kirsty Hawkes, a natural sciences writer and communicator, about peat wetlands. She had been given the task of gathering and telling stories on different community perspectives of the St. Patrick’s Day fires of March 2018 in south-west Victoria, which set alight the drained peat of Cobrico Swamp. The peat fire burned for seven weeks and presented massive logistical, health and environmental challenges.

Kirsty very kindly forwarded me a copy of the finished product – called “Devastation to Restoration” – and you can download and read the full finished booklet here. It is well worth a read for the range of insights it provides: lessons learned that can be applied elsewhere.

The final story in the booklet is one I have decided to specifically share below, aptly called “For Peat’s Sake – The Necessity of Keeping Cobrico Wetland Wet“.

We don’t have a lot of peatlands in Australia, but in a drained state these areas punch above their weight – by area, contributing a disproportionate amount of our land based carbon emissions. Given that they don’t take up a lot of space and we know how to restore them (through reversal of artificial drainage and rewetting), a bit of foresight, planning and investment could go a long way to making a big difference. First of all, we need to make people aware of this important issue – so thanks to Kirsty and the Heytesbury District Landcare Network for putting together this valuable resource.

If you are interested to restore the hydrology of your peat wetland and at the same time trigger the spectacular process of biodiversity recovery, then feel free to send us an email and we’ll do what we can to help:


Mark Bachmann