Long Swamp Restoration Trial Update – If you thought the sandbagging was over… think again!

Long Swamp Restoration Trial Update – If you thought the sandbagging was over… think again!

Last week, a small crew of NGT staff and volunteers, and the fantastic Friends of the Great SW Walk, led by Gordon Page, joined us down at Long Swamp to undertake our first ‘tweak’ of the level of the structure at Nobles Rocks since it was completed back in April.

Using the ‘intelligence’ (ie. elevation data) that Lachie and I gathered out in the swamp a few weeks back, the plan was set. Definitely one, but possibly two more layers of bags would be required to reach our target level for the structure for the rest of the trial period this spring. It turns out we are literally within centimetres now of influencing flows back towards Eel Creek, the wetlands of central and lower Long Swamp, and ultimately the Glenelg River estuary.

And thankfully our volunteers weren’t put off from coming back for one more day!

The August 2105 – “top up crew” – a very efficient and motivated team!

The benefit of the trial structure and this method of adaptive restoration is that we can make this type of adjustment in real time, learning and responding as we proceed. And we certainly are learning a thing or two, as every wetland restoration project we undertake is quite different.

Out in the swamp, the rapid transformation is continuing apace, including the reversal of the process of terrestrialisation (or shrubbing up, caused by the drying trend) that was threatening the swamp in some places. Not to mention the floating aquatic reedbeds of Water Ribbons (Triglochin procerum), re-appearing from what were sedgelands just last year!

The Growling Grass Frogs and Yarra Pygmy Perch haven’t found their way back here yet, but the floating aquatic reedbeds favoured by these species are rapidly reforming in the restored areas of deeper water (50-70 cm deep) in the swamp inland of Nobles Rocks. The long-term reduction in the availability of this habitat within Long Swamp was a threatening process for these species that the trial is directly addressing. Hopefully it is just a matter of time before these species make their way into this area from other parts of Long Swamp, in the isolated areas where they still occur.

A massive thanks to our helpers last week, for what may turn out to be the final day of sandbagging at Long Swamp, where we have now hit the 7000 sandbag mark – a phenomenal effort from all concerned. As always, we’ll keep you informed about how the story unfolds over the months ahead…

The structure, as it appeared on the 12th of August.

…and the same view after completion of the ‘top up’ sandbagging effort on the 27th of August.

Mark Bachmann