NGT wins the 2018 SERA National Award for Restoration Excellence

On Thursday the 27th of September 2018, I was asked to join the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia (SERA) at their biennial conference dinner and awards ceremony in Brisbane.

After a series of other National Awards were announced, it was down to the last category – the SERA Award for Restoration Excellence (for large-scale projects) – and an incredible field of 16 diverse restoration projects from all around Australia were in the running. Then it was announced that due to the quality of these projects, the judges had split the prize and awarded joint winners in 2018.

Brisbane, 27th of September 2018. Hank Bower (far left) – Lord Howe Island Restoration Project and Mark Bachmann (far right) – Long Swamp Restoration Project, presented as joint winners of the 2018 SERA Award for Restoration Excellence by Professor Kingsley Dixon (centre left) and Dr Tein McDonald (centre right).

Firstly it was announced that the Lord Howe Island Restoration Project, was a worthy joint winner of the top prize this year (see here for information about the planned eradication of rodents). This World Heritage Listed site is a magnificent island with unique ecology, but crucially is of a scale where eradication of invasive species has been able to be pursued as a realistic restoration goal – with great success so far. To learn more about the project, check out this RegenTV presentation from 2016 that gives an excellent summary.

Then – in some tremendous news for our region and for building the national profile of wetland restoration – it was announced that Nature Glenelg Trust was the other joint winner of the national prize this year, for our work with the community over the past 5 years to restore the hydrology of Long Swamp in Discovery Bay Coastal Park. As readers of our blogs will be aware, Long Swamp is now part of Australia’s 66th and newest Ramsar site (Glenelg Estuary and Discovery Bay), and is recognised as a wetland of international importance. If you would like to learn more about the detail of the project at Long Swamp and the other wetlands of Discovery Bay, then you can view this talk from 2016, also found on RegenTV.

As well as the trophy and certificate (shown in the photo above), the Lord Howe Island Board and Nature Glenelg Trust also received a half-share of the $3000 prize. I am pleased to announce that our half share of $1500 has been put towards NGT’s next major restoration project, contributing to our fundraiser at Walker Swamp.

A very big thanks to the Glenelg Hopkins CMA for producing a short video earlier this year about the restoration project which was released at the time of the Ramsar announcement. As a result of having this available, we were able to trim down and slightly modify the original version (at very short notice!) to present a brief summary that conference delegates saw at the dinner to illustrate what the project has been all about. You can view that short summary below.

Finally, thanks to SERA for this unexpected, very generous recognition of our work at Long Swamp, and also to our project partners for their ongoing support – which, thanks to a recent funding announcement by the Victorian Government, will now see the trial structure converted to a permanently reinstated sand dune in 2019. As well as the Glenelg Hopkins CMA, our other major project partners are the land manager Parks Victoria, Nelson Coast Care, DELWP, Gunditj Mirring TOC, and the Friends of the Great South West Walk.

Mark Bachmann