Combined effort to improve wetland

Bring it back: Three Victorian Government agencies are working together to rehabilitate Johnson’s Swamp so it can better support waterbird breeding.

Floods in 2010-11 brought unwanted plants to Johnson’s Swamp and agencies are taking action.

The wetland is part of the Kerang Lakes complex, which is recognised as an important habitat for waterbirds under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.

“Lignum and tall marshy reeds are encroaching significantly on the wetland, so it’s time to take action,” North Central Catchment Management Authority’s Peter O’Toole said.

“The vegetation is limiting the amount of open water and out-competing other aquatic plants that contribute to overall biodiversity and wetland health.

“Ensuring there is space and resources for waterbirds to feed and breed is a key part of the management of the wetland.

“And the community, including local Traditional Owners, want to see more open space on the wetland for birds such as brolgas, pelicans, black swans and dabbling ducks.”

North Central CMA, Parks Victoria and the Arthur Rylah Institute have been working on a plan to fix the problem, with works starting in late April.

“The first step will be slashing and poisoning about 20 hectares of the lignum and reeds. Then we will start to deliver about 1500 megalitres of water for the environment,” Mr O’Toole said.

“The partial fill will drown the lignum and reeds and will prime the wetland for a full fill in spring. That will allow other types of aquatic vegetation such as eel grass and milfoil to grow, creating the right conditions for the waterbirds that are so important to this community.

“The flow will also help the frogs and turtles over winter and spring.”