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20 September 2021

Mallee CMA to start ecological monitoring program at VMFRP sites

Mallee Catchment Management Authority (Mallee CMA) will soon be starting an ecological monitoring program to support the Victorian Murray Floodplain Restoration Project (VMFRP).

Seven sites have been targeted for restoration in the Mallee, including:

  • Lindsay Island
  • Wallpolla Island
  • Hattah Lakes North
  • Belsar-Yungera
  • Burra Creek
  • Nyah
  • Vinifera.

These locations have been chosen for their high conservation value wetlands and floodplains, such as Lake Walla Walla in Murray Sunset National Park, and the diverse range of plants and animals they sustain.

More information about the work proposed at these sites is available on our projects page.

Objectives have been set for key ecological themes, including vegetation, health, birds, fish, frogs, carbon, and water flows. Monitoring for these objectives helps site managers keep an eye on the health of the floodplain and informs decisions about future watering and land management activities at the site.

Terrestrial flora survey at Wallpolla Island (Photo: Zoe Jellie, GHD)

To provide site managers with the information they need, an ecological monitoring program has been established and will begin shortly. This monitoring involves scientists visiting the sites and recording data about the ecological themes.

For example, the relationship between floodplain watering and the response from waterbirds is well understood. Objectives for waterbird abundance and breeding have been identified for wetlands at each site. To monitor whether these objectives are being met, scientists will visit selected locations at each site and record the number of species present, evidence of breeding and how much time each species spends feeding.

Monitoring allows us to see changes at each site and adaptively change watering and land management practices to appropriately respond.

The VMFRP watering infrastructure is planned to be operational by 2024 (pending government approvals). It is important to start this ecological monitoring now, so we can collect a few years of baseline data before we start watering the sites. This information will help us understand the health of the floodplains before and after VMFRP watering begins.

In 2021, Mallee CMA engaged a number of contractors to complete ecological monitoring. Works will begin in late September and will involve short periods of monitoring through to Autumn 2022.

The two remaining VMFRP sites (Guttrum and Benwell Forests and Gunbower National Park) are being monitored by North Central Catchment Management Authority. Ecological monitoring began at these sites in Autumn 2021.

Proposed flora and fauna survey sites