• Inga

Good News for a Change: Plantation Changed Back Into Wetlands 🎥

The impacts of Climate Change, due to human activity, is already evident in many parts of the world. We see the changing weather patterns: with monster storms, floods, unusual heat-waves and so on. Climate change includes both the global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases, and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change

Unfortunately recent global assessments of biological diversity and climate change indicate negative trends and a rapidly narrowing window for action to reverse these trends.

What are the causes of destruction of the environment?

One of the major causes is the land disturbance and land damage for plantation purposes/farming.


That is why the author would like to share a “Good News” story; where in Australia Ecologists buy a 1000-acre blue gum plantation and transform it into the wetland it once was. I can only congratulate the people involved and hope that they help to lead by example. Only collectively can we change the course of climate-change.



Gum Tree Plantation

Nature Glenelg Trust is established as an environmental organisation for the following purposes:

  1. To protect and enhance the natural environment, with a particular emphasis on wetland conservation and restoration activities.

  2. To generate and provide high quality scientific information that enhances management of the natural environment.

  3. To support and undertake key conservation ecology research.

  4. To promote public awareness of nature through education, and involving the community in the activities of the Trust.


Mark Bachmann is the manager of Nature Glenelg Trust, a not-for-profit organisation (Credit: Liz Fenton)

I quote (including part of Mark Bachmann interview) from an article “ABC News South West” (by Emily Bissland) from 08 February 2021:

(https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-07/walker-swamp-blue-gum-plantation-transformed-back-to-wetlands/13110128)


When the Nature Glenelg Trust ecologists first laid foot on this piece of land, known as Walker Swamp, it was in a highly altered, depleted state. For two centuries, water had been diverted and drained. In the 1950s the land was drained for grazing. Then in the 1970s, more water was diverted from the entire catchment to the Wimmera-Mallee headworks system. Finally in the early 2000s, much of the land was converted to blue gum plantation.


Regimented stands of young blue gums (Supplied: Nature Glenelg Trust)

"Now we're trying to turn back the clock, essentially," Mr Bachmann said.


The team began with trials and built temporary structures allowing the flooding of neighbouring grazing land. Two swamps had been fully restored by 2014; resulting in the return of native birds, frogs, even threatened fish turned up.


Now, it was just the looming stands of the plantation that stood in the way.


"We knew that the plantation out there would eventually be harvested and the property sold. We wanted to be the ones to buy it," Mr Bachmann said. And so the journey of his restoration plan began, with much determination.

"When you see the landscape the way we do, as ecologists, you see it through a different lens," he said "It was a dry dust bowl effectively, but you could still see that it was a wetland, and it could be a wetland again."


Walker Swamp when it was still a commercial blue gum plantation.(Supplied: Nature Glenelg Trust, Lachlan Farrington)

So in 2014 the team knocked on the door of the plantation managers to have a chat. Mr Bachmann was astonished at how well those early negotiations took off. Astonishingly, the plantation managers themselves actually suggested that we could run a trial to hold a little bit of water in Walker Swamp. That came as a surprise. So on a day in August the locals got together and helped us build a temporary weir.


Then it took another three or four years trying to engage groups, landowners, philanthropists and funding bodies before finally luck was on their side to finance the purchase of the plantation. Another important moment was for Mark when he spotted the platypus (Australian mammal - on near threatened list - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus)

A new pool of state funding became available at the right moment when the plantation land was changing hands.

"By 2018, we owned 1000 acres out at Walker Swamp," Mr Bachmann said.

In the mind of an ecologist like Mr Bachmann, this floodplain is one essential piece in a hugely important network of mountains, rivers, floodplains and estuaries.


After much effort and will-power Nature Glenelg Trust succeeded by using historic artificial drainage, that wetlands in the upper Wannon River floodplain (South-west Victoria/Australia) are now bouncing back with the help of new partnerships and innovative wetland restoration techniques.

For more information please visit their website and/or Facebook page, noted in our references.


A large proportion of the Upper Wannon River floodplain surrounding Walker Swamp was drained from the 1950s for agriculture and later converted to a Tasmanian Blue Gum plantation forest. This major new restoration project is returning the site to its former glory. The Upper Wannon River floodplain is adjacent to the Grampians National Park in western Victoria. Nature Glenelg Trust (NGT) has been progressively working to restore the wetlands of the floodplain across public and private land, with successful permanent works now completed at Brady Swamp and Gooseneck Swamp in the Grampians National Park - credit: Australian Government, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (https://www.environment.gov.au/)
















Walker Swamp brimming with water and life after a flood in November 2020 (Supplied: Nature Glenelg Trust, Mark Bachmann)


🎥 (2:00) Platypus Sighting - Grampians National Park/Australia


In a global context, this community grass-roots effort is a glimmer of hope confronting the world-wide depletion of our environment, native plants and animals on the only planet we have. It is another step to help fight climate-change!


Mark Bachmann has more than a glimmer of hope for Walker Swamp:

"It's proof or a demonstration; a place we can use to educate, share and inspire others."


To all our readers around the world, we wish you well in those times of uncertainty. Stay safe and healthy! Best wishes for 2021 - from all of us at Enviroblog.net Australia


👫 👫 👫


REFERENCE

ABC News South West Vic, 08.02.2021 (viewed 10.02.2021)

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-07/walker-swamp-blue-gum-plantation-transformed-back-to-wetlands/13110128


Nature Glenelg Trust (viewed 10.02.2021)

https://natureglenelg.org.au

https://natureglenelg.org.au/a-wetland-transformed-in-15-months-now-to-just-add-water/


Nature Glenelg Trust - Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)

https://www.facebook.com/natureglenelgtrust


Recommended watch: The ecologists who bought a 1000 acre timber plantation and restored it to wetlands (ABC News South West Vic)

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=423243005554229




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