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Environmental Watering Program

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North Central Catchment Management Authority will commence an Environmental Watering Program at Gunbower National Park in late May 2014.

Gunbower Forest relies on regular flooding to remain healthy and support the forest’s many plants and animals. Over time, river regulation and a drier climate has significantly reduced the frequency and duration of natural flooding in the forest. Over the past ten years Gunbower Forest experienced a long phase of drought. The drought was broken by natural floods in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Since 2013, following three years of natural flooding, the forest has been in a ‘drying phase’ with no natural flooding or environmental water releases. The majority of the forest’s wetlands are now completely dry or contain only small pools. While the drying phase is important, the forest now needs watering. The North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is planning the release of environmental water, using the newly-constructed Hipwell Road Channel.

Environmental water will start flowing through the new Hipwell Road Channel by early June, after the irrigation season. Water will continue to be released through the Hipwell Road Channel up until October. However, if rare colonial waterbirds (e.g. Egrets) begin to breed in response to the flooding, low volumes of water may continue to be released into the forest over the summer months.

To find out more, read the Gunbower Forest – Fact Sheet or visit the North Central CMA website at www.nccma.vic.gov.au.

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