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Local “Kakadu” site restored for native wildlife

Friday 15 April, 2016

A saltmarsh area that is vital habitat for native wildlife including the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot in Victoria’s Port Phillip Bay is being restored thanks to a partnership between Melbourne Water and Parks Victoria.

The five year restoration project is focusing on a saltmarsh area at Point Wilson near Lara and within the Port Phillip and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar site; an internationally recognised wetland of importance.

Parks Victoria Project Coordinator Toby Stringer said, “This area is recognised as second only to Kakadu for its diversity of bird life, and is situated less than an hour from Melbourne.”

“Saltmarsh vegetation is critical habitat to a wide range of wildlife, including the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot and migratory wader birds.”

The site being restored is on Melbourne Water’s Western Treatment Plant property, directly adjacent to other important saltmarsh sites managed by Parks Victoria and other landholders. Melbourne Water is focusing on rabbit control, while Parks Victoria is managing weeds including Serrated Tussock and African Boxthorn.

“Partnerships like these are vital to achieving large-scale conservation across the landscape, particularly in important habitats such as saltmarsh. We are already seeing positive results with native saltmarsh plant species regenerating,” said Mr Stringer.

“Saltmarsh vegetation has also recently been identified as one of the most effective carbon sinks on the planet. Saltmarsh, along with mangroves and seagrass meadows, can bury carbon at 35-57 times faster than tropical rainforests and can store this ‘blue carbon’ for thousands of years. This makes saltmarsh vegetation ideal targets for carbon offset programs and nature-based climate mitigation initiatives.”

Western Treatment Plant Manager, Martin Bowles said this project is a great example of agencies working together towards the common goal of improving the natural environment. Coastal saltmarsh is an important vegetation community as it provides habitat for wildlife, is a food source for invertebrates, and also acts as a water quality filter.

“Melbourne Water is pleased to be working with Parks Victoria on this valuable project,” said Mr Bowles.

This project is supported by Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, through funding from the Australian Government as part of a 5 year project aimed at protecting and enhancing threatened saltmarsh vegetation across the state.

Media enquiries
Kate Milkins
0437 129 031

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