Members of the Nungurner Landcare Group joined State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, on Pelican (or Baxter as it is sometimes known) Island recently to inspect the first stage of the Island’s renourishment project.
Mr Bull said this program received funding in 2014 under the former Coalition’s Gippsland Lakes Environment Fund and it is pleasing to see it coming to fruition.
“Every year for many years I have spent a fair bit of time around this island as it’s a favourite fishing haunt, so have got to know it fairly well.
“Around 2009/10, there was a lot of vegetation die off and some erosion, which appeared to be the result of increased salinity on the back of the 10 year drought.
“When we did receive rainfall and river inflows picked up, the salinity levels dropped and with the return of some of the vegetation, it has gone from being completely barren to quite green now.
“However, this occurrence led to thinking it would be the ideal place to renourish (as it is a key swan nesting site) and undertake some vegetation trials relating to salt tolerant species given we are sure to see more drought at some time in the future.
“I initiated meetings with the Nungurner Landcare Group, which has a strong interest in this area and following this, put the proposal to the executive officer of the then Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee, which oversaw the Gippsland Lakes Environment Fund.
“Various approvals and permissions had to be undertaken and the project has commenced as a partnership between Parks Victoria, Gippsland Ports, DELWP, Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation and the Nungurner Landcare Group.
“The dredging works that have recently been undertaken by Ports have followed detailed assessment of lake bed materials, hydrographic evaluation and consultation with wildlife experts and local Landcare representatives.
“While Parks Victoria will manage the project, it is very pleasing to see the agencies working together and I am delighted the Nungurner Landcare Group will continue to play an important role in this project to improve the ecological condition of the Island.
“This will be a project that will require monitoring over a number of years and one that I am sure will tell a real story, particularly in relation to the vegetation species in a changing environment.
“When visiting the Island with members of the Landcare Group, it was very pleasing to see the phragmites starting to return in many areas after being absent for a few years,” Mr Bull said.
The project follows the successful renourishment of Crescent Island at Bunga Arm, which is now hosting a large number of migratory terns as a result of the work undertaken.
Mr Bull said it was projects like this that highlighted the importance of the Gippsland Lakes Environment Fund being continued.
“It commenced under the Coalition as $10m over four years and was recommitted for another four years pre-election. The current government committed to one year, but given we are again reaching the tail end, it is important the Minister reaffirms that this fund will continue.
“This will be a matter I will be pursuing with the Minister when Parliament resumes in early February,” Mr Bull said.