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Wetland wonderland in Nyah-Vinifera forests

Two important wetlands in the Nyah-Vinifera Park are teeming with life after environmental watering projects inundated some billabongs for only the fourth time in more than a decade.

Prior to river regulation the wetlands within the Nyah-Vinifera Park would have been inundated every year.

Pumping finished this week to deliver the fourth environmental flow in ten years for Nyah and the second watering to be undertaken at Vinifera in the last decade.

The watering was coordinated by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), in partnership with the Victorian Environmental Water Holder, Parks Victoria and the  Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

Mallee CMA Chair Sharyon Peart said the recent watering event has built on the outcomes of 2014/15 watering, to turn the Nyah and Vinifera billabongs into wonderlands.

“We monitor the impacts of the watering closely, and in both cases the ecological response has been incredible,” Ms Peart said.

“When the pumping starts and the water begins flowing, the wetland comes to life almost immediately – the frogs are there overnight!

“They’re followed by the aquatic bugs and insects, then the birds, bats and snakes reappear and later the mammals like sugar gliders and wallabies move in.

“It has been an amazing transformation from dry and dusty billabong beds to thriving wetlands carrying literally thousands of ducks and waterbirds who are now breeding – it’s an absolute picture.”

The Nyah floodplain is a low-lying floodplain area that was historically inundated in spring under natural flow conditions.  The 913 hectare floodplain encompasses an elongated basin drained by Parnee Malloo Creek, a seasonal anabranch of the River Murray. Nyah received 740 megalitres of environmental water during October.

The Vinifera floodplain is 638 hectares and includes Vinifera Creek, a seasonal anabranch of the River Murray.  It features a prominent river red gum forest that is now managed to preserve conservation and heritage values and received 400 megalitres of environmental flows during October.

Ms Peart said in only a month since watering began, the wetlands, forests and woodlands in both areas had responded quickly.

“The red gums have responded strongly with beautiful, lush green growth and will keep drawing the benefit of an inundation like this for many months to come,” she said.

“At Nyah it was the third environmental watering we have done, and the area was also inundated during the 2011 flood, so we are really seeing areas of the forest returning to excellent condition.

“The restorative process is just starting at Vinifera where, other than in 2011 and last year, there hadn’t been any inundation of the floodplain in more than a decade. And this watering has continued to build on the outcomes from last years watering”

“But the environmental response there is equally promising and tells us the watering is definitely putting us on the right track to preserve these unique ecosystems.”

Mallee CMA has produced a short film showcasing the results of the Nyah-Vinifera watering, which can be found here.

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