A GROUP of environmentally-minded Corner Inlet district community members gathered on a farming property just out of Foster on Friday June 2, 2023 to help replant a portion of the Stockyard Creek catchment with local native species.
About 300 tubestock-sized tree and shrub varieties, such as blue, manna and Strzelecki gums, and a number of different melaleucas, were planted along a newly-fenced-off section of the riparian zones on either side of the creek itself.
The community planting day was arranged by the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA) as part of a nearly completed four-year, federally-funded national Landcare program designed to restore and protect fisheries habitat.
Fifty percent of the program’s funding has been applied to land-based riparian zone revegetation, while the other half has been devoted to restoring coastal and intertidal areas, including creating new beds for broadleaf seagrass.
In South Gippsland, the program has been aimed at preserving and extending Corner Inlet’s seagrass meadows and protecting its internationally significant RAMSAR site.
The riparian and coastal aspects of the program work together to improving river health and the overall quality of the water flowing into the Inlet, as well as that of the seawater, for the benefit of both ecosystems.
The WGCMA has been working in partnership with landholders and regional Landcare networks and groups to fence off and revegetate waterways throughout the Agnes River and Franklin River catchments along with Stockyard Creek’s watershed.
WGCMA regional agriculture Landcare facilitator Sam Shannon attended the community planting day at the Foster property and commented that “it’s good to see the natural vegetation of the Stockyard Creek catchment being restored.
“Replanting the riparian areas around Corner Inlet is an effective way of protecting the broadleaf seagrass in the Inlet, which is important to fish populations as their breeding grounds and nurseries as well as for improving water quality,” he said.
“Planting days like this are great in the way they engage the local community and increase people’s awareness of the direct relationship between the land and the sea.”
Mr Shannon said the WGCMA first started fencing and revegetating the Foster property in 2020 in collaboration with the landowner.
To date, about 40,000 locally propagated trees, shrubs and native grasses have been planted on about 15 hectares of previously cleared former farming land that the owner of the property has formally made available to the WGCMA.
The replanted land borders more than two kilometres of watercourses that run through the property, which includes much of the upper reaches of Stockyard Creek, several smaller tributaries, and a permanent spring.
This project is described as one of the biggest plantings undertaken, with the WGCMA supplying the fencing, pre-planting ground preparation, the tubestock and the actual planting, ongoing weed control, and replacement plants if required, to go with the owner’s contribution of the land.
The WGCMA website states that “this work is aimed at improving water quality and river health and can include fencing of creeks and rivers, replanting of native vegetation along the waterways, and stream bed and bank stabilisation.”
Other elements of the WGCMA’s riparian zone projects include removal of exotic weeds including willows, reinstatement of billabongs and old river meanders, and fencing of remnant and riparian vegetation.
For more information about getting involved with environmental restoration works near you, contact your local Landcare group via the South Gippsland Landcare Network or the Yarram Yarram Landcare Network, or see their respective Facebook pages.