Corner Inlet Projects PDF Print E-mail

Improving the Health of Corner Inlet

A healthier Corner Inlet and on-farm benefits for local landholders are priorities of many natural resource management projects occurring in, and planned for, the Corner Inlet catchment area.

The primary aim of such projects is to enhance the quality of water entering Corner Inlet from the creeks and rivers that drain the surrounding catchment. The West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA), with the cooperation and support of local landholders, has been working on a number of the projects in the area over the past years.

Environmentally Significant and Economically Important

The quality of water entering Corner Inlet Marine and Coastal Park is of high importance as the area is recognised through the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international significance.

Corner Inlet contains a diverse range of habitats including seagrass meadows and large stands of White Mangrove and saltmarsh. The diversity of plants, fish and invertebrates found in these habitats are a rich source of food for thousands of migratory wading birds; these are important contributors to the listing of Corner Inlet as a Ramsar wetland.

The estuaries and wetlands that fringe Corner Inlet are fed by fresh water from the Franklin and Agnes rivers and a number of small creeks. The high rainfall typical of South Gippsland, together with steep slopes and erodible soils, make the smaller waterways of the western end of the Corner Inlet susceptible to high levels of nutrient and sediment run-off. This situation is exacerbated by exotic weed infestations and cattle access in and around waterways.

The region supports the third largest commercial bay and inlet fishery in Victoria, the catchments extend out to highly productive floodplain areas used for farming and it is an important destination for recreational activities including boating, fishing, camping, bird watching and bushwalking.

Links to other projects

Under the Ramsar Convention, the aim of site management is to maintain ecological character. This over-riding management objective focuses the work of planning and management agencies at Corner Inlet.

Aware of this, the WGCMA (in collaboration with the GCB and Parks Victoria) engaged CSIRO to prepare an Environmental Audit of Corner Inlet. Recommendations from the Corner Inlet Environmental Audit formed the basis of funding submissions and the development of projects for the Coastal Catchment Initiative in 2007 and 2008. The core projects funded are: The Ecological Character Description of the Corner Inlet Ramsar site (ECD) (Ecos 2008); the Decision Support System for nutrient and sediment reduction in the Corner Inlet catchment (DSS) (Water Technology 2007); and this Ecological Monitoring Program for the Corner Inlet Ramsar Site. Additional projects including the Corner Inlet Sediment Characterisation Study (Coastal Environmental Consultants 2008) and the Fluvial Geomorphology of the Tributaries of Corner Inlet Ramsar Site (Alluvium 2008) (Figure 2) have also been undertaken to support the core projects.

The Environmental Audit identified monitoring activities within Corner Inlet, and suggested enhancements to current monitoring activities. The ECD described the ecological character of the Corner Inlet Ramsar site and provided limits of acceptable change (LAC) to key indicators of ecological character. These limits of acceptable change and indicators of ecological character provide managers with targets for natural resource management. To ensure that ecological character is maintained, and that any adverse changes are detected at the earliest opportunity, the WGCMA has commissioned the development of this Ecological Monitoring Program for Corner Inlet.

The Environmental Audit indicated that significant loads of sediments and nutrients are entering Corner Inlet and that these loads should be reduced (CSIRO 2005). As a first step in determining where these loads originate and potential reduction strategies, the WGCMA commissioned Water Technology Pty Ltd to prepare the DSS.

The DSS operates within the entire catchment of Corner Inlet including the Ramsar Site. The DSS has required further information to inform the development of predictive models (Figure 2). In particular further information on the fluvial geomorphology of the tributaries of the Corner Inlet Ramsar Site (Alluvium 2008) and information on the characterization of sediments within Corner Inlet Ramsar Site (Coastal Environmental Consultants 2008) were required. This Ecological Monitoring Program takes the ecological character maintenance requirements from the ECD and directs what should be monitored, locations for monitoring (where possible), and the frequency of monitoring to inform the DSS in terms of nutrient and sediment loads entering the Ramsar Site. The DSS will then be used by managers to inform management decisions. All of these projects contribute to the adaptive management monitoring, evaluation and reporting framework.

This Ecological Monitoring Program provides support for managers by ensuring appropriate monitoring design, implementation and interpretation for management purposes. The  monitoring program will be undertaken solely within the boundaries of the Corner Inlet Ramsar Site and within 100m upstream of the major estuarine reaches (to link in with the DSS project) under the management of state agencies. The terrestrial native vegetation of the islands and coastline are not addressed in this monitoring program.

Key links and documents

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 14:02