A partnership approach to saltmarsh protection in Corner Inlet

After nearly ten successful years working to protect and enhance Corner Inlet, the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority’s Costal Saltmarsh Protection Program is expanding to work with new landholders and more closely with partner agencies.

This project is being delivered by West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

“It’s exciting to be able to build on the success of the program over the last decade, which has seen Saltmarsh protected and allowed to flourish in those areas where cattle have been excluded,” said WGCMA Waterways Project Officer Tanya Cowell.

The NLP funding for the next three years funding will see more collaboration between the WGCMA team and partner agencies like Trust for Nature and the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC).

“It’s fantastic to be working with Trust for Nature on this program and the continued support from GLaWAC also means that the indigenous connection to country can be maintained and enhanced” added Tanya.

Trust for Nature will work with landholders who may wish to covenant a parcel of land to protect it under law from particular uses in the future as well as assisting those landholders with ways of managing the land now.

“Covenanting isn’t just fencing it off habitat and forgetting it,” says Trust for Nature’s John Hick.

“It includes a program of on-ground works (fencing, weed control), development of management plans to guide long-term site management and restoration as well as monitoring to track changes in site condition and threats”, added John.

“We get to be involved in covenanting parcels of land all around the state but this project, being so close to the wonderful Corner Inlet is pretty special,” concluded John.

During the next three years Trust for Nature aims to work with landholders to covenant and control high-threat weeds across 80ha of saltmarsh habitat. This will more than double the area of permanently protected saltmarsh habitats on private land within Corner Inlet.

Saltmarsh provides critical feeding and breeding habitat for birds, fish and crustaceans. It also acts as a filter for nutrients and sediments, reduces erosion and maintains water quality.

“In high tides Saltmarsh areas become places of shelter, almost like a nursery, for juvenile fish. At other times the Saltmarsh can act as something of a filter for water as it enters Corner Inlet as well as providing a place for native animals to breed and shelter,” added Ms Cowell.

Over coming months, the project staff will be beginning to recruit landholders who wish to be involved in this new chapter of the project.

“If landholders are curious, they can certainly give me a call for a chat. We’ll also be targeting landholders in particular locations to see if they are interested,” said Tanya.

“There are a number of landholders who have already protected their saltmarsh, we are looking to build on that vital network along the Corner Inlet coastline” concluded Tanya.

Landholders interested in protecting saltmarsh on their property can email Tanya Cowell at tanyac@wgcma.vic.gov.au or ring on 56 135 951.

 

Published 29 June 2020

Coastal Saltmarsh