Rain transforms chain of ponds

One of the jewels in Victoria’s environment is having ‘a moment’ following the recent rains. 

The Providence Ponds and Perry River catchment is unique as it contains one of the most intact Chain of Ponds systems known in Victoria. 

“Chain of Ponds were once common across the south-eastern part of Australia,” said Natural Resource Management Planner with the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, Paula Camenzuli. 

“At first glance, the Chain of Ponds might simply look like a series of dams,” added Paula. 

But they are actually a complex waterway system of irregular spaced, often oval ponds which are linked by shallow floodways,” said Paula. 

The WGCMA along with partner organisations such as the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC), HVP Plantations, the Wellington Shire Council and Trust for Nature have been working with private landholders since 2016 to protect and enhance the Pond system. 

We’ve been fortunate to be able to work with 17 landholders to do such things as place fencing around the Ponds, repair erosion sites, plant native trees and permanently protect ponds and native vegetation under Trust for Nature covenants,” said Paula. 

Since the project commenced over 13 kilometres of fencing has been erected, more than 40 hectares of native vegetation has been planted and just over eight priority erosion sites have been addressed. 

More than 35ha of riparian habitats that include ponds and priority waterways is being permanently protected by Trust for Nature covenants on HVP Plantations’ land and an adjoining farm. 

The results, combined with the recent rains, have been spectacular with some of the sites being transformed and full of water for the first time in a number of years,” said Paula. 

Landholder John Boyd of Stockdale says while he’s always been a keen planter of trees, he did have some anxieties about fencing off quite significant areas of the farm. However, those early nerves have been replaced by a sense of pride in the work that has been done. 

“Certainly, since I’ve been involved, I appreciate it so much more. To be able to ride alongside the trees, it’s certainly better than I ever expected.” 

John says the negotiation about where fences went, and which areas were planted with native trees was a good one and one he sees as having good results for the broader landscape. 

“Basically, it was up to me where the fences went. We walked many kilometres placing pegs on both sides of the creek. Some people believe that you’re losing too much grazing country, but I think the benefits far outweigh the negatives in terms of the aesthetics of it. It becomes a windbreak and obviously shade for the stock.” 

Partner organisation Trust for Nature has been working with landholders to both reduce weeds and, where possible, covenant parcels of land to protect them into the future. 

John Hick from Trust for Nature says while it has been a project with a large number of individuals and organisations involved, the outcome is a significant milestone in protecting and enhancing the environment. 

“The project has provided a wonderful opportunity for Trust for Nature to work closely with the WGCMA, farmers and other private landholders including HVP Plantations to improve the management and protection of the ponds and adjacent habitats.  

Despite the extremely difficult climatic conditions affecting landholders and their properties, the project has achieved significant results with three landholders permanently protecting more than 120 ha of habitat.”  

Further information about the Chain of Ponds project can be found at wgcma.vic.gov.au 

Published Tuesday 24th March 2020