world rivers day – a day to celebrate

22 September, 2022

World Rivers Day, celebrated on the fourth Sunday of September each year, is a day to remember, acknowledge and remind ourselves of the value of the world’s rivers.

In Gippsland it coincides with the 25th anniversary of the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA), a body established in 1997, to work with community, landholders, and others to protect, improve and enhance the rivers of West Gippsland.

“The 25-year mark, and World Rivers Day, are both milestones to measure our work and most importantly acknowledge the many hundreds of landholders and thousands of community members who have been with us along the way in working to improve our waterways,” said CEO of the WGCMA, Mr Martin Fuller.

The work of the WGCMA is centred around working with landholders whose land contains river frontage to do things like remove invasive species, fence off and exclude stock from the waterway and plant native flora to help protect the banks of the river from erosion.

“This type of work requires trusting relationships to be built which often live much longer than the time the works are being carried out. In many cases it leads the landholder to think of other sites they may have on their title that they might wish to improve,” added Martin.

After 25 years, the WGCMA has some notable figures to look back on that signify both the organisation’s impact but, again more importantly, the partnerships that have allowed the work to take place.

“Over the journey, more than three and a quarter million trees have been planted, almost three quarters of a million hectares of weeds have been removed and 1,500 kilometres of fencing installed along riverbanks.

We’ve also held more than 1,200 community events with over 26,000 participants, who have all contributed to improving the outcomes for waterways and the environment in West Gippsland,” said Martin.

Other work of the WGCMA includes flood recovery repairs and reinstatement of riverbanks, reinforcing river bends where erosion might occur, delivering water for the environment to promote fish passage and other aquatic life. Working with farmers to develop more efficient irrigation methods and assisting people to plan development through the mapping of floodplains.

“Looking back is useful in some ways,” said Martin. “But the important thing is what we do in the future. The importance of protecting and improving our environment is increasingly important for us all. The many landholders and community members we work with and even those that have never set foot into a CMA event, all want a better future for their children. Where they can swim in local rivers, catch fish of a local riverbank and visit local sites of beauty and be confident those pastimes and sites are safe, protected and being managed sustainably. So, here’s to World Rivers Day and here’s to even better waterways in West Gippsland.”

Wellington River headwaters
Wellington River headwaters