Bringing back our wetlands - Murray Family Conservation Reserve
This week's launch of the Murray Family Conservation Reserve at Long Swamp by Victoria's new minister for energy, environment and climate change, Lily D'Ambrosio, is a welcome move and one we hope will be the first of many to bring back our wetlands.
The new reserve is a deep freshwater marsh that stretches across 200 hectares of the Moolort Plains, about two hours north west of Melbourne, near Castlemaine.
Almost two-thirds of Victoria's wetlands have been lost since European settlement, the victims of drainage, development, pollution and poor land management, which is why the launch of the new reserve and the swamp's future restoration is so important.
Before it was drained in 1965, Long Swamp provided habitat for native fauna, including the nationally endangered Australasian Bittern, the nationally vulnerable Australian Painted Snipe, the vulnerableBrolga and the nationally vulnerable Growling Grass Frog.
The reserve will be owned and managed by the Trust for Nature and was made possible by the purchase of the wetland using Victorian government and philanthropic funding and with local community support.
Ms D'Ambrosio said the new reserve is an important step in restoring the Moolort Plains wetland chain.
"The permanent protection of this site will strengthen essential corridors for species movement between patches of habitat, enhancing natural biodiversity," she said.
"The long-term support for this project has been immense, and its conservation is a great example of what can be achieved when government, not-for-profits and the community come together with a vision to protect one of Victoria's special places."
Trust for Nature's CEO, Victoria Marles said that the Trust for Nature will continue to work with the North Central Catchment Management Authority to restore the natural hydrology, allowing the Swamp to seasonally hold water from natural rainfall events.
"The reserve has great conservation potential under future management and this is a significant step in protecting wetland habitat that has disappeared from much of Victoria."