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Wimmera CMA

Street Address:
24 Darlot Street, Horsham, 3400
(enter via Gleed St)

Postal Address:
PO Box 479, Horsham, VIC, 3402
Phone: (03) 5382 1544
Fax: (03) 5382 6076
Email: wcma@wcma.vic.gov.au
 
Office Hours:
Monday to Friday, 8:30 - 5:00pm
(excluding Public Holidays and Christmas - New Year Closure.  Office may also be closed for short periods Monday mornings)

Wetlands

Wetlands provide the lifeblood to the Wimmera. Significantly modified wetlands such as Lake Bellfield, Lake Wartook and Lake Fyans provide precious water for stock and domestic purposes. There are over 3,000 wetlands in the Wimmera with a rich diversity of natural features and there is a strong community affinity for social activities such as fishing, water skiing, camping, duck shooting, and passive recreation. Over 90% of the wetlands occur on private land. As many of the wetlands are in the lowest part of the landscape, they are often subjected to agricultural externalities, such as nitrogen and phosphorus run off. Land use and seasonality has a major impact on the health of wetlands. Wimmera CMA provides incentives, tenders, planning advice to councils, and knowledge to landholders, to improve wetland health and condition for all the community to enjoy.

 
 West Wimmera WetlandWest Wimmera Wetland

The term 'Wetland' is used to describe environments that are subject to surface inundation that results in development of wetland soils and wetland plants.

Wimmera wetlands

The Wimmera is a hot spot for wetlands and related natural values. There are over 3,000 wetlands in the Wimmera region, with survey data identifying 2,676 wetlands greater than one hectare. This equates to roughly 25% of Victoria’s individual non-flowing wetlands. Wetlands are highly diverse in terms of their hydrology and salinity. Different wetland categories support a wide range of plant, bird, macro invertebrate, and other wetland species.
Wetlands can be grouped into sub-regions or wetland systems based on similar geographic characteristics and management issues. Wetlands in all systems provide a major source of recreational opportunity valued by local communities and boosting local economies.

The wetland systems and their key attributes include:
  1. Terminal lakes of the Wimmera River
    Terminal lakes of the Wimmera River are a series of large lakes and connecting creeks including Lake Hindmarsh, Lake Albacutya, Outlet Creek, and Ross Lakes that are primarily filled by flooding flows from the Wimmera River during exceptionally wet conditions. The lakes have significant social, economic, and environmental qualities including:
    • Lake Albacutya is recognised as a Ramsar site as it is a wetland of international significance. Lake Hindmarsh is recognised as a nationally important wetland as well; it is Victoria’s largest freshwater lake. Rare and threatened bird and vegetation species thrive in periods when these waterways contain water. Fish and yabby populations also boom during these times.
    • They are home to significant indigenous and non-indigenous cultural heritage and provide major recreation values.
  2. Northern Wimmera Plains wetlands
    There are a few hundred of these wetlands that are quite variable in size with some large (e.g. Yanac and Nhill Swamps) whilst others are much smaller. They typically fill in wet winters and dry out in the warmer months. They have a surprising diversity of wildlife including a number of threatened species, which is important in a largely cleared landscape. 
     
  3. South-west Wimmera wetland system
    The South-west Wimmera has an abundance and diversity of wetlands like nowhere else in Victoria. Ancient dune and swale systems have left a legacy of long chains of wetlands in the south of the West Wimmera Shire. In wet years, some of the larger wetlands will fill and spill into other ones along the chain. Depending on prevailing climatic conditions, they can remain wet or dry out completely for years at a time. Elsewhere there are a number of localised smaller wetlands including some of the more seasonal freshwater marshes and freshwater meadows and gilgai areas. They support a vast array of species – frogs, birds, and plants as well as some of the larger wetlands providing great recreational opportunities.

     
  4. Natimuk-Douglas saline wetland system
    Natimuk-Douglas saline wetland system contains approximately 200 wetlands that are mostly groundwater fed saline wetlands. They are of immense environmental value, so much so that 11 of them are listed on the National Directory of Important Wetlands, harbouring a number of rare species and providing important habitat for migratory water birds and waders. Some like Natimuk and St Mary’s Lake also have high recreational value when they contain water.

     
  5. Wetlands of the Upper Wimmera catchment
    Water storages are a hub for recreation, namely fishing and on Lake Lonsdale and Lake Fyans waterskiing is very popular when water levels are sufficient. Lake Lonsdale also has immense indigenous cultural significance with a large number of artefacts present there. Smaller wetlands are also present across the upper catchment like Green’s Swamp near Green’s Creek and Gibling’s Dip near Pomonal.
 Wimmera Wetlands & Wetland SystemsWimmera Wetlands and major Wetland Systems

Why are Wimmera wetlands important?

Wetlands are of immense value to the health of our environment and lifestyle. Wetlands occur in many different forms – each has its own unique ecosystem of plants and animals that depend on the wetland for food, water, and habitat. Wetlands provide many valuable and essential ‘free’ services such as:

  • regulating stream flow to help slow flooding after storms
  • helping cleanse water of pollution and sediment
  • providing breeding grounds for fish and other aquatic animals
  • acting as drought refuges for native reptiles and mammals
  • providing feeding and roosting areas for native and migratory birds
  • giving valuable pasture and shelter for stock.

Wetland resources

Wimmera CMA has many wetland resources available to the community including films, glove box guides, special publications, and fact sheets. To find out more contact Wimmera CMA.

What is Wimmera CMA doing for our wetlands?

Wimmera CMA has a role in the management of wetlands, which includes protecting their ecological, social, and economic values.

Wimmera CMA has gathered a great deal of data to help understand the region's wetlands and is delivering a project to protect, enhance, and restore wetlands that are highly valued by the community. Wetland protection conservation incentives; provide financial and technical support to landholders enabling them to undertake works to protect and enhance their wetlands.

Approximately 90% of wetlands in the Wimmera are on private property. Therefore, landholders play an important role in the conservation and protection of wetland health.

In 2005, Wimmera CMA undertook a study to gain an understanding of the social and economic drivers of why landholders chose to engage in wetland rehabilitation. Community awareness and education activities have been guided by the outcomes of this study and have included World Wetlands Day celebrations, landholder field days and workshops, wetland management demonstration sites, field guides, fact sheets, and local government support tools such as Environmental Significance Overlays.