Biggest environmental flow in Australia’s history released into Barmah forest: wetland thrives


500bn litres released into forest: Many of Barmah’s old red gums
are now soaking their thirsty roots in a metre of water. The two state
Governments have planned to release 500 billion litres into the forest,
sustaining a five-month-long flood.

Spectacular flooding results: The flooding began in October and
the results already are spectacular – a relief to governments and
freshwater scientists who were keen to demonstrate the benefits of
giving the environment more water. In Kakadu-style, the Barmah wetland
is alive and teeming with lush growth, birds, frogs, huge dragonflies,
black snakes, turtles and fish.

A boost to local ecosystem: The great egret is breeding on the
Victorian side of the Barmah for the first time in 30 years. Pelicans
swirl around in groups. In the red gums, ibis are building nesting
platforms over the water. The massive roots of old red gums are
surrounded by flood water, while up in the canopy, koalas are feasting
on the new green growth.

Hit and miss flood timing: Water managers are getting better at
timing the floods to get the best outcome. Floods need to be the right
length, depth and frequency. If the waters subside too quickly,
waterbirds abandon their nests. All three factors have been hit and
miss as the Murray’s dams and water extraction reduce natural flows.

The Age, 26/11/2005, p. 7

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