Gunning for control over native lands

By Riverine Herald

CONTROLLING invasive weeds and feral animals, revegetating denuded sandhills and improving wetland habitats will be at the forefront for the Murray Local Land Services latest project.

The organisation will embark on an extended project to enhance the internationally recognised Ramsar wetlands in the central Murray region, announcing it has received up to $2.98 million over five years from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

It will also include a monitoring program aimed at improving knowledge of Australasian bittern numbers.

The 85,000ha Ramsar site comprises the Werai Forest, north-west of Deniliquin, the Millewa group, south of Deniliquin, and the Koondrook-Perricoota Forest, south-east of Barham.

Jamie Hearn, who will manage the project for Murray Local Land Services, said the condition of the forests and wetlands was vitally important to the long-term health of the region’s rivers and creeks.

‘‘These sites are home to a number of threatened and endangered native plant and animal species, including the Australasian bittern, painted snipe, swamp wallaby grass and the Murray hardyhead,’’ he said.

‘‘A major component of this project will be the management of feral pigs, deer, foxes and rabbits, as well as controlling the spread of significant weeds such as blackberry and boxthorn, and this work will be done in collaboration with land managers, adjacent landholders and the local Aboriginal community.

‘‘As well as having significant environmental benefits, this project will create local employment opportunities, support local landholders and improve the amenity of the recreational users of these unique and valuable areas.’’

Ramsar wetlands are designated under the Ramsar Convention as being of international importance.

Signatory countries agree to establish and oversee a management framework aimed at conserving the wetlands.