Resurrecting the Kakadu of the South (#138)
The Heart Morass is a 2,000 hectare wetland in south east Australia, part of which is included in the Gippsland Lakes Ramsar site. It receives freshwater inflows from the Latrobe River and occasional saltwater inflows from the adjoining Gippsland Lakes. It has historically been cleared, burnt, and drained for cattle grazing.
Large areas of the wetland resembled a moonscape when it was purchased in 2006 for ecological purposes and hunting by Field and Game Australia’s Wetlands Environmental Taskforce Trust. A strong partnership between numerous organisations has resulted in the development and implementation of a rehabilitation plan for the wetland. Key achievements to date include securing the purchase of additional wetland, an environmental water entitlement, revegetation, weed management, and watering infrastructure improvements. The project has involved significant community engagement through revegetation and weed control works as well as education programs with schools.
The breaking of the Millenium drought, together with active rehabilitation, has resulted in the wetland’s dramatic ecological recovery. This is evidenced by improved water quality, significant growth and increased diversity of aquatic and fringing vegetation, increased numbers and species of waterbirds, including species of conservation significance.