Up to 4500 hectares of red gum forest, fringing creeks, wetland and habitat will be replenished over the next 60 days thanks to a planned watering event in the Koondrook and Perricoota State Forests.
Forestry Corporation of NSW’s The Living Murray Program Manager for Koondrook-Perricoota Linda Broekman said the watering was critical to protect habitat and improve the health of red gums, creeks and wetlands.
“These red gum forests thrive on regular watering, but with the ongoing drought we’re experiencing, there hasn’t been a flow to the Koondrook and Perricoota State Forests since 2016 and they have been substantially dry for the past couple of years,” Ms Broekman said.
“If the drought worsens, it is unlikely that there will be any water available to deliver flows next year so this event, which is using water carried over from last year, may be our last chance for a while to deliver crucial replenishing flows into the forest and its wetlands.
“Over the next 60 days we will inundate around 4,500 hectares of creek lines, wetlands and fringing vegetation in a network extending from one end of the forest to the other to replenish the forest’s extensive creeks and semi-permanent wetlands.
“The water will flow through the Koondrook–Perricoota Flood Enhancement Works, which were designed to contribute to the health of the Murray–Darling system by enabling controlled delivery to the forest and include fishways to avoid stranding native fish within the forest.
“It is reusing water returning to the river from upstream forests through the coordinated River Murray channel flow, which is designed to provide water to different environmental assets along the length of the Murray.
“The watering action is carefully timed to coincide with cold water temperatures to avoid the risk of hypoxic black water events. It will also provide an opportunity to flush carbon from the forest to reduce the likelihood of fish deaths from hypoxic water in future floods, and will provide important nutrients to native fish in the Thule Creek and the Wakool River.
“Access to the forest will be limited over the next 60 days while flows are delivered and until the roads dry. We acknowledge the generous support of neighbours who are working closely with us to manage the flows.”
This water for the environment action is being delivered by Forestry Corporation of NSW in partnership with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Biodiversity and Conservation and Water divisions.
It is part of The Living Murray programme, a joint initiative of the New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian, Australian Capital Territory and the Commonwealth governments, coordinated by the MDBA.