This spring, Greening Australia is teaming with local landholders and Parks Vic. to carry out extensive wetland protection and enhancement work in the salt affected land around Lake Wellington. Greening’s Martin Potts is ready to commence one hundred and forty kilometres of direct seeding on several properties, and I joined Martin and Peter on a reconnaissance outing to plan the bird surveys that are an integral part of the project.
And priceless as they are, they sometimes need a hand to enable them to carry the weight of their massive limbs. In Great Britain some of the venerable old trees have had props installed to support limbs in danger of falling, in Australia we do things a little differently.
The predominant vegetation around the lake is the red gum and the swamp paperbark, and as we walked it was interesting and thought provoking to observe the varied condition of both. Around the lakes system both have suffered greatly from the creeping salinity, in the worst affected areas both species have been largely killed, while in other areas they are in very poor condition. Then however in an affected area one finds a magnificent tree that is still thriving, and you have to wonder why. Could it be that it has an inbuilt salt tolerance, or is it growing in a position relatively free from salt. Just two hundred metres away trees almost as old were on their last legs, like the one with a large Sea Eagles’ nest in the upper forks, the lack of foliage is apparent.
Adding to the puzzle was a stretch we walked through where the old trees were dead, but there was a dense growth of healthy young saplings. These germinated after intensive cattle grazing ceased, and so far they are looking good. There is good news with the paperbarks too, we passed tracts close to bare salt marsh where they and meadows of tussock grass were healthy and a delight to see.
So, to sum up, all is not yet lost, there are bright spots, and Martin and Greening Australia’s revegetation work is an invaluable factor in the fight to counteract the salinity that has caused so much damage over the last fifty years.
Click to enlarge.