darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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October 27, 2011

A wetland rehabilitation project in the catchment of the Gippsland Lakes is an outstanding example of practical environmental work according to Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.

Mr Chester inspected the Heart Morass as part of a tour with West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA) and State Members of Parliament Peter Ryan, Russell Northe and Tim Bull.

The Heart Morass project has seen previously degraded farmland rehabilitated thanks to a combined effort from the WET Trust, Field and Game Australia, BugBlitz Trust, the Hugh DT Williamson Foundation, Watermark and WGCMA.

“The transformation in recent years from salinity affected pastures to a thriving wetland on the shores of the Latrobe River and Lake Wellington is a testament to the vision and hard work of many local people,” Mr Chester said.

“By removing weeds and controlling pest animals the organisations involved have succeeded in providing an environment for water birds and other species to re-establish themselves in the catchment.

“Recent flooding events have also replenished the wetlands and assisted the replanting program which will provide benefits for many years to come.”

Mr Chester said there was great potential to extend the project to include other areas of marginal agricultural land in the future.

“I have already been approached by other private landholders who recognise that it is almost impossible to run a viable farm on some of the fringing wetland areas in the Gippsland Lakes catchment,” Mr Chester said.

“It would make more sense for governments to work with local community groups to buyback some parcels of land and rehabilitate the sites.

“The highlight of the Heart Morass project is that it is being actively managed for a variety of uses including sustainable hunting, bird watching and enhancing its environmental attributes which will obviously benefit the Gippsland Lakes.

“One of the most successful initiatives has been the Hugh DT Williamson Foundation’s ‘Bug Blitz’ program which has allowed thousands of local school children to plant trees and gain an understanding of biodiversity in an outdoor classroom environment.”

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