Rare plants drink up en­vi­ron­men­tal flows

Shepparton News - Country News - - GRASSLAND CONFERENCE -

Three na­tion­ally im­por­tant plant species have been dis­cov­ered in Gun­bower For­est for the first time in a decade.

North Cen­tral Catch­ment Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity project of­fi­cer Kathryn Stanis­lawski said the dis­cov­ery was of con­ser­va­tion sig­nif­i­cance.

‘‘We came across the na­tion­ally en­dan­gered winged pep­per­cress, the rare Mallee an­nual blue­bell and the lit­tle­known bun­dled pep­per­cress,’’ Mrs Stanis­lawski said.

‘‘We have been sur­vey­ing the for­est for a decade, and have never recorded them in our mon­i­tor­ing sites be­fore,’’ she said.

‘‘We also found the high­est num­ber of rare or threat­ened un­der­storey species in the box wood­land com­mu­ni­ties, and in the river red gum area, since 2012.

‘‘These are small plants, but they are de­liv­er­ing a big, loud mes­sage.’’

Mrs Stanis­lawski said the dis­cov­ery showed that en­vi­ron­men­tal flows had made a big dif­fer­ence, with wa­ter flow­ing into ar­eas of the for­est that were in ‘‘dire straits’’.

‘‘Two man­aged flows in 2014 and 2015 gave Mother Na­ture a kick start, with last year’s floods tak­ing full ad­van­tage, help­ing the area come alive,’’ she said.

‘‘These new plants are proof of that, and now they have set seed, they will be here for a long time to come.

‘‘Be­fore river reg­u­la­tion, large floods used to in­un­date this area about seven years in ev­ery 10. Now it is less than four years in ev­ery 10, and they don’t last as long.

‘‘On top of this, there are very few smaller floods. That’s where we come in.’’

The wa­ter­ing pro­gram will con­tinue in the com­ing weeks, with smaller reg­u­la­tors off Gun­bower Creek used to de­liver a fur­ther 4 Gl.

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