Kerang Wetlands Ramsar Site Strategic Management Plan Download

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Kerang Wetlands Ramsar
Site: Strategic
Management Plan
Department of Sustainability and
Environment, Victoria
This Strategic Management Plan was developed on behalf of the Department of
Sustainability and Environment by Parks Victoria with key stakeholders.
This report was prepared with financial support from the National Wetlands
Program, under the Natural Heritage Trust.
© The State of Victoria, Department of Sustainability and Environment, 2004
This publication is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or
review as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced, copied, transmitted in any form
or by any means (electronic, mechanical or graphic) without the prior written permission of the State of Victoria,
Department of Sustainability and Environment. All requests and enquires should be directed to the Copyright
Officer, Library Information Services, Department of Sustainability and Environment, 5/250 Victoria Parade, East
Melbourne, Victoria 3002.
Disclaimers
This publication may be of assistance to you and every effort has been made to ensure that the information in
the report is accurate. The Department of Sustainability and Environment does not guarantee that the report is
without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability
for any error, loss or other consequence, which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication.
The views and opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the
views and opinions of the Commonwealth Government of Australia, the Federal Minister for Environment and
Heritage, or the Department of Environment and Heritage.
This report is prepared without prejudice to any negotiated or litigated outcome of any Native Title Determination
Applications covering land or waters within the plan’s area. It is acknowledged that any future outcomes of
Native Title Determination Applications may necessitate amendment of this report; and the implementation of
this plan may require further notifications under the procedures in Division 3 Part 2 of the Native Title Act 1993
(Cwlth).
The plan is also prepared without prejudice to any future negotiated outcomes between the Government/s and
Victorian Aboriginal communities. It is acknowledged that such negotiated outcomes may necessitate
amendment of this plan.
Published in February 2004 by the Department of Sustainability and Environment
Level 14, 8 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne, Victoria.
Copies of this document are available at www.dse.vic.gov.au
National Library of Australia
Cataloguing-in-Publication entry
Victoria. Department of Sustainability and Environment.
Kerang Wetlands Ramsar Site: Strategic Management Plan
Bibliography.
ISBN 1 74106 824 X
Cover: Kerang Wetlands (Photographs: Parks Victoria collection)
Printed on recycled paper.
DRAFT STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE
Contents
GLOSSARY
III
1
INTRODUCTION
1
1.1
1.2
1.3
STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS STATEMENT
PURPOSE OF THE STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN
CONSULTATIVE FRAMEWORK
1
1
2
2
RAMSAR SITE DESCRIPTION
3
2.1
2.2
2.3
2.4
2.5
2.6
2.7
LOCATION
W ETLAND TYPE
CRITERIA MET FOR RAMSAR LISTING
LAND TENURE AND MANAGEMENT
ADJACENT LAND USE
CATCHMENT SETTING
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
3
3
3
3
4
4
5
3
POLICY FRAMEWORK
8
3.1
3.2
STRATEGIES
MUNICIPAL STRATEGIC STATEMENTS, ZONING AND OVERLAYS
8
10
4
VALUES
11
4.1
4.2
4.3
4.4
4.5
4.6
4.7
4.8
4.9
4.10
4.11
W ETLAND REPRESENTATIVENESS
FLORA AND FAUNA
W ATERBIRDS
NATURAL FUNCTION
CULTURAL HERITAGE
SCENIC
ECONOMIC
EDUCATION AND INTERPRETATION
RECREATION AND TOURISM
SCIENTIFIC
CONDITION
11
11
12
12
13
13
13
13
13
14
14
5
MANAGEMENT OF RISKS
15
5.1
5.2
5.3
5.4
5.5
5.6
5.7
5.8
5.9
5.10
5.11
ALTERED WATER REGIMES
SALINITY
POLLUTION
PEST PLANTS AND ANIMALS
RESOURCE UTILISATION
RECREATION
EROSION
DREDGING
FIRE
LAND MANAGEMENT
LEVEL OF RISK TO RAMSAR VALUES
15
17
19
19
20
21
22
22
22
22
22
DRAFT STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE I
6
SITE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
REFERENCES
24
30
APPENDIX 1
LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
32
APPENDIX 2
THREATENED STATUS OF FLORA
33
APPENDIX 3
THREATENED STATUS OF FAUNA
34
APPENDIX 4
JAMBA/CAMBA AND BONN SPECIES
37
APPENDIX 5
RESOURCE LIST FOR KERANG WETLANDS
38
APPENDIX 6
KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR INFORMATION SHEET
40
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE II
Glossary
BWE
Bulk Water Entitlement
CAMBA
China - Australia Migratory Bird Agreement
DCFL
former Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands (now DSE)
DOI
Department of Infrastructure
DPI
Department of Primary Industries
DSE
Department of Sustainability and Environment
DEH
Commonwealth Department of Environment and Heritage
EC
Electrical Conductivity: 1 EC is equivalent to 0.6 mg/L of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
ECC
former Environment Conservation Council
GMW
Goulburn-Murray Water
IUCN
International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (World Conservation Union)
JAMBA
Japan - Australia Migratory Bird Agreement
LCC
former Land Conservation Council
MDBC
Murray-Darling Basin Commission
ML
Megalitre
NCCMA
North Central Catchment Management Authority
NRE
former Department of Natural Resources and Environment (now DSE or DPI)
PV
Parks Victoria
SFMP
Streamflow Management Plan
SMP
Strategic Management Plan
TDS
Total Dissolved Solids
TIS
Torrumbarry Irrigation System
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE III
1
Introduction
The Strategic Management Plan for the Kerang
Wetlands Ramsar site is an integral component of a
program to develop a comprehensive management
framework for Victoria’s Wetlands of International
Importance (or ‘Ramsar sites’) listed under the
Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971). The
primary goal of the management framework is to
maintain the ecological character of Victoria’s
Ramsar sites through conservation and wise use.
5.
Manage resource utilisation on a sustainable
basis.
6.
Protect and, where appropriate, enhance
ecosystem processes, habitats and species.
7.
Encourage strong partnerships between
management agencies.
8.
Promote community awareness and
understanding and provide opportunities for
involvement in management.
1.1
9.
Ensure recreational use is consistent with the
protection of natural and cultural values.
Strategic Directions Statement
The Strategic Directions Statement establishes
Management Objectives for Victoria’s Ramsar sites
and Statewide Management Strategies to achieve
these objectives (NRE 2002). The Strategic
Management Plans for the individual Victorian
Ramsar sites apply the Management Objectives and
Statewide Management Strategies, promoting a
range of specific management actions that will
maintain, and in some cases restore the ecological
character of the sites. Individual plans cover 10 of
Victoria’s 11 Ramsar sites. Victoria’s eleventh
Ramsar site, the Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands, was
listed in 2001 and is covered by a separate
management plan. A diagram of the framework and
related documents is shown below in Figure 1.1.
The Strategic Directions Statement provides the
overarching policy framework for managing Ramsar
sites in Victoria. It establishes Management
Objectives for Ramsar site management across the
State, which are then translated to the site-specific
level by each of the Strategic Management Plans.
The Management Objectives outlined by the
Strategic Directions Statement are as follows:
10. Develop ongoing consistent programs to
monitor ecological character.
The Strategic Directions Statement also provides
background information on the suite of relevant
international conventions, as well as related
Commonwealth and State policy and legislation
which directs and supports the management of
Ramsar sites. The Strategic Directions Statement
and Strategic Management Plans are therefore
intended to be read as complementary documents.
1.2
Purpose of the Strategic
Management Plan
The primary purpose of the Strategic Management
Plan (SMP) for the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site is
to facilitate conservation and wise use of the site so
as to maintain, and where practical restore, the
ecological values for which it is recognised as a
Ramsar wetland. This will be achieved by
implementing site-specific management strategies
under each of the key objectives (derived from the
Strategic Directions Statement).
The SMP for the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site
provides management agencies and stakeholders
with an appropriate management framework and the
necessary information to ensure that decisions
regarding land use and development, and ongoing
management are made with full regard for wetland
values in environmental, social and economic terms.
1. Increase the scientific understanding of wetland
ecosystems and their management
requirements.
2. Maintain or seek to restore appropriate water
regimes.
3. Address adverse processes and activities.
4. Manage Ramsar sites within an integrated
catchment management framework.
Figure 1.1
Framework for the strategic management of Victoria’s Ramsar sites
STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS
STATEMENT FOR
VICTORIA’S RAMSAR SITES
BARMAH
FOREST
CORNER
INLET
GIPPSLAND
LAKES
GUNBOWER
FOREST
KERANG
WETLANDS
HATTAHKULKYNE
LAKES
LAKE
ALBACUTYA
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PORT
PHILLIPBAY
WESTERN
DISTRICT
LAKES
PAGE 1
WESTERN
PORT
1.3
The SMP has been structured in order to:

provide a comprehensive site description;

examine the legislation, policy and any related
management instruments which direct or
otherwise influence management both within and
adjacent to the site;

clarify the roles and responsibilities of
management agencies;

identify the values for which the site is recognised
as a Ramsar site;

assess threats to these values through systematic
analysis of both current and potential risks; and

give priority to Site Management Strategies that
minimise and, where possible, eliminate identified
risks to values.
Figure 1.2
Consultative framework
The SMP has been developed collaboratively through
a multi-disciplinary team comprised of Parks Victoria
staff from regional and central offices. Throughout the
process key local stakeholders have provided input
(see Figure 1.2).
The SMP is a public document that has been
formalised through a government approval process. As
such, the Kerang Wetlands SMP was subject to a
public comment phase commensurate with State
Government consultative processes. All comments
received during the public consultation phase were
considered in finalising the document.
The SMP is intended to operate over a six-year time
frame and will be reviewed every three years to
coincide with national reporting requirements under the
Convention on Wetlands.
Process for developing the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar Site Strategic Management Plan
MULTI-DISCIPLIMARY
PROJECT TEAM
KEY LOCAL
STAKEHOLDERS
LOCAL REFERENCE
GROUP
PUBLIC COMMENT ON
DRAFT DOCUMENT
KERANG WETLANDS
STRATEGIC
MANAGEMENT PLAN
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 2
2
Ramsar Site Description
2.1
Location
The Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site is located
approximately 300 km northwest of Melbourne. The
wetlands are located on the western extremity of the
Riverine Plain and are part of an extensive wetland
system of over 100 wetlands that occurs within the
Loddon-Murray Region (Figure 2.1). The Ramsar
site wetlands cover an area of approximately
9,419 ha and feature a variety of permanent and
temporary wetlands, including permanent freshwater
lagoons, permanent open freshwater lakes, deep
freshwater marshes, saline and hypersaline lakes.
2.2
Wetland type
Within the Kerang Wetlands four inland wetland
types and one human-made wetland type are
recognised under the classification system used by
the Ramsar Convention (Ramsar Convention
Bureau 1997). Several of the wetlands represent a
number of wetland types as shown in Table 2.1.
In Victoria, a system has been used to classify
wetlands that is different to the Ramsar Convention
classification. Wetlands are classified into eight
categories (Corrick and Norman 1980). The Kerang
Wetlands Ramsar site includes areas of six wetland
types under this system: deep freshwater marsh,
permanent open freshwater, shallow freshwater
marsh, permanent saline, semi permanent saline
and sewage pond (Table 2.2).
2.3
Criteria met for Ramsar listing
To be listed as Wetlands of International Importance,
wetlands must meet one or more internationally
accepted criteria in relation to their zoology, botany,
ecology, hydrology or limnology and importance to
waterbirds. The Ramsar Convention updated the
criteria in 1999. The new criteria will be applied to
Kerang Wetlands when the site Ramsar Information
Sheet is next updated in 2005. The former Ramsar
criteria for which the Kerang Wetlands were listed in
1982 are:
1(a)
it is a particularly good representative of a
natural or near-natural wetland
characteristic of one, or common to more
than one, biogeographical region;
1(b)
it is a representative of a wetland which
plays an important role in the natural
functioning of a major river basin or coastal
system, especially where located in a
trans-border position;
2(b)
it is of special value for maintaining the
genetic and ecological diversity of the
flora and fauna of a region;
3(a)
it regularly supports >20,000 waterbirds;
3(b)
it regularly supports substantial numbers
of individuals from particular groups of
waterbirds; and
3(c)
it regularly supports 1% of the individuals of
a population of one species or subspecies
of waterbirds.
The listing of the Kerang Wetlands was made on the
basis of their values in 1982 in the context of the
purposes for which the various wetlands are
managed. Their management purposes are in
accordance with government accepted Land
Conservation Council recommendations (LCC 1989;
LCC 1985). As most of the wetlands in the site were
not in their natural state at the time of listing, the
challenge in managing the wetlands is to enhance
their ecological functions and values while
sustainably managing their approved uses.
2.4
Land tenure and management
The Kerang Wetland Ramsar site is managed by
Parks Victoria, Goulburn-Murray Water, the
Department of Sustainability and Environment, the
Shire of Gannawarra and Lower Murray Water under
the provisions of relevant legislation (refer to Table
2.3).
Eight wetlands within the Kerang Wetland Ramsar
site, including First Marsh, Second Marsh, Third
Marsh, Little Lake Charm, Lake Cullen, Stevenson
Swamp, Hird Swamp, Johnson Swamp and part of
Cemetery Swamp are reserved under the Crown
Land (Reserves) Act 1978 and are managed under
the Wildlife Act 1975.
Other lakes reserved under the Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978 are utilised for a range of other
purposes including water supply (Reedy Lakes, Little
Lake Charm, Lake Charm, Racecourse Lake and
Kangaroo Lake) and salinity disposal (Lake Kelly,
Little Lake Kelly, Lake William and Lake Tutchewop).
These reserves are managed by Goulburn-Murray
Water.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 3
Table 2.1
Ramsar wetland types present in the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site1
Wetland Type
Freshwater
treedominated
wetland
Permanent
freshwater
lakes >8ha
Wetland
Seasonal /
intermittent
saline /
brackish /
alkaline lakes
and flats
Permanent
saline /
brackish /
alkaline
lakes
Lake Tutchewop

Lake William

Lake Kelly

Little Lake Kelly

Kangaroo Lake

Racecourse Lake

Lake Charm

Little Lake Charm

Permanent
freshwater
marshes /
pools
Top (Third) Marsh



Middle (Second)
Marsh



Bottom (First)
Marsh



Lake Bael Bael



Wastewater
treatment
areas2

Lake Cullen
Stevenson
Swamp


Third Lake


Middle Lake


Reedy Lake


Back Swamp

Town Swamp

Cemetery Swamp


Fosters Swamp
Johnson Swamp

Hird Swamp

1
- the classifications are based on information from the DSE geospatial data layer WETLAND_1994.
2
- wastewater treatment areas include sewage farms, settlement ponds, oxidation basins etc.
2.5
Adjacent land use
The area surrounding the Kerang Wetlands supports
a diverse range of agricultural industries including
irrigated grazing, horticulture, dairy farms, dryland
grazing and cropping enterprises. The township of
Kerang is adjacent to the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar
site.
The overall health of the wetland catchments and the
management of irrigation also play an important role
in the ecological status of the wetlands.
2.6
Catchment setting
The Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site is located in the
lower reaches of the Loddon and Avoca catchments
in a regional groundwater discharge zone.
Groundwater levels in the catchment have increased
significantly over the past 100 years and salinisation
processes have degraded many of the low-lying
wetlands.
The wetlands also receive inflows from the
Torrumbarry Irrigation System. As well as salt, the
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 4
catchments contribute high nutrient and sediment
levels (NCCMA 2002a).
The Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site is located at the
junction of three major floodplains, associated with
the Avoca, Loddon and Murray Rivers, and includes
a large number of wetlands, swamps, lakes and
waterways (other than the Ramsar wetlands) that
have high environmental values including habitat for
bird species (KLAWG 1993).
Prior to European settlement the area surrounding
the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site was characterised
Table 2.2
by an abundance of natural lakes and swamps that
were filled at irregular intervals by floodwater from
the Loddon, Avoca and Murray Rivers. The
agricultural and commercial development of the area
has altered the nature and extent of all these natural
areas through grazing, clearing, altered water
regimes, induced salinity and competition from
introduced species (KLAWG 1993).
2.7
Local Government
The Kerang Wetland Ramsar site is located within
the Shire of Gannawarra.
Area (ha) of Victorian wetland types present in the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site1
Wetland Type
Wetland
Deep
freshwater
marsh
Permanent
open
freshwater2
Shallow
freshwater
marsh
Permanent
saline2
Lake Tutchewop
752
Lake William
96
Lake Kelly and
Little Lake Kelly
192
Kangaroo Lake
984
Racecourse Lake
235
Little Lake Charm
113
Lake Charm
Semipermanent
saline
Sewage
pond
6
520
Top (Third) Marsh
946
Middle (Second)
Marsh
233
3
Bottom (First)
Marsh
780
Lake Bael Bael
648
Lake Cullen
632
Stevenson
Swamp
8
Third Lake
234
Middle Lake
196
Reedy Lake
196
Back Swamp
46
Town Swamp
80
Cemetery Swamp
89
Fosters Swamp
219
Johnson Swamp
411
Hird Swamp
344
6
1. - Source: DSE geospatial data layer WETLAND_1994.
2. - wetlands are described to be permanent if they retain water for longer than 12 months, however they can have periods of
drying.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 5
Table 2.3
Land tenure and management
Wetland
Land tenure
Legal Status
Management Agency
Water source
The Marshes (Bottom,
Middle and Top
Marshes*)
Natural Features
Reserve - Wildlife
Reserve
Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978
Parks Victoria
Avoca River
Lake Kelly and Little
Lake Kelly
Salinity Disposal
Reserve
Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978
DSE, Goulburn-Murray
Water
Barr Creek
Lake William
Salinity Disposal
Reserve
Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978
DSE, Goulburn-Murray
Water
Barr Creek
Lake Tutchewop
Salinity Disposal
Reserve
Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978
Goulburn-Murray Water
(on behalf of the MurrayDarling Basin Commission)
Barr Creek
Reedy Lakes
Water Supply Reserve
and Wildlife Reserve
Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978
DSE, Goulburn-Murray
Water
Torrumbarry
Irrigation System
Little Lake Charm
Water Supply Reserve
Freehold land owned
by Goulburn-Murray
Water
Goulburn-Murray Water
Torrumbarry
Irrigation System
Lake Charm
Water Supply Reserve
Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978
Goulburn-Murray Water
Torrumbarry
Irrigation System
Racecourse Lake
Water Supply Reserve
Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978
Goulburn-Murray Water
Torrumbarry
Irrigation System
Kangaroo Lake
Water Supply Reserve
Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978
Goulburn-Murray Water
Torrumbarry
Irrigation System
Lake Cullen
Natural Features
Reserve – Wildlife
Reserve
Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978
Parks Victoria
Torrumbarry
Irrigation System
Hird Swamp
Natural Features
Reserve – Wildlife
Reserve
Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978
Parks Victoria
Torrumbarry
Irrigation System
Johnson Swamp
Natural Features
Reserve – Wildlife
Reserve
Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978
Parks Victoria
Pyramid Creek /
Torrumbarry
Irrigation System
Stevenson Swamp
Natural Features
Reserve – Wildlife
Reserve
Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978
Parks Victoria
-
Fosters Swamp
Sewerage Purposes
Reserve
Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978
Lower Murray Water
Tertiary treated
wastewater
Town Swamp
Public land vested in
Water Authority
Water Act 1989
Goulburn-Murray Water
Loddon River
Back Swamp
Public land vested in
Water Authority
Water Act 1989
Goulburn-Murray Water
Loddon River
Cemetery Swamp
Natural Features
Reserve – Wildlife
Reserve
Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978
Parks Victoria
Loddon River
Timber Reserve
Forests Act 1958
DSE
Municipal Purposes
Reserve
Crown Land
(Reserves) Act 1978
Gannawarra Shire
*Also known as First,Second and Third Marsh
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 6
Table 2.4
Lead management agencies and their key responsibilities
Agency
Responsibility
Local
agency
Responsibility
Department of
Sustainability and
Environment (DSE)
Strategic direction for park and
reserve management; flora and fauna
management and implementation of
the Ramsar Convention in Victoria;
catchment and water management,
forest management, coastal and port
management; leasing, licensing and
management of public land, strategic
and statutory land use planning
including the administration of the
Victorian Planning Provisions.
DSE (Kerang
and Bendigo)
Advise on and/or manage the land
component of Reedy Lakes, Little
Lake Kelly and Lake Kelly and Lake
William. Provide policy advice on
and part-manage Cemetery
Swamp. Provide policy advice for
the management of all of the
Kerang Wetlands Ramsar sites.
Manage Flora and Fauna
environmental water allocation,
hunting and domestic stock grazing
licenses.
Department of Primary
Industries (DPI)
Provides strategic direction for
fisheries management and research,
agricultural services and sustainable
development of Victoria's energy and
mineral resources.
Fisheries
Victoria
Manage recreational fishing for the
Ramsar site in accordance with
Fisheries Act 1995.
Parks Victoria
Manage parks and reserves.
Parks Victoria
(Kerang and
Bendigo)
Manage the land and water
components of The Marshes and
Lake Cullen, Stevenson, Hird,
Johnson and Cemetery Swamps.
Local Government /
Shires
Regulate local development through
planning schemes, on-ground works.
Manage urban drainage.
Gannawarra
Shire
Administer planning scheme. Part
management of Cemetery Swamp.
Management of the infrastructure
within Town and Back Swamps,
and bird hide at Reedy Lakes.
Management of boating at Lake
Charm and boating and camping at
Lake Kangaroo.
Committees of
Management
Manage reserved Crown Land on
behalf of the Minister. Committees
are usually the local Shire or publicly
elected.
Kangaroo
Lake
Committee of
Management
Manage the western foreshore of
Kangaroo Lake.
Murray-Darling Basin
Commission
Manage the River Murray and the
Menindee Lakes system of the lower
Darling River. Advise the Natural
Resource Management Ministerial
Council on matters related to the use
of environmental resources of the
Murray-Darling Basin.
n/a
Work cooperatively with partner
governments, committees and
community groups to develop and
implement policies and programs
aimed at integrated management of
the Murray-Darling Catchment.
Victorian Catchment
Management Council
Advise State Government on
catchment management, and land
and water resource issues and
priorities. Encourage cooperation
between land and water managers.
Promote community awareness on
catchment management issues.
North Central
Catchment
Management
Authority
Implement Regional Catchment
Strategies. Prepare and implement
Action Plans. Manage surrounding
catchment and inflowing streams.
Environment Protection
Authority (EPA)
Coordinate all activities relating to the
discharge of waste into the
environment and the generation,
storage, treatment, transport and
disposal of industrial waste and the
emission of noise and for preventing
or controlling pollution and noise and
protecting and improving the quality
of the environment.
EPA Bendigo
Licence sewage and other
discharges. Monitor water quality.
Develop State Environment
Protection Policies (SEPPs) for
specified segments of the
environment - e.g. SEPP (Waters of
Victoria).
Urban Water Authority
Provide water and sewerage service
to urban communities.
Lower Murray
Water
Provide water and sewerage
service to Kerang. Monitor licensed
discharge of treated wastewater
from treatment lagoons.
Rural Water Authority
Provide irrigation, drainage, water
supply, management of specific water
supply catchments.
GoulburnMurray Water
Manage the Torrumbarry Irrigation
System. Regulate agricultural
extraction. Protect managed
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 7
reserves.
3
Policy Framework
The suite of relevant international conventions, and
the Commonwealth and Victorian legislation and
policy that directs management and use of Ramsar
sites are outlined in the Strategic Directions
Statement. This Chapter covers the local policy
framework comprising plans, strategies and
municipal planning provisions.
3.1
Strategies
There are a range of existing plans and strategies
that provide for the protection and enhancement of
the natural and cultural values of the Kerang
Wetlands Ramsar site. Victoria has a strong
planning framework and as a result these plans and
strategies demonstrate a high level of integrated
planning and address many aspects of wise use.
2002;

Regional Floodplain Management Strategy
(2000);

Swan Hill Regional Flood Strategy (1999).
Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) in
Victoria are currently reviewing their Regional
Catchment Strategies. The revised regional
catchment strategies will guide future investment in
the catchment under some State natural resource
management programs, the National Action Plan for
Salinity and Water Quality and the Natural Heritage
Trust. This Strategic Management Plan will be
recognised under the North Central Regional
Catchment Strategic framework.
Operational plans for several wetlands have been
prepared. These include:
The North Central Catchment Management
Authority (NCCMA) has adopted a tiered planning
framework. The first tier consists of the Regional
Catchment Strategy which sets strategic direction
and a Regional Management Plan which defines
resource allocation and performance targets on an
annual basis. Whole of Catchment Plans for each
catchment in the Catchment Management Authority
(CMA) area form the second tier. The third and
fourth tiers in this framework are regional and
catchment or sub-catchment based plans that are
framed around specific natural resource issues. The
CMA plans and strategies relevant to the Kerang
Wetlands include:

Reedy Lakes Environmental Status Report
(2001);

Cemetery Swamp Feasibility Study and
Operational Guidelines (2001);

Johnson Swamp (West Side) Watering and
Operational Plan (2001);

Lake Cullen Feasibility Study and Operational
Guidelines (2001); and

Hird Swamp (West Side) Watering and
Operational Plan (2001).

North Central Regional Catchment Strategy
(1997) Reviewed 2003;


Avoca Nutrient Management Strategy (2002);
Entitlements to the Murray – outcomes of work
to define how Victoria’s River Murray water is to
be shared (1999);

Avoca Whole of Catchment Plan 2000-2002;


Draft North Central Native Vegetation Plan
(2000);
Environmental Water Allocation (27,600 ML)
Annual Works Program (prepared annually);

Loddon Catchment Water Quality Strategy
(Draft) (2002);
27,600 ML Environmental Water Allocation
Review of Usage (prepared annually); and

Kerang Lakes Wetlands Flooding Planner
(prepared annually).


Loddon Murray Land and Water Management
Strategy (2002);
Strategies and plans relating to allocation and
management of environmental water include:

Loddon Murray Regional Rural Partnership
Program for a Sustainable Economy Beyond
2000 (1997).
The future management of the Tutchewop Lakes
(Lakes Tutchewop, William, Kelly and Little Kelly) as
a salinity disposal basin has been assessed in a
number of reports including:

Loddon Whole of Catchment Plan 2000-2002;


North Central Catchment Management
Authority Regional Floodplain Management
Strategy (2000);
Ecological Assessment of Future Management
Options for the Tutchewop Lakes; and

Lake Tutchewop Sustainability: Projections of
Physical Conditions to the Tutchewop Lakes
(1999).

North Central Catchment Management
Authority Regional Management Plan 2001-
DRAFT STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 8
A number of government strategies and programs
have the potential to impact on the future
management of the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site
by influencing future land and water use at a State or
regional scale. These include the following:





The Government’s ‘Water for the Future’
agenda aims to secure sustainable water
supplies for Victoria’s future. Two of the four
major targets of the ‘Water for the Future’ policy
have the potential to influence the future
management of the Kerang Wetlands. These
are: increasing the efficiency of irrigation
systems across the State by 25 per cent by
2020 through replacing channel systems with
pipelines and other improvements and reform;
and significantly improving the ecological health
of Victoria's rivers by 2010 by increasing
environmental flows and undertaking riverbank
and catchment management works. The
government released ‘Securing our Water
Future: a Green Paper for Discussion’ (DSE
2003c) in August 2003 to engage the
community in the details of meeting water
sustainability and conservation goals.
Water trading allows water to be permanently or
temporarily traded from one region to another to
promote more efficient use. Water has been
permanently traded away from the Kerang area
over the last decade (NRE 2001). Currently this
amounts to about 4% of the total water right for
the Loddon Murray region per annum (NCCMA
2002c).
The Government’s Water for Growth Initiative
sets out strategies for sustainable and effective
management of water. Improved efficiency in
water delivery and use will change patterns of
water distribution and use in irrigation areas like
Kerang.
Water savings projects in Victoria are aimed at
improving water use efficiency to achieve
savings that can be made available for new
developments or environmental uses. The
Government has adopted principles applying to
water efficiency projects that include the
protection and improvement of environmental
outcomes.
The Basin Salinity Management Strategy 20012015 (Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council,
2001) guides communities and Governments in
controlling salinity. It establishes end-of-valley
salinity targets for each tributary valley in the
Murray-Darling Basin and for Morgan in South
Australia. It uses a system of salinity credits and
debits to allow flexibility in governments meeting
their targets. Salt credits are required for any
proposed project that increases salt loads into
the Murray.
These programs are likely to bring changes in land
and water management, as well as affect options for
salt disposal. Outcomes may either constrain future
Ramsar site management options or create
opportunities. It is important to ensure that impacts
and benefits are assessed in an integrated way
based on agreed environmental, economic and
social values of wetlands in the Ramsar site.
The Kerang-Swan Hill Future Land Use Pilot Project
is investigating future land use options in the area
and will use the Kerang Lakes as a case study. The
project is in response to large changes in the
irrigation industry. It is exploring how to optimise local
infrastructure while considering social and
environmental impacts, water use, floodplain
management, economic growth and land use
planning outcomes.
The Loddon Murray Irrigation Region Co-ordination
Forum Technical Management Group is developing
a wetland prioritisation framework for wetlands in the
Kerang area. The framework involves a detailed risk
analysis of activities across all wetlands, including
those in the Ramsar site. The analysis will assist in
setting priority wetlands for management of risks.
Management options will then be considered for
priority wetlands.
Three recently developed statewide strategies are
relevant to the management of Kerang Wetlands
Forest Ramsar site.
The Victorian River Health Strategy (VRHS) provides
a framework that enables Government and
community to manage and restore rivers in the
State. The VRHS aims to achieve healthy rivers,
streams and floodplains which meet the
environmental, economic, recreational and cultural
needs of current and future generations (NRE
2002d). The VRHS establishes regional planning
processes for CMAs to prepare regional river health
strategies which will coordinate other river-related
action plans and direct the development of annual
works programs.
The Indigenous Partnership Strategy (NRE 2001)
provides the framework for building effective
relationships with Indigenous communities, who
have a fundamental role in the management of
Victoria’s natural resources, as traditional custodians
of the land and waters. This strategy sets out key
initiatives to assist in the development and delivery of
services to Indigenous people, which should be
applied during management planning.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 9
Victoria’s Native Vegetation Management – A
Framework for Action (NRE 2002e) establishes the
strategic direction for the protection, enhancement
and revegetation of native vegetation across the
State. The framework focuses on managing native
vegetation to provide sustainable landscapes and to
protect productive capacity and environmental
values of land and water resources.
In addition, wetlands in the Kerang Wetlands
Ramsar site are listed in A Directory of Important
Wetlands in Australia - 3rd Edition (EA 2001) and
support migratory bird species listed under the
Japan-Australia and China-Australia Migratory Bird
Agreements (JAMBA and CAMBA).
3.2
Municipal Strategic Statements,
zoning and overlays
Gannawarra Shire Council has a Municipal Strategic
Statement (MSS) and local policies as part of their
planning scheme, which recognise the
environmental values and importance of the Kerang
Wetlands.
Zoning pursuant to the Planning and Environment
Act 1987 has been applied to the Kerang Wetlands
Ramsar site as part of a review of local planning
schemes to control land use and development. The
zoning for the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site
includes Public Conservation and Resource Zone
(PCRZ) and Public Use Zone – Service and Utility
(PUZ1). All wetlands in the Ramsar site are in the
PCRZ with the exception of Fosters Swamp which is
in PUZ1.
Furthermore, as part of the local planning scheme
review, the Environmental Significance Overlay
(ESO3) has been applied to all wetlands in the
Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site. The purpose of this
overlay is to:

recognise the important function and
significance of existing lakes in the land pattern;

protect the visual and environmental quality and
character of the lakes and their environs;

provide for appropriate development on land
adjacent to Lake Charm, Kangaroo Lake and
Racecourse Lake, consistent with the inherent
use of the area for tourist, holiday and
recreational purposes, while protecting the
natural beauty and amenity of the land and
lakes themselves;

maintain the function of the lakes as a flood
control basin; and

protect the natural beauty of the area.
It is important that a strategic approach is taken to
addressing planning issues to protect Ramsar
wetlands. It has been recognised that some land use
changes in the region have the potential to impact on
wetland values. These include irrigation
development and a pattern of increasing residential
development adjacent to lakes. Irrigation
development is subject to strict irrigation
development guidelines.
The purpose of the PCRZ is to:

protect and conserve the natural environment
and natural processes for their historic,
scientific, landscape, habitat or cultural values;

provide facilities which assist in public education
and interpretation of the natural environment
with minimal degradation of the natural
environment or natural processes; and

provide for appropriate resource uses.
The purpose of the PUZ1 is to:

recognise public land use for public utility and
community services and facilities (the number
“1” indicating the purpose of the public land is
Service and Utility and in the case of Fosters
Swamp this relates to storage of treated
wastewater); and

provide for associated uses that are consistent
with the intent of the public land reservation or
purpose.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 10
4
Values
The key environmental values of the Kerang
Wetlands Ramsar site for which it was listed
(representativeness, flora and fauna and waterbirds)
are summarised below. Other values described
include natural function, cultural heritage, scenic,
economic, education and interpretation, recreation
and tourism, and scientific.
4.1
Wetland representativeness
The Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site represents six of
the eight Victorian wetland categories (Table 2.2). All
of the wetlands within the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar
sites were modified from their original pre-European
condition prior to their inclusion as Ramsar sites. In
particular, the water regimes of the wetlands were
significantly modified with the development of the
Torrumbarry Irrigation System in the 1920s, and the
associated changes to the landscape, such as rising
groundwater and associated salinity, which have had
a major effect on the ecology and environmental
values of the region’s wetlands.
The individual wetlands that are listed as part of the
Kerang Wetlands Ramsar sites are a relatively small
subset of a larger wetland complex that occurs within
the Loddon-Murray Region. Many of the unlisted
wetlands are recognised as having high
environmental value (e.g. Tragowel Swamp,
Wandella State Forest).
Table 4.1
The Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site includes areas of
the State’s most depleted wetland habitats and
wetlands least represented in Victoria’s protected
area network (Table 4.1). Only 30% of deep
freshwater marsh areas remain in Victoria making it
one of the most depleted wetland types. The Kerang
Wetlands Ramsar site represents more than 12% of
the remaining deep freshwater marsh in Victoria.
4.2
Flora and fauna
More than 150 species of indigenous flora have
been recorded at the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site
(DSE 2003b). No flora species recorded in the
Ramsar site are listed under the Flora and Fauna
Guarantee Act 1988. However, eight flora species
listed as threatened in Victoria have been recorded
at the Ramsar site and a further seven species are
suspected of being threatened (Appendix 2).
The Ramsar site supports a range of vegetation
including Black Box and River Red Gum, Tangled
Lignum, Chenopod Shrubland, Grassland, Reedbed
and Aquatic plant communities (O’Donnell 1990).
The Black Box woodland communities such as at
Third Marsh and Cemetery Swamp are a particularly
valuable vegetation community. Spiny Lignum is
suspected of being threatened in Victoria and occurs
at many of the wetlands in the Ramsar site.
Representativeness of Victorian wetland types in the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site
PreEuropean
area (ha) in
Victoria
Area (ha)
remaining
in Victoria
Area (ha) in
Victoria’s protected
area network
Ramsar
coverage in
Victoria (ha)
Kerang
Wetlands
(ha)
Deep Freshwater Marsh
176,601
54,860
21,877
9,041
1,934
Permanent Open
Freshwater
70,658
190,6941
55,729
25,352
2,632
Permanent Saline
155,608
154,191
70,778
131,743
1,627
Semi-permanent Saline
67,404
70,272
40,409
12,867
344
Shallow Freshwater
Marsh
127,031
54,603
9,410
8,147
248
Wetland type
1
the increase from Pre-European area to area remaining is due to the construction of dams, weirs and other impoundments.
Source: DSE geospatial data layer WETLAND_1994.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 11
The Kerang Wetlands provide habitat for over 102
species of indigenous fauna. Of these, twenty-four
species are listed under the Victorian Flora and
Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Appendix 3). In addition,
thirty-two species listed as threatened in Victoria
have been recorded at the Kerang Wetlands
Ramsar site with a further seventeen species nearthreatened (Appendix 3). Of these, the Macquarie
Perch, Murray Hardyhead, Warty Bell Frog and
Plains-wanderer are listed as threatened in Australia
under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity
Conservation Act 1999 (Appendix 3). Fifteen bird
species listed under the Japan-Australia Migratory
Birds Agreement (JAMBA) and 18 species under the
China-Australia Migratory Birds Agreement
(CAMBA) utilise the Kerang Wetlands for feeding
and roosting (Appendix 4). Fifteen of these species
are common to both agreements. The Kerang
Wetlands also have 32 species listed under the
Bonn Convention (Appendix 4).
4.3
Waterbirds
Waterbird populations are particularly diverse and
abundant within the Kerang Wetlands, with the
wetlands providing important feeding, resting and
breeding habitat for more than 50 waterbird species.
Middle Lake and Hird Swamp in particular support
large Ibis breeding colonies with tens of thousands of
pairs at each site. Middle Lake is the largest regularly
used Ibis rookery in Victoria.
Waterbird records show that Third Marsh is
important to Eurasian Coot, Grey Teal and
Hardheads. Third Marsh was the third most
important wetland for Coot with 3,000 counted in
Victoria in 1989 (Peter 1989); the most important
wetland for Grey Teal (7,000 counted); and the fifth
most important for Hardheads (85 counted) in 1988
(Hewish 1988). Third Marsh also supports the
endangered Freckled Duck (maximum of 436
sighted by Corrick and Norman 1980) and the
threatened Blue-billed Duck (Peter 1990).
Records show that First Marsh has had up to 200
nests for Great Cormorant, 120 for Little Black
Cormorant and 300 for Little Pied Cormorant
(Corrick and Norman 1980). Approximately 300
Darter nests were recorded in 1989 at Second
Marsh (Lugg et al. 1989).
In most years Lake Bael Bael has been found to
support the endangered Freckled Duck and Little
Bittern.
Middle Lake supports more than 10% of the regional
breeding population of Straw-necked Ibis and
Sacred Ibis and more than 5% of Victoria’s breeding
population of Royal Spoonbill. Reedy and Middle
Lakes support the threatened Blue-billed Duck.
Middle Lake also occasionally supports Freckled
Duck.
Freckled Duck have also been recorded at Kangaroo
Lake. At times the lake supports significant numbers
of Pink-eared Duck and Hardhead. These lakes can
act as drought refuges.
Lake Charm supports 5% of the state or 10% of the
regional population of Great Crested Grebe.
Freckled Ducks have been recorded at the site. Lake
Charm, Little Lake Charm, Kangaroo Lake and
Racecourse Lake can act as drought refuges,
however due to their water management regimes
(permanent wetlands with little fluctuation in the
littoral zone) they do not provide good nesting or
feeding habitat for a range of different species.
Johnson Swamp also supports the endangered
Freckled Duck.
Hird Swamp supports regionally significant numbers
of Pacific Black Duck and Maned Duck. Hird Swamp
is a regionally significant breeding site for Strawnecked Ibis, Sacred Ibis and Royal Spoonbill.
Freckled Ducks and Blue-billed Ducks have also
been recorded at this site.
Lake Cullen is of special value because it supports a
high diversity and abundance of waterbird species.
Lake Cullen supports 1% of the national population
of Eurasian Coot, Hardhead, Hoary-headed Grebe,
Pink-eared Duck and Grey Teal (Lugg 1989, Corrick
1982, Peter 1990). Blue-billed Duck have also been
reported from this site (Corrick 1982). Although
Freckled Duck were recorded in significant numbers
in the 1980s, more recent counts indicate numbers
have decreased (Coleborn, pers. comm.).
Fosters Swamp has high water bird carrying capacity
and species diversity (Lugg et al. 1989).
When the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site was listed
in 1982, Lake Tutchewop supported significant
numbers of Hoary-headed Grebe and Australian
Shelduck. Corrick (1982) reported regular usage of
the site by Freckled Duck. Lake Tutchewop’s
capacity to support large numbers of waterbirds may
have been compromised by increased salinity levels.
4.4
Natural function
Natural functions are activities or actions which occur
naturally in wetlands as a product of the interactions
between the ecosystem structure and processes.
The Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site provides a suite
of important functions including wildlife habitat, water
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 12
supply, flood control and salt disposal. Invertebrate
diversity also plays an important role in supporting
natural functions and contributing to overall
biodiversity.
Applications for Native Title Determinations
lodged with the Native Title Tribunal cover the
whole area including the Ramsar site.
The important natural functions supported by the
Kerang wetlands are not just beneficial to the
wetlands and the immediate local area, they also
have positive implications for the wider catchment.
4.6
4.5
Aboriginal cultural heritage
The Kerang Wetlands are rich in Aboriginal
cultural heritage. The Lakes provided reliable
sources of water as well as a rich and diverse
supply of plant and animal resources for food,
medicines, shelter, clothing and tools.
All Aboriginal sites, places and objects are
protected under the Archaeological and
Aboriginal Relics Preservation Act 1972 (Vic.)
and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Heritage Protection Act 1984 (Cwth).
To date, a total of 425 Aboriginal sites have been
registered on the Aboriginal Affairs Victoria
(Department for Victorian Communities) Register
of Aboriginal sites and places in the Kerang
Lakes Area (this area extends beyond the
Ramsar listed wetlands). These sites include
mounds, scarred trees, middens, burials, hearths,
surface scatters and isolated artefacts. The sites
occur on river plains and floodplains within 2
kilometres of watercourses, on the margins of
swamps, levees, river banks and on lunettes
around swamps. Further survey is likely to reveal
more archaeological sites.
The local Aboriginal communities are the North West
Nations Clans Aboriginal Corporation and the former
Bendigo Dja Dja Wrung Aboriginal Association
Incorporated (now defunct). Traditional owner
groups are the Wamba Wamba and the Barapa
Barapa. Ongoing discussions need to take place
with local Aboriginal people in order to facilitate the
management of Aboriginal cultural heritage. In
particular, managers need to ensure that Aboriginal
heritage values are not adversely impacted in the
course of implementing other site management
strategies.
This is being facilitated by through the North West
Region Aboriginal Cultural Heritage program and the
recent Protocols, Principles and Strategies
Agreement for Indigenous Involvement in Land and
Water Management agreed between the North
Central Catchment Management Authority, the North
West Nations Clans Aboriginal Corporation and the
Yorta Yorta Aboriginal Corporation (VCMC 2003). In
future, management agencies will liaise with and
involve all relevant Indigenous communities.
Scenic
The Kerang Wetlands have high scenic values
because of the diversity of wetland types that provide
habitat for a wide variety of waterbirds.
4.7
Economic
The Kerang region has traditionally had an
agricultural and service based economy. There is an
increasing focus on irrigated agriculture which
produces horticultural, dairy, meat and grain
products. The gross value of agricultual production
for the Loddon-Murray region in 1999-2000 was
$399 million (NCCMA 2002c).
Recreation and tourism is also an important part of
the regional economy and is mostly dependent on
the ongoing viability of natural assets such as the
wetlands and the Red Gum forests.
4.8
Education and interpretation
The Kerang Wetlands provide an area of high
educational value, however, there has been little
interpretive material developed for the region. Until
the mid-1990s, interpretive services were offered at
the Koorangie Ranger Station. Now the main
educational feature of the area is the bird hide
located at Reedy Lake, which has an associated
information display. However, there are issues
relating to public risk that need to be addressed at
this site. There is potential for offering improved
education and interpretation services for the
wetlands.
The Waterwatch program provides an opportunity for
high levels of community involvement in water
monitoring programs.
4.9
Recreation and tourism
The Kerang Wetlands area is a valuable resource for
recreation and tourism. The value of the land for
recreation, in part, stems from its natural ecological
assets. Activities include scenic driving, sightseeing,
camping, picnicking, swimming, sailing, water skiing,
boating, fishing, hunting and bird watching and
nature study and appreciation.
Native fish (Murray Cod and Golden Perch) were
stocked into several wetlands in 2002 following the
buy-back of five Inland Access Fishing Licences with
funding from the Recreational Fishing Trust Fund.
The licence buy-back resulted in the cessation of
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 13
commercial net fishing for all species other than carp
in 2002.
Although many of these waters already contain ‘wild’
populations of golden perch, Murray cod, redfin and
carp, trial stockings and a formal monitoring program
will determine the contribution that stocked fish make
to the existing fish population.
To evaluate the success of these stockings, each of
the yearling Murray cod, weighing around 200 grams
at the time of release, were implanted with a dart tag.
Individually numbered, the tags also display a phone
number for anglers to ring when they catch the cod.
This way, researchers can tally the fish caught by
anglers and monitor their movement and their growth
rate as they approach minimum size.
Several other waters, no longer open to commercial
fishing (other than carp) will also be considered for
stocking when current low water levels, brought on
by drought, improve.
4.10
Scientific
The diversity and complexity of the Kerang Wetlands
provides opportunities for a range of scientific and
research orientated projects to be undertaken.
Students from Deakin University have undertaken
several studies in the area. Some scientific work has
been undertaken on groundwater / surface water
interaction and water movement within the Kerang
Lakes area. Generally the understanding of
groundwater with Kerang wetlands is still poor and
more work is required to expand on existing
knowledge. Both Sinclair Knight Merz and the Centre
for Land Protection Research (Bendigo) have been
studying the impact of groundwater movement on
wetlands.
4.11
well as the death of trees, there has been significant
alteration to natural vegetation patterns (i.e. changes
to saltbush and halophytic species).
Water Quality
The Kerang wetlands exhibit a full range of salinities
from very fresh to hypersaline. Water quality is
significantly affected by rising saline groundwater,
saline surface water run-off, lack of regular flushing
and prolonged inundation. The deep permanent
freshwater lakes (e.g. Kangaroo, Racecourse and
Reedy) have salinity levels less than 500 EC, as they
are regularly flushed with good quality water.
In contrast, salinity levels of wetlands such as Lake
Cullen (which has been isolated from the floodplain)
fluctuate in the range of 4,000 to 50,000 EC as part
of the wetting/drying cycle (by comparison, sea water
is approximately 50,000 EC).
Lakes Tutchewop, Kelly, Little Lake Kelly and
William are used as salt disposal basins and this has
caused their average salinity levels to rise steadily.
Sinclair Knight Merz (1999a) estimated that over
1.3 million tonnes of salt is now stored in these lakes.
Proposals to address this are described in section
5.2. High nutrient levels also have an impact on
water quality, particularly in relation to flora and
fauna habitat, recreational use and domestic supply.
Considerable work has been undertaken to mitigate
the introduction of nutrients and salt to the lakes. For
example, irrigation drainage reuse systems have
been established in some areas east of the Kerang
Wetlands that are utilised for intensive dairy farming.
Condition
Vegetation
The vegetation at the Kerang wetlands supports a
diversity of native flora species. However, clearing
for agricultural development has resulted in native
vegetation being confined to narrow corridors and
disjointed and isolated patches along streams,
around lakes and swamps and along roadsides.
Most of these areas have been subject to heavy
grazing pressures from adjacent farmland.
A combination of altered flooding regimes, high
salinity surface water and saline groundwater
intrusion have changed vegetation patterns and led
to the stress or death of trees and associated
vegetation in many of the wetlands of the Kerang
Wetlands Ramsar site. Absence of flooding has also
impacted on the vegetation in some wetlands. As
DRAFT STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 14
5
Management of Risks
The key risks to the maintenance of environmental
values in the Kerang Wetlands are discussed below
and summarised in Table 5.1. These risks are
altered water regimes, salinity, pollution, pest plants
and animals, resource utilisation, recreation, erosion,
dredging, fire and land management. These risks
result from activities within the wetlands themselves,
on adjacent land and within the catchment generally
and an integrated approach to their management is
required.
5.1
Altered water regimes
The Kerang area is supplied with irrigation water
from the Murray River via the Torrumbarry Irrigation
System (TIS). The TIS is an extensive, interlinked
system of channels, lakes, weirs and streams
(KLAWG 1993). Some wetlands in the Ramsar site
also receive water from the Avoca system (i.e. Top,
Middle and Bottom Marshes).
Several wetlands within the Kerang Wetlands
Ramsar site provide storage for the irrigation system
(i.e. Lake Charm and the Reedy Lakes, Kangaroo
and Racecourse Lakes); a number are used as
evaporation basins to reduce the salt discharge into
the River Murray (i.e. Lake Kelly, Little Lake Kelly,
Lake William and Lake Tutchewop); some are used
for flood mitigation; and many are valued for
recreational purposes.
The use of the Kerang wetlands for storage and
conveyance of irrigation water and the disposal of
drainage water has altered the natural hydrological
cycle (KLAWG 1993). These changes have affected
the natural environment of the wetlands in two major
ways:

alteration of natural flooding regimes (reduced
inundation and absence of natural flushing
flows, increased inundation, reversal of
seasonal flows);

increasing groundwater height and salinity (see
Section 5.3); and
These changes have reduced or resulted in the loss
of biodiversity supported by the Ramsar site.
Alteration of natural flooding regimes
Prior to European settlement, the Kerang Wetlands
and surrounding region was characterised by saline,
brackish and freshwater lakes, streams and semipermanent or permanent wetlands (KLAWG 1993).
Wide floodplains and flat topography allowed
widespread flooding and flushing of the lakes system
to occur. This flooding and flushing regime is central
to the ecology, natural processes, and biodiversity of
these wetlands.
Since European settlement and the commencement
of irrigation in the 1880s, water and flow regimes
have been dramatically altered in a variety of ways
with many impacts. These are discussed below.
Increased inundation
Some wetlands within the Kerang Lakes area that
were once ephemeral and intermittent wetlands
have become permanent lakes (e.g. Reedy Lakes).
Permanent or prolonged inundation has changed the
vegetation communities associated with the
wetlands. These wetlands are now dominated by
Cumbungi (Typha sp.) and have lost most of their
macrophytes. These changes significantly reduce
available fauna habitat.
Reduced inundation/absence of flushing flows
Some wetlands within the TIS that previously
received regular inundation have now been isolated
from the floodplain due to levee banking and flood
management. This has resulted in reduced
inundation and an absence of flood flows. For a
myriad of flora and fauna, this has led to a lack of
environmental cues (such as flooding or changes in
salinity levels) which are important to the triggering of
important ecological processes within the Ramsarlisted wetlands (e.g. bird breeding, fish spawning and
plant germinating). The hydrological changes are
also likely to have altered faunal habitat leading to
lower recruitment rates. (MDBMC 2002).
Wetlands that are no longer flushed naturally risk
turning into hypersaline wetlands. Hypersaline
wetlands may not support any vegetation or animals
other than algae, halophytes and a small range of
birds that rest on the surface. There are, however,
issues surrounding the flushing of saline wetlands as
Victoria has agreed to certain salinity targets for the
Murray River at Morgan and these cannot be
exceeded. Salinity credits are required to discharge
salt to the Murray. The effect of saline discharges on
downstream landholders also needs to be
considered.
Lake Tutchewop will not be flushed as it is managed
as a salinity disposal basin to prevent large salt loads
from the Barr Creek catchment entering the Murray
River. Lake Charm is flushed artificially according to
a flushing management protocol. Flushing occurs
into the Murray River when flows are high with the
community meeting the cost of operations,
infrastructure renewal and disposal of saline water.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 15
Recent work to investigate options for flushing
wetlands that have been isolated from the floodplain
have resulted in inlets and outlets being built for Hird
and Johnson Swamps to allow these wetlands to be
flushed.
Reversal of seasonal flow regimes
The use of streams and wetlands for storage and
conveying of irrigation water has altered water
regimes in the area. Contrary to natural conditions,
streams now have low flows in winter and high flows
in summer (KLAWG 1993). High summer flows
occur when water is released for irrigation during a
season in which natural flows would normally have
been low. Alternatively, naturally high winter flows
may be reduced and stored during the wetter part of
the year, which results in wetlands not receiving their
natural watering regimes. This is particularly crucial
to River Red Gum wetlands that need a period of
inundation, followed by an episode of summerautumn drying in order to remain healthy (Lloyd et al.
1994).
Lakes that are linked to irrigation supply are full for
nine months of the year. For the other three months
water levels are maintained at lower levels. A small
number of wetlands in the Kerang area (e.g. Avoca
Marshes) are naturally flooded.
In managing the water regimes of wetlands in the
Kerang Wetlands, it is not possible to restore natural
(pre-European) water regimes for most of the
wetlands. The use of many wetlands in the Ramsar
site for irrigation and salinity disposal purposes
imposes constraints but also creates opportunities
for improving water regimes. The goal is to manage
water regimes to restore sustainable ecological
functions and attributes, based on natural
hydrological regimes as far as practicable. This has
involved establishing a preferred wetting, drying or
flushing cycle for some wetlands. Inlets and outlets
are being constructed at wetlands as required to
facilitate appropriate water management.
In 1999 the Government approved the Murray River
bulk entitlements. These formalised a Flora and
Fauna entitlement first allocated in 1987 that can be
used for wetlands with access to Murray River water.
The entitlement is for 27,600 ML of high security
water. Wetlands in the Ramsar site are considered
high priority wetlands for use of the allocation and
2,600 ML is specifically set aside for Hird and
Johnson Swamps.
The Department of Sustainability and Environment
facilitates the Environmental Water Allocation
Committee that discusses water usage within
wetlands based on enhancing and maintaining
existing environmental values. Three reports are
prepared annually (see Section 3.1). Two relate
directly to use of the allocation and outline the
recommendations for usage in the current year and
review the previous year’s usage. The
Environmental Water Allocation (27,600 ML) Annual
Works Program for 2001/2002 outlines the decision
support system used to guide allocation decisions.
The third report provides guidance to GoulburnMurray Water on the management of flood events, if
possible, to maximise environmental outcomes.
Part of the Flora and Fauna entitlement was used in
the spring of 2000 to fill Lake Cullen with over
10,000 ML to flush the lake bed in line with the Lake
Cullen Feasibility Study and Operational Guidelines
(2001). In August 2001, a bird survey estimated that
approximately 15,000 birds of 42 species were using
the lake.
Over the past five years, part of this entitlement has
been used to improve the ecological values of Hird,
and Johnson Swamps, particularly the carrying
capacity, species diversity and breeding
opportunities for waterbirds.
There are significant costs associated with delivery
of the Environmental Water Allocation to those
wetlands where it is necessary to use irrigation
infrastructure for delivery. The Victorian River Health
Strategy (NRE 2002) states that costs associated
with bulk entitlements for the environment will be
considered as part of a proposed discussion paper
on ‘Options for Providing Bulk Entitlements for the
Environment’.
The current bulk entitlement conversion process for
the Middle and lower Loddon River and the
streamflow management plan for the Avoca River
are expected to improve the health of these rivers
and thus indirectly benefit wetlands in the Ramsar
site that fill from them. While these processes will
help river and wetland health, the bulk entitlement
process will not be assessing individual water
requirements of wetlands.
The management of the water regime of individual
wetlands in the Ramsar site is also complicated by
potential impacts on the wetlands from programs
and trends operating at the regional level. These
include water trading, water savings projects,
improvements in efficiencies in agricultural water use
and proposals to manage irrigation systems
differently. The Loddon Murray Land and Water
Management Strategy includes strategies to ensure
wetland values are protected or enhanced as these
changes take place.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 16
The Loddon-Murray 2000 Plus regional development
project identified 16 areas in the region as prime
development zones with adequate infrastructure and
water to support new development. This land was
identified as being suitable for future irrigation
development, based on land capability studies. One
of the zones identified was in the vicinity of the
Ramsar site at Lake Charm. The zones were
subsequently assessed for land capability, salinity
risks and environmental risks. Based on this
assessment, the zone at Lake Charm is no longer
being promoted for development due to soil type
limitations.
There is concern that new irrigation development
has the potential to threaten the ecological value
Ramsar wetlands and other wetlands in the region.
Interim guidelines have been completed for irrigation
practices where new development is adjacent to
Ramsar wetlands. These make recommendations
on further research and monitoring (Savage &
McNeill 2003).
Groundwater changes
The large regional changes to water distribution and
application, as well as the impacts of vegetation
clearing, has meant that groundwater levels have
risen, which in turn affects the water balance and
water quality in wetlands. Irrigation has been the
main factor in increasing local groundwater levels.
Rising water tables change the water regime of
wetlands that are connected to the groundwater by
preventing the otherwise natural occurrence of
drying out in summer.
Frequently, this groundwater in the Kerang region is
highly saline, which also adversely impacts on the
ecology of the wetlands in the region (Mackay &
Eastburn 1990). Monitoring of the aquifer associated
with the Kerang Wetlands has revealed salinity
levels of commonly between 30,000 EC and 60,000
EC. The very high level of salinity renders the
groundwater unsuitable for most purposes including
irrigation, stock and domestic supply (NRE 2002a).
Loss of biodiversity
In some cases changes in the natural flow regimes
have led to a loss of biodiversity within the wetlands
by lowering flora community diversity and, hence the
types of habitats available to fauna. Loss of
biodiversity for aquatic invertebrates also affects
vertebrate fauna such as fish and waterbirds.
The management of the TIS is primarily for irrigation
supply and flood mitigation. Consequently, many
wetlands are kept at an unnaturally high level to
maximise their value for irrigation. Permanent open
freshwater wetlands such as the irrigation supply
lakes that have stable water levels have generally
low conservation values except for native fish (DCFL
1989). Aquatic plants are uncommon in this wetland
type, habitat diversity is low and mainly fish eating
birds are present, but in low numbers (DCFL 1989).
Water levels need to fluctuate (to increase the littoral
zone) and in some cases semi-permanent wetlands
need to be completely dry for maximum abundance
and diversity of waterbirds and aquatic invertebrates.
Rising water levels are also known to be important to
native fish breeding (DCFL 1989).
Exotic fish have flourished in this altered
environment with carp Cyprinus carpio, Gambusia
and Redfin Perch all affecting biodiversity of the
system with impacts upon habitat, competition and
predation.
The Loddon Murray Irrigation Region Co-ordination
Forum Technical Management Group is developing
a wetland prioritisation framework for the Kerang
area to assist in resolving water management
issues. Management agencies (including DSE,
Parks Victoria, Goulburn-Murray Water, North
Central Catchment Management Authority, the
Commonwealth Department of Environment and
Heritage and the Murray-Darling Basin Commission)
are encouraged to utilise this framework to ensure
water is directed to priority wetlands, including
Ramsar sites, within the catchment.
5.2
Salinity
Rising groundwater levels and salinisation of
wetlands are major issues in the Kerang Lakes area.
The natural groundwater table has been rising in the
Kerang area since the introduction of irrigated
agriculture in the 1930s, combined with extensive
vegetation clearing throughout the catchment.
Irrigation practices in the local area have also
contributed to rising groundwater and increased
salinity.
Prior to the commencement of irrigation, watertables
in the Kerang region were believed to have been 4 to
9 metres below the surface. The changes in the
hydrological cycle have resulted in the majority of
irrigation land within the Kerang Wetlands area being
underlain by a high saline watertable that fluctuates
continually between 0 and 2 metres below ground
surface (Hydrotechnology 1995). Salinity levels of
the groundwater range from 30,000 to 60,000 EC
(KLAWG 1993).
Direct saline intrusions of groundwater, disposal of
saline drainage water, and isolation from natural
flushing flows have combined to cause major salinity
increases in many wetlands.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 17
Salinity within the system can vary widely, depending
on both the location and the time of the year.
Essentially Murray River water, which is diverted
from the Torrumbarry Weir pool, is of very low
salinity, typically less than 150 EC. As this water
travels through the TIS it receives inputs of saline
water from groundwater sources and from streams
and drains within the system.
The characteristics of some wetlands have been
completely altered, causing the extinction of many
freshwater dependent plant and animal species.
Stevenson Swamp is a terminal lake with no
recognised water supply. It is an example of a
wetland which was historically fresh or brackish and
has now become hypersaline, supporting virtually no
flora or fauna within the flooded area (KLAWG
1993).
In order to reduce salt discharge into the Murray
River, Lakes Tutchewop, William and Kelly, and Little
Lake Kelly (the Tutchewop Lakes) have been
managed as evaporation basins for the disposal of
saline drainage water from the Barr Creek
Catchment since 1968. Lakes William, Kelly and
Little Kelly are naturally saline and previously
followed a wet/dry cyclic pattern with considerable
saline discharge. Lake Tutchewop was formerly
fresh and intermittently filled by floodwaters before
being isolated from the floodplain as part of the
Tutchewop Lakes scheme. Diversion of water into
these lakes from Barr Creek has changed them into
permanent water bodies with rising salinity levels.
Salinisation of the wetlands may directly affect those
fauna that breed, nest or forage in waterbodies, such
as invertebrates, fish, amphibians and waterbirds.
Diversity of fauna decreases with increasing salinity,
with only hardy, salt tolerant species remaining.
However, due to lack of competition and predation,
salt-tolerant species may be very abundant and salt
lakes can often support a very high biomass and
some of the largest concentrations of waterbirds
known. Although they are now saline, the Tutchewop
lakes still qualify under the waterfowl abundance
criteria of the Convention on Wetlands and form a
critical waterbird habitat component of the Kerang
Lakes Ramsar site. (NRE 2000). Once lakes
become hypersaline, however, both species diversity
and abundance are severely affected.
The accumulation of salt in the Tutchewop Lakes
has significantly altered ecological conditions in Lake
Tutchewop, Lake Little and Lake Kelly. Lake William,
always a salt lake, now has higher salinity levels
(NRE 2000). Salt accumulation also limits the
effectiveness of the lakes for salinity disposal as their
evaporation rates decrease and salt precipitates. A
change in management of the Tutchewop Lakes is
required to avoid loss of most biodiversity values in
10 to 20 years time and the increasing loss of
evaporative capacity with significant consequences
for Murray River salinity levels.
Approximately 50,000 tonnes of salt accumulates in
the Tutchewop Lakes each year. A new higher offtake weir has been constructed on Barr Creek where
water is diverted to the Tutchewop Lakes. The new
weir will exclude high flows from the Little Murray
River, which had the effect of diluting the saline Barr
Creek water when they occurred. New operational
rules have also been developed on when to pump
into the Tutchewop Lakes in relation to flow and salt
loads in Barr Creek. With these changes in place,
67,500 tonnes of salt will be diverted to the
Tutchewop Lakes each year.
The Loddon Murray Land and Water Management
Strategy (2002) outlines strategies to improve
irrigation farming practices and surface water
drainage management in the Loddon-Murray region,
including the Barr Creek catchment. However,
discharge of saline groundwater into Barr Creek will
continue and salinity concentration in the Creek may
increase in the future. This could come about as
water efficiency measures reduce the volume of
irrigation tailwater which currently dilutes inflow from
the saline watertable.
To overcome the problem of accumulation of salt in
the Tutchewop Lakes, a preferred option for
managing the lakes was agreed by the Department
of Environment and Heritage, the Murray-Darling
Basin Commission and the Department of
Sustainability and Environment in 2000. The
management regime involved harvesting salt from
the system at the same rate at which it enters from
Barr Creek. Water from Lake Tutchewop would be
piped to Lake William, where evaporative salt
harvesting would take place. Water from Lakes Little
Kelly and Kelly would be back-flushed periodically to
Lake Tutchewop to minimise their salinity levels. The
Ramsar values of Lakes Tutchewop, Little Kelly and
Kelly were predicted to be retained in the long-term
with loss of some values at Lake William.
Agreement was also reached on a fallback option to
manage the lakes until the salt harvesting option was
implemented. Under that option, saline water would
be accumulated first in Lake William with the other
lakes kept at lower salinity levels. However, this
option is not sustainable in the long term. When Lake
William fills with salt, Lakes Little and Kelly would
then be used to accumulate salt and lastly Lake
Tutchewop. Infrastructure works are required to
allow both these options to proceed.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 18
A proposed commercial salt harvesting venture at
Lake William did not proceed as planned in 2000.
The Murray-Darling Basin Commission which
manages the system is continuing to actively
investigate options for removing accumulating salt
from the Tutchewop Lakes and is also planning the
necessary changes to infrastructure.
Lake Bael Bael, Top, Middle and Bottom Marsh
(The Marshes) are located on the northern floodplain
of the Avoca River. Water quality in the Avoca River
is considered poor due to high concentrations of salt,
turbidity and nutrients (NCCMA 2002a). Changed
flow regimes to the lower end of the Avoca River
(including The Marshes) – due to changed
management practices upstream and the building of
farm dams in the upper catchment – have also
affected water quality. Significant degradation and
continued threat has also been caused by adjacent
irrigation. The Avoca Marshes is currently the subject
of an integrated hydrogeological study. The Avoca
Whole of Catchment Plan 2000-2002 outlines
strategies to improve catchment health and reduce
impacts on the Ramsar wetlands.
The Pyramid Creek Groundwater Interception
Scheme is being developed by Goulburn-Murray
Water on behalf of the Murray-Darling Basin
Commission. The concept is to pump groundwater
from Pyramid Creek between Kow Swamp and Hird
Swamp to safeguard water quality of the irrigation
supply lakes and provide increased protection for the
Murray River.
5.3
Pollution
Nutrients from fertilisers, animal industries, sewage
and stormwater drains may significantly alter wetland
ecosystems. High concentrations of nutrients in
water or sediments promote weed and algal growth.
High levels of algal populations can lead to very low
oxygen concentrations, which threatens oxygen
dependent aquatic biota such as fish.
The Loddon catchment has the highest incidence of
blue-green algal blooms in the State (NCCMA
2002b). Water quality in the Avoca catchment is poor
and there is potential for increases in the frequency
of algal blooms in the catchment (NCCMA 2002a).
In recent years the frequency of blue-green algae
blooms in the Kerang Wetlands have increased,
reflecting the degradation of the wetlands and
associated waterways. The toxins produced by bluegreen algae are harmful to both humans and
animals and threaten the wetland ecosystem.
The Avoca Nutrient Management Strategy (2002)
and the Draft Loddon Catchment Water Quality
Strategy (2002) propose a range of strategies to
reduce the nutrient load by 50% over 30 years in the
Loddon catchment, and by 25% for phosphorous
and 32% for nitrogen in the Avoca catchment over
30 years. Strategies have been developed
consistent with the requirements of the State
Environmental Protection Policy (Waters of Victoria).
They include actions to control erosion, improve
farming practices, rehabilitate riparian zones,
improve dairy effluent storage systems, improve
management of intensive animal industries as well
as drainage and re-use systems in irrigation areas,
urban stormwater programs and preparation of
streamflow management plans and a bulk water
entitlement for the Loddon catchment.
Dumping of household refuse in wetlands is mostly
carried out in an illegal fashion, but sometimes
wetlands are chosen as mandated sites for refuse
disposal. Towards the southern end of Cemetery
Swamp there is a Municipal Purposes Reserve
reserved under the Crown Land (Reserves) Act
1978. The township of Kerang uses this area as a
waste transfer station. It was the site of the former
Kerang landfill which closed in 1999. Rehabilitation
plans for the site are currently being designed by the
Gannawarra Shire and include testing for leachate.
There is a fully licensed landfill site located outside
the Ramsar site approximately 15 km west of
Kerang currently in use.
Sedimentation is known to be a pollution issue in
some wetlands of the region. Increased
sedimentation can reduce the depth and alter the
water regime of wetlands. In addition, large sediment
loads deposited in water bodies such as wetlands
can smother and destroy macrophytic and benthic
organisms. The extent of this problem, however, is
unknown within the region.
5.4
Pest plants and animals
Pest plants in the Kerang Wetlands are common and
have benefited from the changes to the land and
water management of the region, such as changes
to water regimes, increased nutrient inputs, grazing
of natural areas, and clearing of overstorey
vegetation. There are numerous terrestrial and
aquatic weed species in the Kerang Wetlands
region, with Boxthorn, Willow, Spiny Rush,
Cumbungi (Typha sp. - there is both an introduced
and a native species of Typha which are often
difficult to distinguish) and Phragmites (Phragmites
australis - a native species) being the most
predominant. Weeds not only pose increased
competition for native species but these also provide
habitat for pest animal species (KLAWG 1993) and
reduce habitat for native fauna.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 19
Some wetlands have displayed excessive Cumbungi
growth within recent years (most likely due to
inappropriate watering regimes such as low summer
water levels and higher nutrient levels). Excessive
Cumbungi reduces the habitat diversity of the
wetlands (Environmental Water Allocation Proposed
Works Program 1998/99).
Cumbungi is a perennial plant that plays an
important role as habitat for numerous fauna and fish
species, but only when it is a component of a more
diverse plant community. This plant presently
extends over more than 80% of both Hird and
Johnson Swamps. This is considered detrimental to
most waterbird species. Phragmites has spread
around the shoreline of the swamps and into open
ground around them. Phragmites reduces the areas
available for waterbirds to graze, inhibits
regeneration of trees and other plants, and invades
tracks and cleared areas used for camping.
Some exotic aquatic flora species have the ability to
propagate and spread rapidly in wetland
environments. These plants may disturb the wetland
ecosystem and affect human uses of water by
interfering with irrigation systems and by clogging
channels, streams and drains. Coarse Water Milfoil
chokes areas of open water in Johnson Swamp, and
this species may also replace other native species,
further simplifying the habitat diversity (DCE 1992).
Arrowhead and Parrots Feather are two weeds that
have spread quickly in the past four years and are a
significant threat to the wetland system. There is a
concern that these species will become established
in the Kerang Wetland Ramsar site and
progressively invade billabongs and wetlands,
trapping silt in fringing vegetation and thus reducing
the area and quality of aquatic habitat. Work is being
undertaken by Goulburn-Murray Water to better
understand Arrowhead and develop control
measures. Parrots Feather thrives in nutrient rich
water and has the capability to live in fast-running
water (Backer pers. comm). To date there are no
successful control measures for Parrots Feather.
The presence of pest animals within the Kerang
Wetlands is a threat to the values of the wetlands.
The pest animals found within the Kerang Wetlands
include rabbits, foxes, pigs, starlings and cats. Carp
and Gambusia are considered pest species and
have flourished and impact on native species
through habitat changes, competition and predation.
There is a national management strategy to control
carp. Redfin Perch, an introduced important
recreational fishing species, are also present.
Rabbits are distributed throughout the Kerang
Wetlands system, ranging from low to moderate
numbers and have had a major impact on the flora.
Rabbits have destroyed native remnant vegetation
and prevented regeneration (KLAWG 1993). In
addition, rabbits can severely impact on cultural site
values.
Predation of native wildlife by the introduced Red
Fox is listed as a threatening process under the
Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. Foxes are
relatively high in number where Lignum vegetation
communities are present (e.g. The Marshes) and low
in numbers where the wetlands are saline e.g. Lake
Tutchewop. Foxes are known to predate upon many
groups of native fauna such as arboreal mammals
(including Brushtail and Ringtail possums), bird
species, reptiles (such as the Carpet Python),
amphibians and tortoises. Foxes also feed on
tortoise eggs and, since these animals are longlived, the impact of this predation may not be noticed
until there is a sudden population decline (Turner,
pers comm.).
Predation of native wildlife by cats is also listed as a
threatening process under the Flora and Fauna
Guarantee Act 1988. Cats continue to prey heavily
on native mammals, reptiles and birds.
Carp are present in high numbers on the permanent
lakes in the Kerang Wetland system. In high
densities European Carp are believed to reduce the
quality of aquatic habitat for waterbirds and native
fish by reducing the diversity of aquatic flora and
competing for food. The most serious impact caused
by European Carp is increased turbidity within the
wetlands (Koehn et al. 2000). More research is
needed to quantify impacts and explore possible
methods of reduction. It needs to be recognised that
eradication of carp may not be feasible in the short to
medium term due to the complexity and scale of the
problem.
Gambusia compete with and fin-nip native fish,
causing infection and disease (Lloyd 1990; KLAWG
1993). Redfin Perch are a predatory species.
However, their impact on native fish in the wetlands
is unknown.
5.5
Resource utilisation
Utilisation of the Kerang Wetlands is permitted for
grazing, salt harvesting, and water delivery and
storage.
Grazing
Grazing is carried out according to grazing licences
issued under the Conservation and Forests Act
1983. Thirteen grazing licences, eight water frontage
licences and three unused road licences allow sheep
and cattle to intermittently graze numerous wetlands.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 20
Stock are often introduced into the wetlands during
the summer period, when feed levels in the
paddocks are low (O’Donnell 1990).
Grazing within the wetlands alters the structure of the
vegetation by preventing regeneration and reducing
the diversity of species in the understorey. Stock also
selectively graze palatable species, destroy
vegetation cover used by native animals, compact,
pug and erode the soils, and manure increases
nutrient concentrations. Grazing also has potential to
impact on cultural site values, particularly on water
frontages.
In contrast, well managed grazing may be a useful
management tool in the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar
site and may play a role in vegetation management,
controlling pest plants and animals and reducing fire
hazard.
Salt harvesting
Salt harvesting is undertaken at Lakes William, Kelly
and Little Kelly. Salt imported from Barr Creek is
stored in Lakes Tutchewop, Kelly, William and Little
Kelly. It has been estimated that salt harvesting
works remove 7,000 tonnes of salt per year (KLAWG
1993).
Water delivery and storage
As many as 12 wetlands within the Kerang Wetlands
Ramsar site are supplied with water from the
Torrumbarry Irrigation System, primarily for irrigation
storage and delivery purposes. The current
environmental values of these wetlands depend on
long-established water regimes, even though the
regimes are not natural and the original values are
often diminished. The long-term viability of current
environmental values at these wetlands is closely
linked to demands for irrigation supply as well as
storage management requirements. Changes to
current water regimes are likely to be proposed as
irrigation needs change. Effects on Ramsar site
values need to be carefully assessed before
decisions are made.
Wastewater treatment
The EPA licences the discharge of wastes or
wastewater from wastewater treatment plants,
industries and septic tanks to surface waters and
administers the State Environment Protection Policy
(Waters of Victoria).
Lower Murray Water is responsible for urban water
and wastewater services to a number of townships
along the Murray, including Kerang. Fosters Swamp
is used to store and evaporate wastewater, drainage
and stormwater from Kerang. Lower Murray Water
has an environmental management system in place
and has established a Biodiversity Asset Register
encompassing all its properties including Fosters
Swamp. It also has Land for Wildlife registration for
Fosters Swamp.
Commercial fishing
Until recently commercial fishing was permitted
under licence at Kangaroo, Reedy, Middle and Third
Lakes. Commercial inland fishing in Victoria has
since been reviewed and resulted in the State
Government buying out the remaining commercial
Inland Fisheries Access Licences in 2002. The
Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries Victoria)
can still issue permits for the commercial exploitation
of noxious aquatic species under section 81 of the
Fisheries Act 1995. Two commercial operators have
permits to net noxious fish, primarily carp, within a 75
km radius of their residences at Lake Boga and
Cohuna and hence within all the wetlands in the
Kerang Wetlands Ramsar Site. This has the
potential to improve wetland values. Given the
investment in stocking native fish in some of the
wetlands, methods that minimise by-catch are
encouraged.
5.6
Recreation
The recreational value of the Kerang Wetlands
stems both from their natural ecological assets and
also from their use as part of a water supply system
(KLAWG 1993). The wetlands provide many
opportunities for recreational activities for both local
residents and visitors. The many caravan parks,
hotels and motels in the area indicate that it is a
popular tourist destination. It is estimated that over
4,000 people stay in caravan parks during the
Christmas and Easter holidays.
Most visitor usage is concentrated on the permanent
lakes. The most popular wetland areas for visitors
are Lake Charm and Kangaroo Lake. Other
wetlands utilised for recreation include Hird Swamp,
Johnson Swamp, Middle Lake and Reedy Lake. Of
the recreational activities, the most concentrated use
on the wetlands is by duck hunters during the duck
open season, usually March to June (subject to preseason censuses) (NRE 2002c).
The Kerang wetlands are recognised as the most
popular duck hunting locality in Victoria. The lakes
and waterways often support large populations of
ducks, and most are open to hunting (KLAWG
1993). The Victorian Hunting Guide 2002 provides
information on bag limits, proclaimed species and
techniques for reducing environmental impacts.
Proclaimed game (appropriate duck species) may be
hunted during the open season only, but pest
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 21
animals may be hunted at any time on some Crown
Land.
Duck hunting is subject to strict controls. It is
managed by DSE to ensure harvest levels for game
species are set at optimum sustainable levels, in
accordance with relevant climatic and habitat
variables.
The use of lead shot in cartridges for the hunting of
waterbirds is listed as a potentially threatening
process in Schedule 3 of the Flora and Fauna
Guarantee Act 1988. Birds that feed in or on the
edges of wetlands including dabbling ducks (e.g.
Pacific Black Duck), deep diving ducks (e.g. Bluebilled Duck) and predators (e.g. Whistling Kite,
Swamp Harrier and White-bellied Sea-Eagle) are at
risk of lead poisoning (FFG Action Statement No.32).
Lead shot was prohibited for duck hunting in Victoria
in 2002 but can still be used for hunting quail, pest
animals and for clay target shooting. The extent of
the lead contamination in the Kerang Wetlands
Ramsar site is not known.
Camping on lake foreshores, particularly during the
duck hunting season, can have adverse impacts on
the wetlands natural and cultural values. These
impacts include vegetation damage, soil compaction,
collection of firewood and issues associated with
rubbish disposal. Improving signage at high-use
recreational nodes would assist in raising awareness
of impacts associated with recreational use.
Recreational boating activities occur within the
Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site. Recent research
demonstrates that water-skiing and high powered
boats disturb waterbirds (Paton et al. 2000). The
local impacts at the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site
are poorly understood and further investigation into
the effect these activities are having on Ramsar
values, particularly waterbirds, is warranted.
Recreational fishing is also a key activity on many of
the wetlands and native fish are stocked for this
purpose.
5.7
Erosion
Erosion of the banks of the rivers, lakes and
wetlands occurs as a result of irrigation water
operations, management activities and water based
recreation. Anecdotal evidence suggests that carp
may also be contributing to shoreline erosion.
Adverse impacts of erosion on the environmental
value of the wetlands is considered minimal,
however, there is potential for cultural sites to be
negatively impacted. In relative terms, erosion is
considered to having the most impact at Lake Bael
Bael, however, it is still considered a low risk to the
environmental and cultural values of the lake.
5.8
Dredging
Dredging is an activity not often associated with
inland wetlands, but in the case of Kerang Wetlands
it has occurred in the form of alteration of inlets and
outlets at a small number of wetlands. For example,
at Pyramid Creek dredging was undertaken to
bypass Hird and Johnson Swamps and accelerate
delivery of irrigation water. This has caused changes
to the water regimes of the wetlands, however, most
of these changes occurred some time ago and their
impact on the current values of the wetlands is
negligible.
In some cases, dredging and changes to outlet
structures may be needed to rehabilitate wetlands.
These works should be undertaken with safeguards
against short-term impacts during works.
5.9
Fire
Fire is another risk that occurs in the Kerang Region
due to recreation and vandalism. In some cases
local landholders may burn reeds in an attempt to
control them. This practice is usually ineffective in the
long-term and results in direct impacts on wetland
flora and fauna. Wild fires from unattended campfires
or vandalism are more frequent and have the
adverse impacts of destroying flora and fauna, dry
organic matter (important for nutrient recycling on
refilling) and woody debris (which is an important
structural habitat feature).
5.10
Land management
There are uncertainties about management
responsibility for some land in the Ramsar site. In
addition, different managers are sometimes
responsible for adjacent land at individual wetlands.
This has led to inadequate or inconsistent
management of some areas.
Further clarity on land tenure and management, and
improved communication between respective land
managers will contribute to better management and
allocation of resources.
5.11
Level of risk to Ramsar values
The goal of the integrated management framework
(incorporating the Strategic Directions Statement and
corresponding Strategic Management Plans) is to
facilitate the maintenance of ecological character at
Victoria’s Ramsar sites by minimising risks to values.
This objective will be achieved through the
implementation of strategically prioritised
management actions. The proposed management
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 22
actions are prioritised according to their ability to
address the identified threats or risks.
A strategic risk assessment process based on the
broad concepts and principles of ecological risk
assessment has been undertaken for the Strategic
Directions Statement and Strategic Management
Plans – see Appendix 7 of Management of Victoria’s
Wetlands: Strategic Directions Statement (NRE
2002b). This process relied on a clear understanding
of the range of direct and indirect pressures facing
the wetlands, and the legislative and policy context.
A systematic and strategic analysis of risk provides
the necessary information to site managers; and
facilitates priority setting, resource allocation and
informed decision-making. It also provides a better
understanding of management issues.
The strategic risk assessment process has
established the basis for objectively assigning higher,
medium and lower priority levels to risks at Ramsar
sites and the management actions designed to
Table 5.1
address them. The strategic risk assessment
approach also facilitates an understanding of the
relationship between specific risks and values. The
strategic risk assessment framework draws on two
major relevant documents: the US Environment
Protection Authority’s Guidelines for Ecological Risk
Assessment (1997), and the Ramsar Convention’s
Wetland Risk Assessment (1999).
To enable comparison both within and between
sites, the risks to the ecological character of the
Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site are summarised in
Table 5.1. It should be noted that the level of risk has
not been assessed against the effort currently being
applied to mitigating the risk.
A more detailed risk assessment process for the
Loddon Murray Wetlands (which includes the
wetlands listed in the Kerang Lakes Ramsar site) is
currently being undertaken.
Level of risk at the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site



Higher priority risk - risks that currently or may
potentially result in the significant loss of the site’s
environmental values and ecological character.

Medium priority risk - risks that currently or may
potentially result in the moderate loss of the site’s
environmental values and ecological character.


Fire

Recreation
Pest animals

Resource
utilisation
Pest plants

Pollution
Kerang Wetlands
Salinity
Ramsar site
Altered water
regimes
Risks


Lower priority risk - risks that currently or may
potentially result in the minor loss of the site’s
environmental values and ecological character.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 23
6
Site Management Strategies
A number of Site Management Strategies have been
developed in response to the analysis of risks to the
values at the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site. The
Site Management Strategies are grouped under the
relevant Management Objectives established by the
Strategic Directions Statement.
The Site Management Strategies for Kerang
Wetlands promote a range of specific management
actions that will maintain, and in some cases restore
the ecological character of the site. The Site
Management Strategies are designed to:
a) highlight existing strategies and actions that are
consistent with wise use principles; and
b) address risks that are having an adverse impact,
or are likely to have an adverse impact on
ecological character.
The successful coordination and cooperation of the
lead agencies as well as the continued efforts of the
many community and interest groups, is essential for
the long-term conservation of the Kerang Wetlands
Ramsar site. The Strategic Directions Statement,
statutory mechanisms, management plans and
management strategies will guide the
implementation of this Strategic Management Plan.
The Department of Sustainability and Environment
will have overall responsibility for:


ensuring the regular review of Strategic
Management Plans for Ramsar sites;

reporting triennially, in line with National
Reporting commitments, to the Conference of
the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar
Convention; and

the six yearly update of the Ramsar Information
Sheets for each site.
In order to clarify accountabilities, the lead agencies
responsible for the implementation of each strategy
are identified. Lead agencies will monitor
implementation of the strategies for which they are
responsible. Lead agencies are encouraged to
record progress on their responsibilities and extent of
implementation and provide information in the form
of annual summary reports to the Department of
Sustainability and Environment (DSE). This
information will be consistent with a format
developed by DSE and will contribute to Victoria’s
chapter in the National Report to the Convention on
Wetlands, prepared every three years.
A rating of relative priority accompanies each Site
Management Strategy. Definitions of these priorities
are as follows:
Higher: Strategies that, when implemented, will
significantly contribute to the maintenance of
ecological character.
facilitating the implementation of the Strategic
Directions Statement and Strategic
Management Plans for Ramsar sites by
ensuring relevant agencies incorporate relevant
strategies into their work programs;
Medium: Strategies that, when implemented in
conjunction with Higher priority strategies, will
support the maintenance and contribute to the
restoration of ecological character.

coordinating and reporting on the progress with
implementation of the Strategic Directions
Statement and Strategic Management Plans for
Ramsar sites;
Lower: Strategies that, when implemented in
conjunction with Higher and Medium priority
strategies, will result in enhancement of ecological
character.

ensuring monitoring programs are established
in accordance with the Strategic Directions
Statement and Strategic Management Plans for
Ramsar sites;
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 24
Management Objective 1
Increase the scientific understanding of wetland ecosystems and their management requirements
Site Management Strategy
Lead agency
Priority
Undertake and support a coordinated research program to determine more appropriate
water regimes for the Ramsar site based on the hydro-ecological requirements of the
lakes.
PV, DSE,
NCCMA
Higher
1.2
Further investigate the influence of ground water and surface water interactions on lake
water quality and biota composition.
PV, DSE,
NCCMA
Higher
1.3
Measure flows into wetlands by installing gauging stations.
PV, DSE
Higher
1.4
Investigate specific wetland vegetation to guide appropriate rehabilitation and
revegetation that reflects individual lake variation.
PV, DSE
Higher
1.5
Undertake further research to improve the robustness of interim guidelines for irrigation
practices adjacent to the Ramsar wetlands.
DPI
Higher
1.6
Encourage and support further archaeological surveys of the Kerang wetlands
DSE, PV
Medium
Site Management Strategy
Lead agency
Priority
Plan for the future management of the Kerang Wetlands in light of changes to water use
patterns and irrigation system management, whilst ensuring no net loss to biodiversity
and recognising the limited capacity to fluctuate water levels in some wetlands due to the
potential for groundwater intrusion.
PV, DSE, GMW,
NCCMA
Higher
Continue to determine the appropriate water regime for each of the wetlands in the
Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site and negotiate for appropriate environmental water
allocations to be able to provide these water regimes.
DSE, PV, GMW,
NCCMA
Higher
DSE
Higher
1.1
Management Objective 2
Maintain or seek to restore appropriate water regimes
2.1
2.2
2.3
Review management costs for environmental bulk entitlements as part of a discussion
paper on ‘Options for Providing Bulk Entitlements for the Environment’, in accordance
with the Victorian River Health Strategy.
2.4
Where regional benefits can be sustained, maintain or restore natural surface water flows
to and from wetlands in the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site.
DSE, PV, GMW
Higher
2.5
Continue a program to construct wetland inlets and outlets where necessary to manage
water in line with approved operational plans.
DSE, PV, GMW,
NCCMA
Medium
2.6
Ensure that the disposal of drainage water into the Kerang Wetlands does not adversely
affect their environmental values.
DSE, DPI, GMW,
NCCMA
Medium
2.7
In instances where drainage/channel outfalls provide a positive benefit to wetlands,
ensure this flow remains until appropriate management plans are developed to address
water requirements.
DSE, DPI, GMW,
NCCMA
Medium
DSE, GMW
Medium
Lead agency
Priority
2.8
Ensure that there are no changes to the operation of the distribution system until
proposed changes that have the potential to affect wetlands in the Ramsar site are
assessed for their environmental impact and a strategy is in place to ameliorate any
impacts to protect environmental values.
Management Objective 3
Address adverse processes and activities
Site Management Strategy
3.1
Seek salinity disposal credits for the environment to allow for the flushing of the wetlands
in accordance with the MDBC Salinity and Drainage Strategy.
DSE, PV
Higher
3.2
Ensure that any water savings or transfers of water are not to the detriment of
environmental values or other significant environmental features of any of the wetlands in
the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site.
DSE, PV, DEH
Higher
Implement the Avoca Nutrient Management Strategy and the Loddon Catchment Water
Quality Strategy to improve water quality and reduce algal blooms in the Ramsar site.
NCCMA, EPA,
DSE
Higher
3.3
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 25
Management Objective 3 continued
Site Management Strategy
Lead agency
Priority
Implement interim guidelines for irrigation practices where new development is adjacent
to Ramsar wetlands. Apply the findings of further research that improves robustness of
the interim guidelines.
PV, Shire, DSE
Higher
Ensure all applications for amending land use and development in water catchments
surrounding Ramsar-listed wetlands are referred to the CMA, DSE, GMW and PV to
ensure potential impacts are identified and appropriately addressed.
Shire
Higher
3.6
Ensure the requirements of the EPBC Act 1999 (Cwlth) are met with regard to
development proposals that may impact on the ecological character of the Ramsar site.
DEH
Higher
3.7
Clarify the roles and responsibilities of reserve management with respect to the land and
water components (including Committees of Management), and seek agreement with all
parties as to these roles and responsibilities.
DSE
Higher
Develop and implement a pest plant and animal action plan for each of the wetlands
within the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site and have completed activities regularly reported
to a central coordinating agency. Clearly define who is responsible for implementing
management action plans.
PV, DSE, Shire,
GMW
Higher
Develop and implement the Kerang Lakes Wetlands Flooding Planner annually to
establish how storage levels and flood flows are managed within the Kerang Wetlands
catchment.
NCCMA, GMW,
DSE
Higher
Investigate options for the removal of accumulating salt in the Tutchewop Lakes salinity
disposal system and ensure impacts and benefits on Ramsar values are considered in
the assessment of options.
MDBC, DSE,
DPI, GMW
Medium
Implement the State Environment Protection Policy (Waters of Victoria) as it relates to
water quality in the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site and ensure waste and sewage
discharges are appropriately licensed and licences complied with.
EPA, LMW, DSE,
NCCMA
Medium
3.12
Undertake a risk assessment on the potential impact of aquatic weeds on the ecological
character of the Ramsar site.
DSE, PV, GMW
Medium
3.13
Identify municipal planning issues related to land use change and development and take
a strategic approach to planning to protect wetland values from potential adverse effects
of land use and development.
DSE, PV, Shire
Medium
Where practical reduce disturbance by carp (e.g. in wetlands where water is delivered
install carp screens on regulators). Investigate other methods of control where carp
screens are not practical
PV, DSE, GMW
Medium
3.15
Consistent with the Regional Floodplain Management Strategy, review the impacts of
levees and drains within the Loddon Murray Region on significant wetlands.
DSE, PV,
NCCMA, GMW
Medium
3.16
Undertake rehabilitation of the former Kerang landfill (now a Waste Transfer Station)
including testing to determine whether leachate poses a threat to Cemetery Swamp.
Shire
Medium
3.17
Encourage and manage appropriate land use activities adjacent to the wetlands.
Shire, DPI, DSE
Medium
3.4
3.5
3.8
3.9
3.10
3.11
3.14
Management Objective 4
Manage within an integrated catchment management framework
Site Management Strategy
4.1
4.2
4.3
4.4
Lead agency
Priority
Ensure this strategic management plan is recognised in the North Central Regional
Catchment Strategy planning and implementation framework and catchment plans
complement this plan to promote the protection of Ramsar site values.
NCCMA
Higher
Ensure environmental values of the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site are considered
when developing new or implementing existing land management plans and
strategies.
NCCMA, PV,
DSE, Shire
Higher
Continue to develop and implement the North Central Regional Catchment Strategy
and subsidiary plans to combat the adverse effects of rising water tables, poor water
quality and land salinisation.
DSE, NCCMA,
GMW, Shire
Higher
Utilise the wetland prioritisation framework developed by the Loddon Murray Irrigation
Region Co-ordination Forum Technical Management Group to ensure that future
works/strategies are in line with agreed priorities.
DSE, PV, GMW,
Shire, NCCMA
Higher
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 26
Management Objective 4 continued
4.5
Prepare management plans for individual priority wetlands that follow the priorities of
the Loddon Murray Land and Water Management Strategy 2002.
DSE, PV,
NCCMA
Higher
4.6
Ensure pest plant and animal control efforts are coordinated across land tenures.
DPI
Higher
Site Management Strategy
Lead agency
Priority
5.1
Review grazing licence management arrangements to ensure they are consistent with
land management responsibilities and Ramsar site management objectives.
DSE, PV, GMW
Higher
5.2
Undertake trials to determine appropriate grazing regimes for maintaining and
enhancing environmental values and review results for broader applicability.
PV, DSE, GMW
Higher
5.3
Review licensed grazing in areas where it can be demonstrated that it has resulted in
the loss of the site’s Ramsar values.
PV, GMW, DSE,
NCCMA
Higher
5.4
Develop and manage the irrigation system to maintain or improve environmental
outcomes in line with the Loddon Murray Land and Water Management Strategy.
GMW, DSE, DPI,
NCCMA
Higher
5.5
Continue to manage duck hunting sustainably.
DSE, PV
Higher
5.6
Continue to manage recreational fishing sustainably.
DPI
Higher
Site Management Strategy
Lead agency
Priority
Use the risk assessment process in the wetland prioritisation framework developed by
the Loddon Murray Irrigation Region Co-ordination Forum Technical Management
Group to document in detail the current environmental values and management risks
for each wetland in the Ramsar site. Identify individual environmental values that need
protecting and enhancing and establish risk management protocols.
PV, GMW, DPI,
DSE, NCCMA,
Shire
Higher
PV, DSE,
NCCMA, GMW,
Shire
Higher
Management Objective 5
Manage resource utilisation on a sustainable basis
Management Objective 6
Protection, and where appropriate enhance, ecosystem processes, habitats and species
6.1
6.2
Protect and enhance native remnant vegetation around lake boundaries.
6.3
Protect important habitat for migratory waders and species listed in appendices to
JAMBA, CAMBA and the Bonn Convention.
PV, DSE, GMW
Higher
6.4
Manage flora and fauna in accordance with management plan priorities, management
agreements, FFG Action Statements and CAMBA and JAMBA agreements.
PV, DSE, GMW
Medium
Site Management Strategy
Lead agency
Priority
Involve local Aboriginal people in all facets of Ramsar site management, consistent
with the Strategies Agreement for Indigenous Involvement in Land and Water
Management (VCMC 2003) and the Indigenous Partnership Strategy. Ensure ongoing
consultation with the local Indigenous communities during management and annual
program planning for the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site.
DSE, AAV, PV
Higher
7.2
Consult with local Aboriginal people to ensure that other site management strategies in
this plan do not adversely impact on Aboriginal cultural heritage values.
DSE, DPI, AAV,
PV
Higher
7.3
Continue ongoing engagement with local Indigenous communities in the management
of Aboriginal cultural heritage values.
DSE, DPI, PV
Higher
7.4
Support the structure of the Loddon Murray Land and Water Management Strategy
(LMLWMS) implementation committee (includes a Technical Working Group and
Executive Officers Committee) in order to foster a consistent and integrated regional
approach to the management of wetlands in the area.
PV, DPI, GMW,
Shire, NCCMA,
DSE, DEH
Higher
Management Objective 7
Encourage strong partnerships between management agencies
7.1
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 27
Management Objective 7 continued
7.5
Clarify land management responsibilities for all land in the Ramsar site and improve
cooperation between land managers to ensure consistent management of adjacent
areas. Where opportunities arise rationalise the current land tenure arrangements (e.g.
Lake Charm) in order to simplify land manager responsibilities.
PV, DPI, DSE,
GMW, Shire,
NCCMA
Higher
Facilitate continued development and understanding of roles and responsibilities of
agencies for all aspects of management by developing a communication procedure of
activities between agencies, including an accountability auditing process.
PV, DSE, GMW,
Shire, NCCMA
Higher
7.7
Encourage Committees of Management to manage wetlands in an environmentally
sustainable manner and to develop and report on a plan of activities.
PV, Shire, GMW,
DSE
Higher
7.8
Determine a lead agency that will be responsible for ensuring that wetland
management plans for individual wetlands in the Kerang Lakes Area are being
successfully implemented.
DSE, DPI
Higher
7.6
Management Objective 8
Promote community awareness and understanding and provide opportunities for involvement in
management
Site Management Strategy
Lead agency
Priority
8.1
Review opportunities for improved education and interpretive services.
PV, DPI, DSE,
Shire
Higher
8.2
Promote community participation in wetland management including habitat protection
and enhancement works.
PV, DSE, DPI
Higher
8.3
Promote greater understanding, awareness and protection of the Kerang Wetlands in
extension and voluntary programs to landholders and to the community (e.g. Landcare
and Waterwatch), through the provision of educational and promotional material.
PV, DSE, DPI,
LMW, NCCMA,
Shire
Higher
8.4
Identify opportunities and encourage community involvement in environmental
monitoring activities (e.g. Waterwatch).
PV, DSE,
NCCMA
Medium
8.5
Develop and implement a communication strategy that identifies a range of informative
material about the Kerang Wetlands that is suitable for a wide range of user groups.
DSE, PV
Medium
Site Management Strategy
Lead agency
Priority
In consultation with local Aboriginal communities, identify, protect and manage, where
appropriate, sites of Aboriginal archaeological and historical interest and significance.
Ensure this is done in accordance with Commonwealth and State legislation and in
consultation with Aboriginal communities appointed under the Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 and Aboriginal Affairs Victoria.
DSE, DPI, PV,
AAV
Higher
9.2
Continue to restrict access to areas within the Ramsar sites where rare or threatened
species are breeding.
DSE, PV, GMW
Higher
9.3
Encourage minimal impact from water-skiers on wetland habitats and disturbance to
wildlife by protecting sensitive areas.
DSE, GMW, PV
Medium
9.4
Encourage visitors to practice minimal impact techniques and to adhere to recreational
codes of conduct and laws governing these activities.
DSE, GMW, PV
Lower
9.5
Improve signage to assist in reducing impacts associated with recreational activities
(e.g. hunting in the Marshes) and to protect people engaged in such activities (e.g.
when there are algal blooms in high value recreation facilities).
PV, GMW, DSE
Lower
Encourage minimal impact recreation to promote the values of the wetlands and
increase community interest and involvement in their protection and enhancement.
PV, DSE
Lower
Management Objective 9
Ensure recreational use is consistent with the protection of natural and cultural values
9.1
9.6
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 28
Management Objective 10
Develop ongoing consistent programs to monitor ecological character
Site Management Strategy
10.1
Develop an ongoing, consistent and well-designed program to monitor the ecological
character of the Ramsar site. The program should allow for appropriate statistical
analysis, based on predefined reporting objectives. Factors such as water height, salinity,
nutrients, algae (including blue-green algae), flora and fauna (including
macroinvertebrates) should be measured and results recorded in appropriate databases.
10.2
Monitor the effectiveness of rehabilitation, revegetation and habitat protection works.
10.3
Monitor the effectiveness of the Ramsar plan with respect to protection and
enhancement of ecological, social and cultural values of the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar
sites.
Lead agency
Priority
DSE, PV,
NCCMA
Higher
DSE, PV,
NCCMA
Higher
DPI, PV
Higher
10.4
Continue to implement a program of regular bird counts in conjunction with Birds
Australia and other relevant groups.
DSE, PV
Higher
10.5
Record fauna species usage of the Kerang Wetlands and provide data to update
relevant Victorian databases.
DSE, PV
Higher
Lead agency key:
AAV
Aboriginal Affairs Victoria (Department for Victorian Communities)
DOI
Department of Infrastructure
DPI
Department of Primary Industries
DSE
Department of Sustainability and Environment
DEH
Department of Environment and Heritage
GMW
Goulburn-Murray Water
LMW
Lower Murray Water
MDBC
Murray-Darling Basin Commission
NCCMA
North Central Catchment Management Authority
PV
Parks Victoria
Shire
Shire of Gannawarra
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 29
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Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council (2001)
Basin Salinity Management Strategy 2001-2015.
Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council,
Canberra.
Department of Sustainability and Environment
(2003b) Victorian Flora Information System.
Department of Sustainability and Environment,
Victoria.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 30
North Central Catchment Management Authority
(1997). Loddon Murray Regional Rural Partnership
Program for a Sustainable Economy Beyond 2000.
North Central Catchment Management Authority,
Huntly.
North Central Catchment Management Authority
(2000). Regional Floodplain Management
Strategy. North Central Catchment Management
Authority, Huntly.
North Central Catchment Management Authority
(2002a). Avoca Nutrient Management Strategy.
North Central Catchment Management Authority,
Huntly.
Peter, J. (1989). Waterfowl count in Victoria,
February 1989. RAOU Report No. 57. Prepared for
the Department of Conservation, Forests and
Land.
Peter, J. (1990). Waterfowl Count in Victoria,
February 1990. RAOU Report No. 72. Prepared for
the Department of Conservation, Forests and
Land.
Ramsar Convention Bureau (1997). The Ramsar
Convention Manual: a Guide to the Convention on
Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971), 2nd ed. Ramsar
Convention Bureau, Gland, Switzerland.
North Central Catchment Management Authority
(2002b). Draft Loddon Catchment Water Quality
Strategy. North Central Catchment Management
Authority, Huntly.
Savage, G. and McNeill, J. (2003). Irrigation
Guidelines for Wetlands Conservation in the
Loddon-Murray region. Centre for Land Protection
Research Report No. 34. Department of Primary
Industries.
North Central Catchment Management Authority
(2002c). Loddon Murray Land and Water
Management Strategy. North Central Catchment
Management Authority, Huntly.
Victorian Catchment Management Council (2003).
Strategies Agreement for Indigenous Involvement
in Land and Water Management. Victorian
Catchment Management Council. Melbourne.
O’Donnell, T. (1990). Vegetation of the Wetlands in
the Kerang Lakes Area. Report to Kerang Lakes
Area Working Group.
Paton, D. C., Ziembicki, M., Owen, P. and Heddle,
C. (2000). Disturbance Distances for Water Birds
and the Management of Human Recreation with
Special Reference to the Coorong Region of South
Australia. Final report for the Migratory Waterbird
Component of the National Wetlands Program,
Environment Australia, Canberra.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 31
Appendix 1 List of Contributors
Multi-disciplinary Project Team members
Kate Maltby
Conservation Strategy Officer,
Conservation Division, Parks
Victoria
Tony Long
Chief Environmental Ranger,
Central Region, Parks Victoria
Roy Speechley
Senior Project Officer, Central
Region, Parks Victoria
Mark Tscharke
Ranger in Charge, Kerang
Parks Victoria
Janet Holmes
Senior Policy Officer,
Department of Sustainability
and Environment
Local Reference Group members
Andrea Joyce
Wetland Co-ordinator, North
West Region, Department of
Sustainability and Environment
John Ginnivan
Manager, Natural Resources
(Kerang), Goulburn-Murray
Water
Merryn Kelly
Senior Policy Officer,
Department of Sustainability
and Environment
Rohan Hogan
North Central Catchment
Management Authority
Steven Walsh
Rob Price
Manager Flora and Fauna,
North West Region,
Department of Sustainability
and Environment
Director, Planning and
Infrastructure, Shire of
Gannawarra
John McCurdy
Development Approvals Officer,
Shire of Gannawarra
Colin Campbell
Lower Murray Water
Greg Turner
Leader of Environment Team,
North Central Region,
Department of Sustainability
and Environment
Project Consultants
Dr Suzanne Moore ECOS Environmental
Consulting
Lance Lloyd
Lloyd Environmental
Consultants
Public Submissions
Australasian Wader Studies Group
Marshall S and S
Birds Australia
Soren, J
Bird Observers Club of Australia
Swan Hill Rural City Council
Coalition Against Duck Shooting
Wehner, B (Parks Victoria, Shepparton)
Department of Natural Resources and
Environment
Tscharke, M (Parks Victoria, Kerang)
VRFish - Fish for the Future
Department of Environment and Heritage
Goulburn-Murray Water
Lower Murray Water
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 32
Appendix 2 Threatened Status of Flora
Common name
Scientific name
FFG listed
Threatened in
Victoria
Australian Millet
Panicum decompositum
k
Brown Beetle-grass
Leptochloa fusca ssp. fusca
r
Bundled Peppercress
Lepidium fasciculatum
k
Forde Poa
Poa fordeana
k
Matted Water-starwort
Callitriche sonderi
k
Native Couch
Cynodon dactylon var. pulchellus
k
Sickle Love-grass
Eragrostis falcata
k
Six-point Arrowgrass
Triglochin hexagonum
v
Small Monkey-flower
Mimulus prostratus
r
Spiny Lignum
Muehlenbeckia horrida ssp. horrida
k
Spreading Emu-bush
Eremophila divaricata ssp. divaricata
r
Sweet Fenugreek
Trigonella suavissima
r
Twin-leaf Bedstraw
Asperula gemella
r
Umbrella Wattle
Acacia oswaldii
v
Waterbush
Myoporum montanum
r
Nationally
threatened
Source: Victorian Flora Information System DSE (2003b)
FFG Listed
Status in Australia under the EPBC Act 1999
L
Listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee
Act 1988
CE
A
An action statement has been prepared for the
management of this species.
A native species is eligible to be included in the
critically endangered category at a particular
time if, at that time, it is facing an extremely
high risk of extinction in the wild in the
immediate future, as determined in accordance
with the prescribed criteria.
E
A native species is eligible to be included in the
endangered category at a particular time if, at
that time:
(a)it is not critically endangered; and
(b)it is facing a very high risk of extinction in the
wild in the near future, as determined in
accordance with the prescribed criteria.
V
A native species is eligible to be included in the
vulnerable category at a particular time if, at
that time:
(a)it is not critically endangered or endangered;
and
(b)it is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild
in the medium-term future, as determined in
accordance with the prescribed criteria.
Status in Victoria
e
Endangered in Victoria, ie. rare and at risk of
disappearing from the wild state if present land
use and other causal factors continue.
v
Vulnerable in Victoria, ie. rare, not presently
endangered but likely to become so soon due
to continued depletion, or which largely occur
on sites likely to experience changes in land
use which threaten the survival of the species.
r
Plants which are rare in Victoria but which are
not considered otherwise threatened. This
category indicates relatively few known stands.
k
species poorly known, suspected of being in
one of the above categories.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 33
Appendix 3 Threatened Status of Fauna
Common name
Scientific name
FFG listed
Threatened in
Victoria
Nationally
threatened
Birds
Australasian Shoveler
Anas rhynchotis
Vul
Baillon's Crake
Porzana pusilla
Black Falcon
Falco subniger
Vul
Black-chinned Honeyeater
Melithreptus gularis
LR
Black-tailed Godwit
Limosa limosa
Vul
Blue-billed Duck
Oxyura australis
L
End
Brolga
Grus rubicunda
L
Vul
Brown Quail
Coturnix ypsilophora
LR
Brown Treecreeper
Climacteris picumnus
LR
Caspian Tern
Sterna caspia
Common Sandpiper
Actitis hypoleucos
Vul
Eastern Curlew
Numenius madagascariensis
LR
Freckled Duck
Stictonetta naevosa
Glossy Ibis
Plegadis falcinellus
Great Egret
Ardea alba
L
Vul
Great Knot
Calidris tenuirostris
L
End
Greater Sand Plover
Charadrius leschenaultii
Grey Falcon
Falco hypoleucos
L
End
Gull-billed Tern
Sterna nilotica
L
End
Hardhead
Aythya australis
Hooded Robin
Melanodryas cucullata
L
LR
Intermediate Egret
Ardea intermedia
L
CEn
Latham's Snipe
Gallinago hardwickii
Little Bittern
Ixobrychus minutus
Little Button-quail
Turnix velox
Little Egret
Egretta garzetta
Long-toed Stint
Calidris subminuta
DD
Magpie Goose
Anseranas semipalmata
Vul
Musk Duck
Biziura lobata
Vul
Nankeen Night Heron
Nycticorax caledonicus
LR
Pacific Golden Plover
Pluvialis fulva
LR
L
Vul
L
L, A
LR
End
LR
Vul
Vul
LR
L
End
LR
L
End
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 34
Common name
Scientific name
FFG listed
Threatened in
Victoria
Nationally
threatened
Birds continued
Painted Snipe
Rostratula benghalensis
L
CEn
Pied Cormorant
Phalacrocorax varius
Plains-wanderer
Pedionomus torquatus
Red Knot
Calidris canutus
LR
Royal Spoonbill
Platalea regia
Vul
Sanderling
Calidris alba
LR
Spotted Harrier
Circus assimilis
LR
Whiskered Tern
Chlidonias hybridus
LR
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
Haliaeetus leucogaster
White-winged Black Tern
Chlidonias leucopterus
LR
L, A
L, A
CEn
V
Vul
LR
Reptiles
Carpet Python
Morelia spilota metcalfei
Tree Goanna
Varanus varius
L
End
Vul
Amphibians
Warty Bell Frog
Litoria raniformis
L
End
V
Flat-headed Galaxias
Galaxias rostratus
L#
DD
Freshwater Catfish
Tandanus tandanus
L, L#
End
Golden Perch
Macquaria ambigua
L#
Vul
Macquarie Perch
Macquaria australasica
L, L#
End
CE
Murray Cod
Maccullochella peelii peelii
L, L#
End
V
Murray Hardyhead
Craterocephalus fluviatilis
L, L#
CEn
V
Silver Perch
Bidyanus bidyanus
L, L#
CEn
Unspecked Hardyhead
Craterocephalus
stercusmuscarum fulvus
L, L#
Fish
Source: Atlas of Victorian Wildlife DSE (2003a)
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 35
FFG Listed
Status in Australia under the EPBC Act 1999
L
Listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee
Act 1988.
CE
L#
Listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee
Act 1988 as part of the Lowland Riverine Fish
Community of the Southern Murray-Darling
Basin.
A native species is eligible to be included in the
critically endangered category at a particular
time if, at that time, it is facing an extremely
high risk of extinction in the wild in the
immediate future, as determined in accordance
with the prescribed criteria.
E
A
An action statement has been prepared for the
management of this species.
A native species is eligible to be included in the
endangered category at a particular time if, at
that time:
(a)it is not critically endangered; and
(b)it is facing a very high risk of extinction in the
wild in the near future, as determined in
accordance with the prescribed criteria.
V
A native species is eligible to be included in the
vulnerable category at a particular time if, at
that time:
(a)it is not critically endangered or endangered;
and
(b)it is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild
in the medium-term future, as determined in
accordance with the prescribed criteria.
Status in Victoria
CEn
Critically Endangered: A taxon that is facing an
extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in
the immediate future.
End
Endangered: A taxon that is not Critically
Endangered but is facing a very high risk of
extinction in the wild in the immediate future.
Vul
Vulnerable: A taxon that is not Critically
Endangered or Endangered but is facing a
high risk of extinction in the wild in the mediumterm future.
LR
Lower Risk – near threatened: A taxon that has
been evaluated, does not satisfy the criteria for
any of the threatened categories, but which is
close to qualifying for Vulnerable. In practice,
these species are most likely to move into a
threatened category should current declines
continue or catastrophes befall the species.
DD
Data Deficient - A taxon where there is
inadequate information to make a direct or
indirect assessment of its risk of extinction
based on its distribution or population
status. Listing of taxa in this category
indicates that more information is required
and acknowledges the possibility that future
investigation will show that a threatened
classification is appropriate. Status in
Australia under the EPBC Act 1999
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE PAGE 36
Appendix 4 JAMBA/CAMBA and Bonn Species
Common name
Scientific name
JAMBA
CAMBA
BONN
Australasian Shoveler
Anas rhynchotis

Australian Shelduck
Tadorna tadornoides

Black Kite
Milvus migrans

Black-tailed Godwit
Limosa limosa
Black-winged Stilt
Himantopus himantopus

Blue-billed Duck
Oxyura australis

Caspian Tern
Sterna caspia
Chestnut Teal
Anas castanea
Common Greenshank
Tringa nebularia



Common Sandpiper
Actitis hypoleucos



Curlew Sandpiper
Calidris ferruginea



Eastern Curlew
Numenius madagascariensis



Fork-tailed Swift
Apus pacificus


Freckled Duck
Stictonetta naevosa
Glossy Ibis
Plegadis falcinellus
Great Egret
Ardea alba


Greater Sand Plover
Charadrius leschenaultii


Grey Falcon
Falco hypoleucos
Marsh Sandpiper
Tringa stagnatilis
Masked Lapwing
Vanellus miles

Pacific Black Duck
Anas superciliosa

Pink-eared Duck
Malacorhynchus membranaceus

Plumed Whistling-Duck
Dendrocygna eytoni

Red Knot
Calidris canutus
Red-capped Plover
Charadrius ruficapillus

Red-kneed Dotterel
Erythrogonys cinctus

Red-necked Avocet
Recurvirostra novaehollandiae

Red-necked Stint
Calidris ruficollis



Ruddy Turnstone
Arenaria interpres



Sanderling
Calidris alba



Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
Calidris acuminata



Wedge-tailed Eagle
Aquila audax
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
Haliaeetus leucogaster
White-winged Black Tern
Chlidonias leucopterus























Source: Atlas of Victorian Wildlife DSE (2003a)
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 37
Appendix 5 Resource List for Kerang Wetlands
Further reading:
North Central Catchment Management Authority,
Regional Management Plan 2001-2002.
Unpublished.
Loddon Murray Land and Water Management
Strategy (2002).
North Central Catchment Management Authority,
Avoca Whole of Catchment Plan 2000-2002.
Unpublished.
North Central Catchment Management Authority
(1997). Loddon Murray Regional Rural Partnership
Program for a Sustainable Economy Beyond 2000.
North Central Catchment Management Authority,
Huntly.
North Central Catchment Management Authority,
Loddon Whole of Catchment Plan 2000-2002.
Unpublished.
North Central Catchment Management Authority
(2000) Regional Floodplain Management Strategy.
North Central Catchment Management Authority,
Huntly.
North Central Catchment Management Authority
(2002) Draft North Central Native Vegetation Plan
2000 Department of Natural Resources and
Environment, Huntly.
Sinclair Knight Merz (1999). Swan Hill Regional
Flood Strategy, Completion Phase, Consultation
and Review Group to Community. Unpublished
report.
Department of Natural Resources and
Environment (2002) Ecological Assessment of
Future Management Options for the Tutchewop
Lakes. Department of Natural Resources and
Environment.
Department of Natural Resources and
Environment (2002) Management of Victoria’s
Wetlands: Strategic Directions Statement.
Department of Natural Resources and
Environment, Victoria.
Sinclair Knight Merz (1999a). Lake Tutchewop
Sustainability: Projections of Physical Conditions to
the Tutchewop Lakes, Background Document.
Report to Department of Natural Resources and
Environment. Unpublished.
Sinclair Knight Merz (1999b). Lake Tutchewop
Sustainability: Projections of Physical Conditions to
the Tutchewop Lakes, Supplementary Document.
Report to Department of Natural Resources and
Environment. Unpublished.
North Central Catchment Management Authority
(2002) Avoca Nutrient Management Strategy,
North Central Catchment Management Authority,
Huntly
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 38
Appendix 5 continued
Contacts for further information and collaboration:

Allinjarra Aboriginal Association Inc.

Bendigo Field and Game


Latrobe University (Environment Section,
Science Department)
Bendigo Field Naturalists

Loddon Shire Council

Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE

Macorna Landcare Group

Benjeroop Landcare Group

Melbourne University

Bird Observers Club of Australia (Echuca
Branch)

Mid Murray Field Naturalists

Murrabit Landcare Group

Birds Australia

Murray-Darling Association

Campaspe Shire Council

Murray-Darling Basin Commission

Central Highlands Waterwatch c/o Creswick
Landcare Centre

Mystic Park & District Landcare Group


Deakin University
North Central Catchment Management
Authority

Echuca Moama Field and Game Association

North Central Waterwatch c/- NCCMA

Fairley Bael Bael Landcare Group


Gannawarra Shire Council
North West Region Aboriginal Cultural
Heritage

Goulburn-Murray Water

Trust for Nature - North Central

Greening Australia

University of Ballarat

Kerang Landcare Group

Victorian Apiarists Association

Koroop/Gannawarra Landcare Group

Victoria National Parks Association (VNPA)

Lake Charm Landcare Group

Wandella Landcare Group

Lake Charm Yacht Club
Related Websites:
www.ramsar.org
www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
www.dse.vic.gov.au
www.deh.gov.au
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 39
Appendix 6 Kerang Wetlands Ramsar Information Sheet1
Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands
Categories approved by Recommendation 4.7 of
the Conference of the Contracting Parties.
1. Date this sheet was completed/updated:
May 1999
2. Country:
Australia
3. Name of wetland:
Kerang Wetlands, Victoria
4. Geographical coordinates:
Latitude: (approx) 35 30' to 35 50'S
Longitude: (approx) 143 42' to 144 10'E
5. Altitude:
Approx 80 metres
6. Area:
9,419 hectares
Note: This is a revised area figure based on GIS
Mapping (1995) and does not represent any
change to the Ramsar Site boundary.
7. Overview:
The Kerang wetlands are a system of lakes and
swamps that differ widely in permanence, depth,
salinity and amounts of aquatic vegetation. The
wetlands are important waterbird habitats. They
support large populations of some common
endemic Australian species and they also provide
habitat for migratory species listed under the
Japan-Australia and the China-Australia Migratory
Birds Agreements.
8. Wetland Type:
Inland: O, Q, Tp and Ts.
9. Ramsar Criteria:
1a, 1b, 2b, 3a, 3b, and 3c.
Please specify the most significant criterion
applicable to the site
10. Map of site included?
No map included.
11. Name and address of the compiler of
this form:
Parks Victoria
378 Cotham Road
Kew VIC 3101 Australia
12. Justification of the criteria selected
under point 9:
1(a) The wetland is a particularly good
representative example of a natural or near-natural
wetland characteristic of the appropriate
biogeographical region.
The Kerang Wetlands are a particularly good
example of a diverse system of inland wetlands in
the Riverina biogeographic region.
1(b) The wetland is a particularly good
representative example of a natural or near-natural
wetland common to more than one
biogeographical region.
The Kerang Wetlands are a particularly good
example of diverse systems of inland lakes and
swamps associated with river floodplains in the
Murray-Darling Basin.
2(b) A wetland is of special value for maintaining
the genetic and ecological diversity of a region
because of the quality and peculiarities of its flora
and fauna.
Kerang wetlands are of special value because it
supports a high diversity and abundance of
waterfowl species (Lugg et al. 1989). It also
supports a large number of native plant species
including a community of Tangled Lignum
shrubland that is under represented in Victoria
wetland reserves (O’Donnell 1990).
3(a) Regularly supports 20,000 waterfowl
Wetlands in the Ramsar site regularly support
more than 20,000 waterfowl, including large
numbers of ducks, eurasian coot, cormorants,
Australian pelicans and ibis (up to 11,000 strawnecked ibis at Hird Swamp and 3,300 at Johnson’s
Swamp). Many wetlands support large numbers of
hoary-headed Grebes (6,500 at Lake Cullen), ibis
and waders (ANCA 1996).
3(b) Regularly supports substantial numbers of
waterfowl from particular groups.
Most of the Kerang Wetlands support significant
numbers of ducks including Grey Teal (up to 85,00
Grey Teal at Lake Cullen), black duck (up to
11,000 at Lake Cullen, 3,000 at Hird Swamp,
2,000 at Johnson’s Swamp), Australian Shelduck
(up to 4,500 at Lake Bael Bael, 8,000 at Lake
Cullen), pink-eared Duck (up to 5,000 at Lake
Cullen) and Australasian shoveler (up to 2,400 at
Lake Cullen) (ANCA 1996).
Lake Cullen has supported up to 44,000 eurasian
coot (ANCA 1996).
1
Ramsar Information Sheets are updated every six years. The last update was in 1999. New or revised information
will be incorporated in the next update, due in 2005.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 40
Third, Middle and Reedy lakes and Hird and
Johnson’s Swamps are important for straw-necked
and white ibis (see below).
3(c ) Regularly supports 1% on the individuals
in a population of one species or subspecies.
Third, Middle and Reedy lakes have supported
more than 10% of the regional breeding population
of Straw-necked Ibis and Australian White Ibis and
more than 5% of the Victorian breeding population
of Royal Spoonbill (ANCA 1996).
Internationally significant numbers of banded stilts
have been recorded at Lake Cullen (6,500) and
Lake William (3,000) (Watkins 1993).
13. General location:
Lower reaches of the Avoca and Loddon Rivers
and the Pyramid Creek near Kerang in northern
Victoria.
14. Physical features:
Much of the Kerang Lakes area consists of Tertiary
alluvium, some being overlain by Quaternary
alluvium from the Avoca and Loddon Rivers.
Lunettes (Quaternary aeolian deposits) occur on
the eastern flanks of many of the wetlands. These
plus the adjacent lakes represent small localised
land systems upon the broad alluvial plains. The
lake sediments are grey, often saline calcareous
clays, while the lunette deposits are finely textured
duplex soils of red sands and calcareous clays.
Soil erosion and salting are common problems
16. Ecological features:
The deep permanent freshwater lakes generally
support a sparse aquatic vegetation apart from a
narrow fringe of Typha spp. The shallow seasonal
wetlands have the most diverse vegetation. These
wetlands often support an over-storey of trees (red
gum and/or black box), an understorey of shrubs
(lignum) and ground layers of grasses and herbs.
During prolonged flooding an aquatic and semiaquatic flora develops, with rushes, sedges,
pondweeds, milfoils, azollas and duckweeds
becoming common.
Semi-permanent freshwater swamps such as
Hird’s and Johnson’s Swamps are dominated by
vegetation, including cumbungi (Typha spp.),
pondweeds, milfoils, eel-grass, floating duckweeds and azollas.
Saline wetlands are dominated by sea tassel
(Ruppia spp.) and alga (Characea). These species
are abundant at the lower salinities (e.g. 10,000 30,000 EC) but become progressively less
common up to 100,000 EC (i.e. in hypersaline
wetlands).
The diversity of wetland type and the associated
diversity of vegetation types present a wide range
of habitats for waterbirds.
17. Noteworthy flora:
Acacia oswaldii (umbrella wattle) - depleted in
Victoria.
The region has a 'semi-arid' climate, with an annual
rainfall of less than 400 mm. Summers are typically
hot and winters mild. Rainfall mainly occurs as low
intensity winter falls, the remainder is largely via
irregular summer storms.
Present in black box and tangled lignum vegetation
communities of Lake Bael Bael.
The individual shallow swamps and lakes of this
system range in salinity from freshwater marshes
to highly saline lakes. Permanent wetlands are the
dominant type within the area. This is due to a
constantly available water supply - irrigation quality
water in the supply lakes and drainage water in the
saline lakes and evaporation basins. Water depths
vary from very shallow, i.e. less than 1 metre, to in
excess of 8 metres. Kangaroo Lake is the deepest
lake at 8.4 metres.
Present in periodically flooded situations in red
gum, black box and tangled lignum communities of
Third Lake, Town Swamp and Cemetery Swamp.
15. Hydrological values:
Eight of the wetlands are Water Supply Reserves
(Reedy Lake, Middle Lake, Third Lake, Little Lake
Charm, Lake Charm, Racecourse Lake, Kangaroo
Lake and Cullen's Lake) and three are Salinity
Disposal Reserves (Lake Kelly, Lake William and
Lake Tutchewop)
Asperula gemella (twin-leaf bedstraw) - vulnerable
in Victoria.
Muehlenbeckia horrida (spiny lignum) - rare in
Victoria.
Restricted to clay soils. Found mainly in open
chenopod shrublands, but also in Red Gum, Black
Box and dry grassland communities. Reedy Lake,
Middle Lake, Little Lake Charm, Racecourse Lake,
Kangaroo Lake, Lake Charm and Cullen's Lake
Ranunculus undosus (swamp buttercup) vulnerable in Victoria.
Found in swamp margins and in drainage lines, in
shallow water and wet or drying mud. Restricted to
areas of regular shallow flooding. Within reedbed,
Tangled Lignum or wet grassland (herbfield)
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 41
communities of Reedy Lake, Town Common (Back
Swamp) and Town Swamp.
Callitris columellaris (white cypress pine) and
Allocasuarina leuhmanii (buloke) - both depleted in
Victoria.
These have highly depleted distributions in the
Kerang Lakes area. Formerly with extensive
coverage across the plains, these species have
been heavily cleared, and are now limited to a few
locations. Most individuals remaining are
overmature, with little chance of regeneration due
to high intensity grazing. Both species are found at
Lake Bael Bael. White Cypress Pine is also found
at Kangaroo Lake and Buloke is also found at
Cullen's Lake.
Species of Significant Environmental Value:
Species such as red gum (Eucalyptus
camaldulensis) and black box (E. largiflorens) are
important in that they provide a habitat capable of
supporting a range of flora and fauna. Tangled
Lignum (Muehlenbeckia cunninghamii) is the major
nesting site for ibis (Threskiornis spp.), an
abundant bird of the Kerang Lakes area.
Reedbeds of Cumbungi (Typha spp.) and common
reed (Phragmites australis) are also significant,
providing important habitat for birds such as the
Clamorous Reed Warbler (Acrocephalum
stentoreus). Black-seeded glasswort (Halosarcia
pergranulata ssp. pergranulata) is the major plant
capable of dominating saline soils in the Kerang
Lakes area; without it, problems of erosion and
environmental degradation would be much worse.
Sea tassel (Ruppia spp.) is the only aquatic
macrophyte to dominate saline lakes; without it, the
potential of these lakes to support a diverse fauna
is markedly diminished.
Additional threatened species:
Eragrostis falcata (sickle love-grass) - rare in
Victoria
Panicum decompositum (Australian millet) - rare in
Victoria
Atriplex stipitata (kidney saltbush) - vulnerable in
Victoria
Trigonella suavissima (sweet fenugreek) - rare in
Victoria
18. Noteworthy fauna:
The lakes with flooded forest, reedbeds or tangled
lignum are important breeding areas for waterbirds
(e.g. Middle Lake and Hird Swamp regularly
contain more than 1000 nesting straw-necked and
sacred Ibis; Second and Third Marsh support
breeding colonies of pied, little pied, black and little
black cormorants, darter, yellow and royal spoonbill
and high densities of hollow nesting waterfowl.)
During summer and particularly during drought
large flocks of waterfowl concentrate on the more
open lakes (e.g. Cullens Lake 100000 Hardhead in
1975, 70000 Grey Teal in 1988). Migratory waders
are common around saline lakes. A number of
waders species seen rarely in Victoria have been
recorded.
Bony bream (Nematolos erebi) is a rare fish
species in Victoria. In the Kerang wetlands, this fish
is found in Kangaroo Lake, Lake Bael Bael and
Lake Charm.
Threatened bird species:

Darter (Anhinga melanogaster) - restricted
colonial breeding in Victoria

Great Egret (Ardea alba) - restricted colonial
breeding in Victoria

Whiskered Tern (Childonias hybridus) restricted colonial breeding in Victoria

Grey Falcon (Falco hypoleucos) - vulnerable
in Victoria

Black Falcon (Falco subniger) - rare in Victoria

White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus
leucogaster) - rare in Victoria

Eastern Curlew (Numenius
madagascariensis) - rare in Victoria

Blue-billed Duck (Oxyura australis) - rare in
Victoria

Plains Wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus) vulnerable in Victoria and nationally

Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius) restricted colonial breeding in Victoria

Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia) - restricted
colonial breeding in Victoria

Painted Snipe (Rostratula benghalensis) insufficiently known

Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica) - restricted
colonial breeding in Victoria

Diplachne fusca (brown beetle-grass) - rare in
Victoria
Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa) - rare in
Victoria

Cynodon dactylon var. pulchellus (native couch) insufficiently known in Victoria
Regent Honeyeater (Xanthomyza phrygia) endangered in Victoria and nationally
Threatened fish species:

Golden Perch (Macquaria ambigua) - rare in
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 42
Victoria

Murray Hardyhead (Craterocephalus
fluviatilis) - rare in Victoria

Silver Perch (Bidyanus bidyanus) - vulnerable
in Victoria

Freshwater Catfish (Tandanus tandanus) vulnerable in Victoria
Threatened reptile species:

Carpet Python (Morelia spilota variegata) vulnerable in Victoria
19. Social and cultural values:
(no information entered on sheet)
20. Land tenure/ownership:
Of the 22 wetlands, 7 are State Wildlife Reserves
(Lake Bael Bael, First Marsh, Second Marsh, Third
Marsh, Stevenson Swamp, Hird Swamp and
Johnson Swamp), 8 are Water Supply Reserves
(Reedy Lake, Middle Lake, Third Lake, Little Lake
Charm, Lake Charm, Racecourse Lake, Kangaroo
Lake and Lake Cullen), 3 are Salinity Disposal
Reserves (Lake Kelly, Lake William and Lake
Tutchewop) and 4 are Crown Land without specific
reservation.
21. Current land use:

the site: The lakes are used for nature
conservation, recreation, saline water
disposal, irrigation water storage and
transport, duck hunting and sewerage
disposal.
tailwater disposal to wetlands and the isolation of
wetlands from the natural flood flows is causing
increases in lake salinity and associated changes
in biota.
23. Conservation measures taken:
The values of First, Second and Third Marshes
and Cullen's Lake have been recognised by listing
on the Register of the National Estate.
The conservation values of the Kerang Wetlands
have been identified in a series of studies (on
waterbirds, vegetation, invertebrates, fish and
recreation) by the Kerang Lakes Assessment
Group. These studies contribute to a wider
Irrigation Management Plan for the Kerang Area.
The studies identified actions required to maintain
or enhance the conservation values of the Kerang
Lakes.
An Environmental Watering Program has
commenced to restore more natural watering
regimes in several of the wetlands.
The outlet at Third Marsh has been modified to
alleviate prolonged flooding.
Action Statements under the Flora and Fauna
Guarantee Act 1988 have been produced for the
following fauna species which occur at this Ramsar
site. The statements outline conservation
measures for these species.

Grey Falcon (1997)
the surroundings/catchment: Dryland and
irrigation farming.

White-bellied Sea-eagle (1994)
22. Factors (past, present or potential)
adversely affecting the site's ecological
character, including changes in land
use and development projects:

Plains Wanderer (1995)

Regent Honeyeater (1994)

Ecological change has not been significant since
the Ramsar information sheet for the site was last
updated in 1992.
Historically, the Kerang Lakes have undergone
significant changes in water regime since the
development of the Torrumbarry Irrigation System
in 1896. After the upgrading of the system in 1923,
land salinisation became a major problem and
shallow water tables became widespread leading
to an increase in the salinity levels in many of the
wetlands.
Altered catchment hydrology resulting in greater
river flows has caused lakes on the Avoca River to
fill more frequently causing decline of Red Gum
forests.
Saline groundwater intrusion from local and
regional groundwater tables, saline irrigation
24. Conservation measures proposed but
not yet implemented:
Lake Bael Bael and First, Second and Third
Marshes:
modification of the upper catchment to reduce
flooding and salinity of Avoca River water.
a strategy to eradicate the problem of saline
groundwater inflows to Second and Third Marshes.
Cullen's Lake:
regular flushing to reduce salinity levels, prevention
of uncontrolled grazing and cultivation along
shoreline.
In an integrated approach to planning at Ramsar
sites, management strategies are being prepared
for all Ramsar sites in Victoria, including the
Kerang Wetlands, to provide general strategic
direction and site specific strategies. The strategies
will be completed by June 1999.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE KERANG WETLANDS RAMSAR SITE
PAGE 43
25. Current scientific research and
facilities:
Much survey work was undertaken during the
planning phase of the 1992 Salinity Management
Plan on flora and fauna inhabiting the Lakes.
Tree health and water quality have been monitored
for many Kerang wetlands.
Water quality monitoring is ongoing.
26. Current conservation education:
There is a bird hide located at Reedy Lake with
an associated information display.
27. Current recreation and tourism:
The public land of the Kerang Lakes area is a very
valuable resource for recreation. Land based
activities, water based activities and water
enhanced activities are all catered for. The value of
the land for recreation partially stems from its
natural ecological assets, its plant life and its
wildlife, but also from the reliable supply of fresh
water which has been brought into the area for
irrigation purposes. Activities include pleasure
driving/sightseeing, camping, picnicking,
swimming, sailing, waterskiing, boating, fishing,
hunting and nature study/appreciation.
30. Bibliographical references:
Fleming, G. (1990). Report to the Kerang Lakes
Area Working Group. Report No. 3. The Aquatic
Invertebrate and Fish Faunas of the Kerang Lakes
Area. Department of Conservation and
Environment, Bendigo Region.
Heron, S. and C. Nieuwland. (1989). Recreation on
Public Land in the Kerang Lakes Area.
Lugg, A. (1989). Report to the Kerang Lakes Area
Working Group. Report No. 4. Waterbirds of the
Wetlands of the Kerang Lakes Area. Department
of Conservation, Forests and Lands, Bendigo
Region.
Lugg, A., S. Heron, G. Fleming and T. O'Donnell.
(1989). Report to the Kerang Lakes Area Working
Group. Report No. 1. Conservation Value of
Wetlands in the Kerang Lakes Area. Department of
Conservation, Forests and Lands, Bendigo
Region.
O'Donnell, T. (1990). Report to the Kerang Lakes
Area Working Group. Report No. 2. Vegetation of
the Wetlands in the Kerang Lakes Area.
Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands,
Bendigo Region.
28. Jurisdiction:
Government of Victoria.
29. Management authority:
Managed under the Department of Natural
Resources and Environment Parks Program by
Parks Victoria - 8,389 Ha (89%)
Wetlands Scientific Committee. (1993). Victoria’s
High Value Wetlands. Department of Natural
Resources and Environment.
Natural Resources and Environment - 169 Ha
(1.8%)
Water Authority - 861 Ha (9.2%)
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PAGE 44