A project to restore the health of the Glenelg River has won Australia’s biggest environmental award.
Environment groups and hundreds of landowners who have worked on the project for more than a decade were rewarded on Tuesday evening when the Glenelg River Restoration Project won the $200,000 Australian Riverprize.
The award, presented by the International River Foundation in Brisbane, recognises river management programs that are “outstanding, visionary and sustainable”.
The restoration program involved 628 landholder families along the river working with the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and other agencies over more than 10 years to restore the health of the waterway.
Presenting the award, Senator Simon Birmingham said the project included the biggest river fencing and protection program in Victoria’s history.
Glenelg Hopkins CMA chief executive Kevin Wood said the award was an extraordinary achievement for organisations and individuals who had worked so hard on the project.
“In particular, this award is owned by the 628 landholder families along the Glenelg River who have partnered with the CMA and other agencies to care for our iconic waterway,” Mr Wood said.
He said the river was at the point of ecological collapse during the mid-2000s due to low flows, poor water quality, loss of habitat, and weed and carp invasion.
“Some courageous decisions have been made in the past decade in restoring health to the river which were not always supported when they were initiated.
“The project has pushed the boundaries of conventional river management and original and innovative approaches have been used.”
The project won the award ahead of the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners’ Lake Condah and Darlots Creek project, also in the Glenelg Hopkins region, and Tweed River in northern NSW.
Most of the prizemoney will be used for more river health project in the Glenelg Hopkins region.