Corangamite catchment authority's $50 million plans for improvement

MORE than $50.5 million will be spent on improving rivers, estuaries and wetlands in the Corangamite catchment area between Port Campbell and Geelong under an eight-year strategy plan.

The proposed works would include $4.3m in the Gellibrand River catchment, $4.36m in the Lismore district, $2.75m in the Stony Rises and $1.58m in the Curdies catchment.

It will involve a co-ordinated effort by landholders, partner organisations and the community.

Corangamite Catchment Management Authority is holding a number of community meetings to gauge feedback on the strategy before it goes to approval stage. Meetings will be in Colac on July 29, Camperdown on August 5 and Apollo Bay on August 6. Written comments must be submitted by August 18.

The draft plan says climate change will require public and private landholders to adapt to future weather conditions expected to be hotter and drier with higher frequency of extreme events including floods and bushfires.

“It will also present opportunities to capitalise on the new circumstances, for example, changing tourism and recreation, introducing new crops and livestock enterprises and participating in carbon farming initiatives,” the draft says.

“Corangamite CMA acknowledges that climate change needs to be considered now to ensure we appropriately plan for managing the region’s natural assets, including its waterways, into the future.”

Part of the forward action will be construction of an interactive internet portal to present up-to-date information to help waterway managers plan for climate change.

The catchment covers from Port Campbell to Geelong and north to Ballarat with 78 per cent of the area in private ownership and mostly used for agriculture. One of the key recommended changes is to improve co-ordination for opening estuaries which in the past have produced friction between landholders and environmentalists.

In reference to the Curdies River the report says “artificially opening the estuary can result in adverse impacts to the surrounding environment and species that live there”.

“To balance these conflicting needs, a careful risk-based approach needs to be taken to manage the Curdies River estuary,” it says.

Grazing and the red fox are also listed as key threats.

“Livestock access to waterways can erode banks, damage riparian vegetation and reduce waterway quality through sedimentation and effluent contamination,” it says.

Works for the Curdies landscape zone also include native vegetation and fencing, weed and pest animal control.

Recommendations for the Lismore area include establishment of a controlled grazing regime, fencing, pest control and a review of operating rules for the Woady Yaloak diversion scheme.

Grazing is also listed as a key threat for the Stony Rises which contains 946 kilometres of rivers and streams and 535 wetlands including lakes Beeac, Bullen Merri and Colac.

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