February 2 marked the United Nations World Wetland Day.
Wetlands perform many functions and are important for environmental, economic, social and cultural reasons.
They can help reduce the impacts from storm damage and flooding, maintain good water quality in rivers – and even store carbon and help control pests.
In Australia, wetlands also have Aboriginal cultural significance and are important for science and education.
“Wetland restoration is not necessarily the first thing we think of when we think of forestry,” Deb Kerr, CEO, Victorian Forest Products Association, said.
“But what many people don’t realise is that our growers actively care for the land on which they operate,” Ms Kerr said.
“That means improving the land, looking after it and leaving it better than they found it.”
Some of VFPA members are involved in helping to restore wetlands. HVP Plantations is part of an exciting wetlands restoration project in Gippsland.
The Providence Ponds and Perry River catchment is located between the Great Dividing Range and the Gippsland Lakes. It has unique and significant assets including Chain of Ponds and associated Sandy Floor Scrub vegetation, Gippsland Red Gum Grassy Woodlands, and a diversity of wetlands. These habitats support a surprisingly rich array of plants and animals that are not found in other places in Victoria.
“We were very happy to be actively involved in this project,” Tim McBride, environment and certification manager at HVP Plantations, said.
The Chain of Ponds system we have here is unique, and worth protecting and rehabilitating,” he said.
The stakeholder group involved is made up of government departments, private and public land holders and the Gunai Kurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation, local councils, Landcare Australia and many more.
“We undertake targeted on-ground actions to address the key threats to intact ponds and recovering ponds and vegetation restoration works,” Mr McBride said.
“There’s often a misconception of what forestry involves. It doesn’t stop with harvesting trees, and it certainly doesn’t start there, either. Careful ongoing forest management includes environmental protection, while extracting and replanting sustainable amounts of timber. The results of the Sandy Creek Pond are a testament to that.”