National Wetlands Update February 2013
Issue No. 22, February 2013
Unravelling the story of change at Long Swamp, south-west Victoria
Mark Bachmann, Nature Glenelg Trust
Nature Glenelg Trust is working with its partners and using a range of ecological skills to bring together information that will improve the management of important wetlands on public land.
Long Swamp is a nationally recognised wetland of significant public interest in south west Victoria, located almost entirely within Discovery Bay Coastal Park - a reserve managed by Parks Victoria. Like many wetlands across southern Australia, the hydrology of Long Swamp appears to have been altered by a range of factors, including the cutting or deepening of channels to the sea, since European settlement. As a result, there is concern within the local community about the current trends of changes within the wetland system, namely, a shift in vegetation types and loss of aquatic habitat as a result of a drying trend, and a reduction of natural flows into the Glenelg River Estuary.
Nature Glenelg Trust is now working in partnership with the local community and the agencies responsible for the management of Long Swamp to:
- better understand the current values of the system
- document the historic and current trajectory of change, and
- in time, articulate future management options that are based around a sound set of principles that are guided by the scientific work undertaken.
Coincidentally, one of the outlets to the sea (in the vicinity of White Sands) now remains naturally closed, with a dune forming in front of the former outlet. This outlet was artificially cut by fishermen decades ago, but naturally closed during the last drought. There are some interesting changes taking place as a result of water levels recovering in that part of Long Swamp.
A dune has formed in front of a former artificial outlet at White Sands.
The Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority, with funding from the Victorian Government, contracted Nature Glenelg Trust to undertake a fish and frog study in 2012 to better understand the aquatic fauna of Long Swamp, and potential links between the swamp and the estuarine/marine environment. This information will also inform the Estuary Entrance Management Support System, a database that guides decisions regarding artificially opening estuaries, including the Glenelg River mouth.
The Trust is also hoping to undertake a comprehensive spatial analysis of historic wetland extent and vegetation change within Long Swamp, along with a similar, nearby wetland system at Piccaninnie Ponds – situated on the opposite side of the Glenelg River Estuary. This information should make it possible to objectively review the current and past values of the system and its trajectory of change, with a view to clarifying and setting goals for water management in Long Swamp that best serve the diverse ecology of this important site into the future. Keep up to date with the Nature Glenelg Trust review into the ecology and management options for Long Swamp through its website: Nature Glenelg Trust .
The recovering swamp at White Sands after two years of no winter outflows to the sea, July 2012.