EGCMA Staff Kim Allan, Bridget Potts and Bryce Watts-Parker at the Beechworth

Three East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) staff travelled over the mountain to attend the 23rd Wise Waterways Workshop in Beechworth.

The workshop ran over five days, and staff heard from industry leaders, undertook practical fieldwork and finished off with a team presentation.

Topics included geomorphic processes of rivers whereby rivers are shaped by flowing water and floods, including erosion, sediment transport, and deposition. This process continually reshapes the landscape by carving channels, sculpting riverbanks, and influencing the formation of river and stream features.

What works and what doesn’t work in river rehabilitation was discussed. This included key solutions for long-term bank stability of using native plants to strengthen riverbanks, rock beaching, introducing pile fields, rock chutes and utilising timber and other natural materials to stabilise streams.

Keeping communities updated and informed about river health work is extremely important, particularly during emergencies such as fires and floods. The keynote speaker, Jamie Simmonds, Principal Consultant at Water Technology and from Queensland University, discussed the management and responses to the major flood events in Grantham and Lismore communities.

A significant workshop component was collaborating with other river health managers from organisations in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and Queensland.

Bec Hemming, East Gippsland CMA’s CEO, said, “We pride ourselves as an industry leader in catchment management, and we ensure that our staff have access to training that ensures they increase and expand their knowledge.”

Thirty-five attendees were split into five groups at the workshop and given a site to assess and report on how they would manage the site and present it back to the cohort. The team presentations were judged by industry and community experts. Our staff captained two of the teams.

Significant efforts have been invested in bushfire recovery over the past three years, and more work is being done.

The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) continues to invest in bushfire recovery works in response to the 2019/20 bushfires.

Following bushfires, new weeds are expected to emerge, with weeds often being the first thing that grows following a disturbance. Last year, over 730ha of woody weed control was completed in fire-affected areas, and over 2,300ha have been treated since the bushfires.

Bec Hemming, East Gippsland CMA’s CEO said, “We have been working closely with Parks Victoria and the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) to tackle remote weeds, sharing projects and information to cover all areas of concern.”

The East Gippsland CMA had contractors working on the Tambo River, targeting weeds that have flourished since the bushfires. Weeds can outcompete the native species, spreading thickly and altering the natural landscape.

Two weeds on the hit list along the Tambo River included Cape Ivy and Blue Periwinkle. Both grow along the riverbanks, with Blue Periwinkle dominating the understory and excluding native species. Cape Ivy can climb up taller shrubs and trees, creating a vision of choking clumps as they grow up the host. Over 40ha of the Tambo River’s banks have so far been treated.

Whilst the weeds enjoyed the wetter seasons following the bushfires, so did many native plants and shrubs. On a stretch of the Tambo River where the weeds dominate, just a few kilometres away, multiple species of natives are growing successfully. Larger native species create the perfect canopy and safe place for smaller species to flourish. Over 15 species of native grasses, plants and trees were identified in one small section along the banks of the Tambo River.

Pioneer species, such as silver wattle, tend to grow quickly and in abundance following a fire. Still, this has advantages as they assist with soil stabilisation and creating habitat for birds and insects whilst other natives recover and grow.

“Remote weed control can be difficult to undertake, agencies and contractors work closely together to treat willows, broom, and blackberries in quite natural and remote areas.” Bec said.

A threatened native fish species, an Australian grayling, has been found at the top of the newly constructed fishway in the Buchan River.

The Buchan River rock ramp fishway was built to address the barrier to native fish migration caused by the Buchan River’s potable water supply log weir.

Post-construction fish monitoring was completed last week with the exciting find of an Australian grayling. The fish was found at the top of the fishway, a section of the river that they wouldn’t have been able to get to before the fishway was constructed.

“This is inspiring news and exactly what we were hoping monitoring would prove, that fish can now migrate upstream of the weir, and the fact that a threatened species was found is icing on the cake.” Said Bec Hemming, East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority’s CEO.

Monitoring before construction of the fishway provided a snapshot of native fish populations close to the weir. Seven species of native fish were detected, with fewer upstream than downstream.

The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority worked with East Gippsland Water to construct the fishway designed and built to allow fish to migrate a further 127km along the upper reaches of the Buchan River.

The Buchan Fishway project forms part of a $248 million investment by the Victorian Government to improve the health of waterways and catchments across regional Victoria.

East Gippsland is home to some of Victoria’s 2000 hectares of Alpine Peatlands.

Alpine peatlands, or Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens, are a nationally threatened ecological system found high in the Alps at the head of Victoria’s catchments.

Peatlands act as a sponge, absorbing and holding moisture, and are a great water filtration system. They also provide habitat to several endemic and threatened species of flora and fauna, including the Alpine Tree Frog, Baw Baw Frog, and the Alpine Water Skink.

During a five-year cross regional project and for over a decade, Parks Victoria has worked with partners, experts and volunteers to protect these peatlands through invasive species control, weed management, research and monitoring.

The five-year Cross Regional Victorian Alpine Peatland Protection Project, delivered by Parks Victoria, in collaboration across three CMA regions (North East, East Gippsland and West Gippsland), through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program

Acting East Gippsland CMA CEO Amber Clarke said this cross-regional project focussed on improving the resilience of the fragile peatlands to protect and enhance these unique environments.

“Partnerships are paramount in completing a project like this, as they foster collaborative efforts, share resources and expertise, ensuring a comprehensive and effective approach to addressing any challenges.” Said Amber

“To mark the completion of this five-year Cross Regional Victorian Alpine Peatlands Protection project, North East CMA has released a video that can be viewed here.”

Partners in the video include Parks Victoria, North East CMA, East Gippsland CMA, West Gippsland CMA and Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation.

These Peatlands are crucial not only because they provide homes for many species, including threatened ones, but they also regulate the flow of water, ensuring the balance of surrounding ecosystems and influencing water health further down the catchment. This is important for the whole community.

Pictured: Trevor Caithness, CEO Gippsland Agriculture Group with Bec Hemming, CEO East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority

East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority partnered with East Gippsland farmers, groups, and agencies to look at ways to improve drought resilience for East Gippsland farms. The project, known as Sowing the Gap, has now been completed.

Bec Hemming, CEO at EGCMA, met with Trevor Caithness, CEO of Gippsland Agricultural Group (GAgG), to discuss the project findings. Bec said, “GAaG, Southern Farming Systems, East Gippsland Shire, Wellington Shire and Ag Vic have all worked together to build knowledge and understanding of cropping options to manage future droughts.”

Trevor said, “Projects like this allow farmers to discuss crop varieties, techniques and strategies together that have worked well. We know not all options work every time, but we have been able to practice cropping techniques and see how various varieties respond. Learning is partly about the data but also the practice. In this project, we have done both these things together.”

“Seeing people working together to test new options and trial them in different parts of East Gippsland has been fantastic.”

The project has comprised two main parts. Firstly, farmers have been trialling different fodder cropping methods and varieties in areas of East Gippsland from the high country to the coast. Trevor said, “farmers have been visiting the sites and discussing how they performed. We had some challenges with continued wet weather, but that is the type of variability we have to cope with in our normal businesses.”

By documenting and sharing knowledge and findings, the project has been a source of information sharing for many farmers.

Bec said, “the project has also collected stories from farmers on how they managed in the last drought. The stories were published as newspaper and can be found here.”

Trevor says, “we also videoed each farmer involved to provide their insights. These are linked to the partner agencies’ websites for people to view in their own time. I think farmers would be well served to have a look at these. They are simply stated and give great insight into people’s approaches to dry times.”
All farmers know that managing through drought is very difficult. What works on one farm may not suit another.

Trevor said, “the most important thing is to have a plan and implement it. It can be as simple or complicated as you choose, but having a plan is super important before the next dry period hits.”
This project is supported by East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority through funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund, East Gippsland Shire Council, Gippsland Agricultural Group and Southern Farming Systems.

Learning just got a whole lot wilder in classrooms across East Gippsland.

Our young environmentalists got up close and personal with some Australian native animals to help them discover the importance of our catchments and what we can do to protect them.

From the cute and cuddly to the cold and scaly, our friends from Black Snake Productions brought along their display of awesome wildlife to teach the students how each animal plays a crucial role in maintaining a balance of biodiversity in our environment.

Armed with newfound knowledge, the students brainstormed ideas on actively contributing to healthier catchments for us all to live in and enjoy from our backyard, urban areas and into our forests and national parks.

Minister for Water, Harriet Shing with EGCMA’s Rachael Brownstein at the Buchan Fishway site

Native fish can now migrate freely up the Buchan River with construction of the first fishway in East Gippsland now complete.

Minister for Water Harriet Shing visited the Buchan River to officially open the completed rock ramp fishway in the Buchan River between Lousadas Road bridge and the Buchan water supply log weir.

Removing this barrier will provide native fish populations with access to an additional 127km of the largely undisturbed forested reaches of the Buchan River upstream of the Buchan township.

The project was funded from a $275,000 investment by the Andrews Labor Government and will remove the barrier caused by the weir and allow fish to migrate further along the river.

Construction of the fishway involved placing a range of different sized rocks within the Buchan River in accordance with a specialised design, that allows fish to swim up and over the weir.

Monitoring of fish populations before construction showed seven native fish species lived downstream of the weir. Species identified included Long-finned eel, Australian bass, Congoli or Tupong, Common galaxias, Flat-headed gudgeon, Australian smelt and Southern pygmy perch.

Finding Southern pygmy perch in the Buchan River is particularly significant because they are listed as a threatened species.

The results from the monitoring confirmed there were fewer fish species upstream of the weir compared to downstream.

The Buchan River is a much loved destination for locals and visitors to fish and explore nature, this new fishway will help boost the native fish populations and health of the river for generations to come.

This great project is a first for the East Gippsland and will ensure our precious native fish species can now move freely upstream on the Buchan River and access high quality habitat to feed and breed.

Further fish monitoring will be undertaken in Spring 2023.

The fishway is part of a $248 million investment by the Andrews Labor Government to improve the health of waterways and catchments across regional Victoria.

EGCMA Staff at the Buchan Fishway after a day of planting
EGCMA Staff Bridget and Amber planting at the Buchan Fishway
EGCMA Staff member Ryan planting at the Buchan Fishway
Bec Hemming with EGCMA Chair, Ewan Waller

The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority has announced the appointment of its new Chief Executive Officer.

Following a rigorous recruitment process and a field of highly competitive candidates, the Board has announced that East Gippsland local Bec Hemming will be the new CEO for the EGCMA.

Bec is well known and respected in the East Gippsland region and has been leading the EGCMA over the past 12 months as Acting CEO and prior to that was Delivery and Program Manager for 9 years. Bec has been working with the EGCMA since 2004.

Bec will bring to the role a deep knowledge of the East Gippsland region, strong relationships with partners and connection to communities, expertise in natural resource management and focus on supporting self-determination of Traditional Owners and First Nations people. Bec will also drive innovation and collaboration in areas such as climate adaptation and has recently established the Climate Change Collective across East Gippsland region government agencies.

EGCMA Chair Ewan Waller said: “Bec is an innovative leader with a passion for serving communities and clear understanding of the responsibilities of stewardship of our natural resources for future generations.”

“I also want to recognise and thank our retiring CEO, Graeme Dear, for his outstanding leadership, vision, and service over the last 20 years”.

Bec said: “I am thrilled to be appointed as the new CEO. East Gippsland is a beautiful region, and I am passionate about working with communities to enhance our landscapes, biodiversity, and cultural heritage.

I’m looking forward to getting started in the role, continuing with bushfire and flood recovery works, strengthening partnerships with Traditional Owners, mitigating and adapting to climate variability, and improving the health of the Gippsland Lakes and surrounding catchments.”

Bec will formally commence in the role on 1 September 2023.

EGCMA Staff and Alluvium consultants at Forge Creek

On a day out with Alluvium consultants to better understand fluvial geomorphology or, in simpler terms, the study of how streams function and the interaction between streams and the landscape around them, EGCMA staff visited a site on Forge Creek.

For the last 20 years, this site has seen hours and hours of work put in by volunteers from Romawi Landcare Group and Waterwatch volunteers with a significant amount of effort installing rock chutes, planting vegetation to control erosion and monitoring water quality.

The pictures show how much the landscape has changed thanks to the efforts put in by so many.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country throughout East Gippsland and pay our respects to them, their culture and their Elders past and present.