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Friends of Winton Wetlands seek volunteers to support recovery project

Nature’s beauty: A drone shot of Winton Wetlands by local photographer Rene Martens. Photo by Rene Martens

The Friends of Winton Wetlands are calling for volunteers to take up the challenge and help refresh the group in its support of the Winton Wetlands Recovery Project.

Committee member Wendy Baker said the project to restore the wetlands to a functioning system had attracted worldwide interest.

“There is a growing demand for knowledge of the management of natural systems under pressure from climate change and human activities,” Ms Baker said.

“Winton Wetlands is providing a window into managing a range of challenges as a result of changes from the introduction of farming, the creation of Lake Mokoan in the late ’60s, and the lake’s decommissioning in 2010.

“It’s easy to be mislead by the appearance of the wetlands as they are.

“If you look past the standing dry trees there is a lot of going on in there in a natural vibrant system that depends on the regular wetting and drying cycle of an ephemeral wetland.”

The wetlands have shown an astonishing resilience whenever water arrives, with plant life and macro-invertebrates booming, attracting thousands of water birds.

Ms Baker said one of the biggest challenges was to restore the overstorey trees, ones which tower above the canopy, in the wet areas and the grassy woodland of the surrounding dry land.

“Visitors to the reserve will see how much has already been done with tree planting, now the focus is shifting to include understorey species where appropriate,” she said.

In the 10 years since it was established, the group has provided support for the wetland management team in a range of activities, including wetland ecology education, planting, wildlife monitoring, the running of information sessions and even overnight camp-outs to enjoy the reserve with day and night activities.

Turtle conservation is an ongoing activity and the group provides support to the Growling Grass Frog Reintroduction (re-wilding) Project.

The reserve has become a popular destination for bike riders and ecological tourists — locals and visitors to the area.

“In recent times key members of The Friends have moved on to other things and we are now at the point where we need a fresh start with new ideas and enthusiasm to support this highly unusual project at a time when the environment needs all the support we can give,” Ms Baker said.

If you believe that you can be an asset to the cause, email the committee of the Friends of Winton Wetlands at friendsofwintonwetlands@gmail.com