Conservation and ecosystems on the edge at Wyangala Dam

Landholders and environmental groups are spending significant time, energy, and finances maintaining natural habitats for bird species and other animals near Wyangala Dam, which will be threatened if the dam wall is raised.

The restoration of these habitats is creating an ecosystem protecting Australian animals, including some listed as threatened and vulnerable.

ENVIRONMENT: Sean Proudman (right) planting species of eucalypts on his property near the Wyangala Dam. Photo: supplied

ENVIRONMENT: Sean Proudman (right) planting species of eucalypts on his property near the Wyangala Dam. Photo: supplied

Sean and Brenda Proudman, landowners between Reid's Flat and Grabine on the Lachlan River, are part of the Environmental Stewardship Program planting native trees to conserve and protect the environment.

Mr Proudman's prediction is that higher water inundation levels will devastate the plantings on his property destroying critical habitat for many migratory species.

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In a recent survey by Doctor Tony Saunders, birdwatcher and consultant, at the Proudman's property, 114 species of bird were seen, including five threatened species: the Diamond Firetail; Hooded Robin; Speckled Warbler; Brown Treecreeper, and; Turquoise Parrot. And three protected migratory species: the Dollar Bird, Rainbow Bee-eater, and; the White-bellied Sea Eagle.

"We've planted Yellow Box to encourage the Superb Parrot to the area, as well as White Box, Blakely's Red Gum, and other threatened species," Mr Proudman said.

Water NSW, project director Stephen Negus said, the final levels have not been mapped.

During an outreach meeting with NSW Farmers in August, Mr Negus said inundation levels were not released because of inaccuracy in the data, and that further drone surveys would "firm up mapping".

"The hydrology modelling is a key part of that to determine the downstream impacts and the upstream impacts, we expect to have that finalised before the end of the year," Mr Negus said.

Since May, Water NSW representatives have been speaking with direct landowners, Mr Negus said, "we have engaged with nearly all of the landowners.

"There is quite a cohort that lives in Sydney, and quite a lot with a hobby farm - we haven't been able to get to everyone yet.

"We are having conversations with those at the potential inundation lines and what it might mean going forward," he said.

Existing conservation loss is number one concern

Since 1996, Hovells Creek Landcare Group (HCLG) located in the central west, south-east of Cowra, has planted 55,000 native trees and shrubs.

The community group has been active in sustainable land and environmental management in the area immediately south-west and bordering Wyangala Dam since the mid-1990s.

HCLG has re-established around 42 kilometres of habitat corridors, stepping-stone cluster plantings, and protected areas of remnant vegetation. Further, the community group received funding under the Habitat Restoration at the Grassy Box Gum - K2W Flyways Interface. It provided a link between at least 22 properties for a wildlife corridor for birds, bats, insects, reptiles and mammals.

Most of the conservation and plantings were supported by agencies of the NSW Government including, but not limited to, the NSW Environmental Trust, NSW Saving our Species program, the National Landcare Program, the Office of Environment and Heritage, and Local Land Services.

In a submission to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into raising the dam wall, HCLG stated, the flooding and loss of existing conservation, wildlife habitat, river gums, et cetera, was its number one concern.

Further concerns for threatened and vulnerable species, included a reduction in the breeding window for aquatic species in the Lachlan River system and disruption to major bird breeding events.

Are you a landowner bordering the Wyangala Dam? Send us your thoughts on raising the dam wall by 10 metres.

This story Conservation and ecosystems on the edge at Wyangala Dam first appeared on Goulburn Post.