Project ensures ponds will be protected

This Stockdale land is being protected for its environmental value.

WEST Gippsland Catchment Management Authority will continue to work with Trust for Nature on the ‘Protecting Our Ponds’ project around Stockdale.
Trust for Nature has recently bought a 50-hectare property at Stockdale through its Revolving Fund program. This program buys properties which have significant conservation value and on-sells them to buyers who agree to place a legally binding conservation covenant on them, protecting them for life.
This property features several ponds which, in partnership with the WGCMA and other bodies, will be rehabilitated in coming years.
The Chain of Ponds within the Perry River and Providence Ponds catchment is a unique waterway system, with ponds and surrounding habitats providing environments for threatened plant and animal species such as Dwarf galaxias, Flinders pygmy perch, Green and Golden bell frogs, the Gaping leek-orchid and Prostrate cone-bush.
WGCMA has been working with Trust for Nature, Hancock Victorian Plantations and private landholders since 2016 to protect and rehabilitate the ponds landscape.
WGCMA chief executive Martin Fuller said the project was a special initiative, and that he is delighted to be able to continue working with partners such as Trust for Nature to improve the site, through funding from the state government’s Our Catchments, Our Communities Program.
“The ponds really are unique, so to be able to work with Trust for Nature as well as the many private landholders involved is exactly the way we like to work – partnerships breed success is what we have practised over many years, and we’re excited to continue this partnership with the Trust for Nature team,” Mr Fuller said.
Trust for Nature regional manager John Hick said the newly-acquired property brought fresh opportunities.
“This property is on the Providence Ponds waterway, only a short distance from its confluence with the Perry River. It’s a 50-odd hectare farm with a history of grazing up until the trust acquired the property,” he said.
“One of the things that excites me about the ponds generally is how different they all are. The vegetation, the shapes of the ponds, they are all quite different.
“We have this idea that the ponds, sometimes, in some landscapes, are simple little dams, but here they’re convoluted shapes, some have fallen trees in them and fallen logs, some are covered with Azolla, one of the native ferns that grows on top of water bodies. A very pretty landscape.”
The new site sits adjacent to other properties where ponds have been protected and rehabilitated, meaning any works carried out will provide valuable connectivity through this section of the catchment.
Mr Hick said having acquired the property and taken stock off the site, vegetation was recovering and a more detailed management plan would be developed to guide on-ground works that would maximise the improvement, working with WGCMA and engaging other groups to help where needed.
“We’ve already started a weed management plan,” he said.
“Some areas will be fenced while other areas will have redundant fencing removed as it’s a barrier to wildlife. So, there are lots of things to work on before the property is sold to a private landholder with a covenant in place to ensure works are continued to manage and improve the site.”
For more information about the Protecting Our Ponds project, including videos of the sites, visit wgcma.vic.gov.au/ponds.