Tuesday, 9 August 2022

    Ecologists turn plantation into wetland

    It was 2016, Mark Bachmann was stumped, ABC News reports.

    He and his team of scientists were three years into transforming a huge tract of agricultural land into the wetland it once was, but had no idea how their small, regional, not-for-profit could negotiate the final step: to buy 1,000 acres of commercial blue gum plantation.

    That was when he spotted the platypus.

    “I drove out after a big flood to see how our two trial swamps were looking, I’d just taken a few steps off the road and saw a black thing moving up along the bank of a deep drain,” Mr Bachmann said.

    “I thought it might be a water rat, but then I got a look at the bill and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s a platypus!'” he said.

    That platypus appeared at the right time, providing Mr Bachmann with inspiration in the face of what seemed, at that point, nearly impossible.

    It’s not easy for a small, science-based environmental organisation like Nature Glenelg Trust to buy a 1,035-acre blue-gum plantation, strip it of trees, allow it to flood, and transform it back into wetlands.

    “We’re rural people, practical people, we work with farmers a lot, science underpins what we do,” Mr Bachmann said.

    “There are no layers of bureaucracy; we are a very lean operation, but we get a lot done.”


    Ecologists buy 1,000-acre blue gum plantation and transform it into wetland it once was (ABC News)


    The abrupt form of Victoria’s Mount Sturgeon looms behind the new swamps. (Supplied: Nature Glenelg Trust)