Enhancing habitat at Tootgarook Wetland



Tootgarook Wetland is undergoing a makeover with works enhancing aquatic habitat and improvements to species richness and abundance now underway.

The project is a collaboration between South East Water, Melbourne Water and Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, providing improved habitat for numerous bird species, including the significant Southern Emu Wren, Australasian Bittern and Latham's Snipe.

The works will also help protect three rare/threatened native plant species which are found in the wetland, including the Large River Buttercup (ranunculus papulentus), Narrowleaf Water Parsnip (berula erecta) and Leafy Twig-sedge (cladium procerum).

Over the three to five-year project, Melbourne Water is providing labour and supplying plants to enable revegetation and weed control on land owned by South East Water and Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.

In addition to releasing land for the project, South East Water will also provide funding, and manage ongoing weed control once the project has completed.

Project works include woody weed removal, such as mirror bush and sweet pittosporum within the council bushland zone. Special care and attention is being given to the protection of remnant high quality vegetation and significant fauna such as the swamp skink.

Works are focusing on identifying, protecting and encouraging regeneration of the existing remnant patches of native vegetation. This will create a habitat that will encourage wetland fauna back to the site. Old agricultural drains are being removed and where native vegetation condition is poor, desilting will be undertaken to shift the hydrology of the wetlands back to a more natural regime.

The project aims to establish three separate Ecological Vegetation Class (EVC) areas within the wetland and includes consultation with the Bunurong Land Council, traditional owners of the land, about the site’s ongoing use as a place of cultural significance. Engagement is also continuing with other groups, including the Friends of Tootgarook wetlands, to learn more about the indigenous and environmental background of the area.

“We’re pleased to help return this significant area back to its original state, and to enable the Aboriginal community to reconnect with what is a unique landscape,” said Scott Collins, Environment and Engagement Manager at South East Water.

“The project provides a template for how water authorities, councils, and traditional owners can work together to improve environmental and community outcomes.”