Two of Victorian’s favourite native animals are the focus of new actions and research announced today by the Andrews Labor Government.
Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville released the report, Reflections – Environmental Watering in Victoria 2014-15, at Healesville Sanctuary highlighting the importance of environmental water to the state’s platypus population.
Minister Neville also launched the first ever Great Victorian Koala count, inviting the community to take part in a citizen science project by recording sightings of our much-loved Koalas.
Reflections is published annually by Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) to outline environmental watering across 19 river and wetland systems statewide including the release of more than 645,000 megalitres of environmental water in 2014-15, timed to trigger fish breeding, boost vegetation, improve water quality and provide habitat for birds and animals.
One of the highlights of this year’s report is cutting-edge work by Victorian waterway managers to re-establish platypus populations hit by the Millennium drought.
In an Australian-first, Melbourne Water and platypus experts used acoustic telemetry to track platypus in the Tarago River before, during and after environmental watering. Platypus were tagged and their movements detected via listening posts on the river bank.
The study showed that platypus benefitted greatly from the environmental water releases, which: provided access to more habitat and increased food sources, like water bugs.
Minister Neville also announced the Great Victorian Koala Count to give Victorians the chance to increase our understanding of koalas and contribute to their management.
By registering and taking part in the count, the community can assist by recording where they DID as well as where they DIDN’T see koalas. The citizen science data captured from the Great Victorian Koala Count will be used to inform conservation, protection and management actions for our koalas and their habitats.
To take part in the count you need to register online at www.delwp.vic.gov.au/koala-count and download the Great Victorian Koala Count smartphone app to report your observations on the day.
The count will take place on Saturday 7 November 2015, so make sure you get your family and friends involved and plan a walk on that day so you records are counted. For more information on the count go to www.delwp.vic.gov.au/koala-count.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville
“Victoria’s environmental watering program is carefully planned, with local communities, to support the state’s rivers and wetlands and the wildlife that depends on them.”
“Melbourne Water’s Australian-first project will ensure that environmental water is delivered effectively to re-establish platypus in the Yarra and Tarago rivers.”
“We have large numbers of koalas in Victoria and this count will increase our knowledge of where they do and don’t live and help us to manage them effectively.”
“This is a great opportunity for Victorians young and old to explore our beautiful state and contribute to a great project about these special animals.”
Quotes attributable to Chair of the Victorian Environmental Water Holder Denis Flett
“This year’s report again demonstrates that Victoria’s environmental water is not only protecting hundreds of species of plants and animals, but is also supporting communities through improved liveability, recreational and tourism opportunities and protecting Country for Indigenous Australians.”
Quotes attributable to Melbourne Water General Manager Waterways and Land Gavan O’Neill
“Platypus are a good indicator of a healthy river. Tracking their numbers, health and locations helps guide how we manage the health of our rivers and creeks.”
“It’s exciting to be using this new technology to help understand and protect platypus populations around Melbourne. It really helps us demonstrate the value of environmental water.”