Page 200 - VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2020-21
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 5.2 Victorian Murray system
Environmental values
The Barmah-Millewa Forest is the largest river red gum forest in Australia and the most intact freshwater floodplain system along the Murray River. The forest supports important floodplain vegetation communities including the threatened Moira grass plains and is a significant feeding and breeding site for waterbirds including bitterns, ibis, egrets, spoonbills and night herons. Significant populations of native fish, frogs and turtles also live in the forest’s waterways. Barmah Forest is known to support 74 plant and animal species protected under state and national legislation.
Environmental watering objectives in the Barmah Forest
Traditional Owner cultural values and uses
“We are the First People of this place. We were here even before the Murray River flowed through Barmah.” — Uncle Des Morgan, Yorta Yorta Elder (Joint Management Plan for Barmah National Park, 2020).
Yorta Yorta are joint managers of Barmah National Park under a Traditional Owner Land Management Agreement with the State of Victoria. Goulburn Broken CMA worked with Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation during the environmental water planning process to source their feedback about planned watering actions. Yorta Yorta Traditional Owners have been involved in the development of longer-term management plans that have informed these watering actions.
Examples of Yorta Yorta cultural values and uses in Barmah Forest that are supported through environmental flow delivery include:
• maintaining drought refuges, which protects turtles that are an important totemic species for the Yorta Yorta community
• watering to support floodplain marsh vegetation, which includes important food and medicinal plants such as sneezeweed and basket sedge
Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation contribute to Barmah Forest environmental watering planning, monitoring and management through employment as part of the Living Murray Program Indigenous Partnerships Program. This contribution is acknowledged in Table 5.2.1 with an icon.
Social, recreational and economic values and uses
In planning the potential watering actions in Table 5.2.1, Goulburn Broken CMA considered how environmental flows could support values and uses including:
• water-based recreation (such as fishing)
• riverside recreation and amenity (such as camping and birdwatching)
• community events and tourism (such as providing access for boat tours)
• socio-economic benefits (such as apiarists and irrigation diverters).
   Enable carbon and nutrient cycling between the floodplain and river through connectivity
    Maintain or increase habitat for native fish and increase their population
     Maintain or increase habitat available for frogs
   Maintain or increase habitat available for turtles including the broad-shelled turtle
   Enhance the health of river red gum communities and aquatic vegetation in the wetlands and watercourses and on the floodplain
Promote the growth of floodplain marsh vegetation communities, with a particular focus on increasing the extent of Moira grass
    Provide feeding and nesting habitat for the successful recruitment of colonial nesting waterbirds
    Provide early-season flushing of the lower floodplain to reduce the risk of low-oxygen events in summer
    Watering planned and/or delivered in partnership with Traditional Owners to support Aboriginal cultural values and uses
      198 | Victorian Environmental Water Holder | Seasonal Watering Plan 2020–21

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