Two of Victoria’s leading environment groups today released ‘The Thirsty 13’ – a guide showcasing thirteen plants and animals at serious risk if Victoria’s new River Red Gum national parks are not allocated enough water.
“The Thirsty 13 species have been literally dying for a drink for years. Without immediate action, the next Victorian government will condemn the Thirsty 13, and many others, to a grim future”, said Victorian National Parks Association spokesman Nick Roberts.
Thirteen flood-dependant species listed as rare, threatened or endangered – including graceful waterbird the Plumed Egret and the iconic, endangered Murray Cod – have been selected to highlight and remind Victorians what will be at risk if action is not taken to secure the water that they need.
“The next state government cannot rely on sporadic rainfall ‘acts of nature’, or on the federal government, to rescue the River Red Gum parks; what’s needed is cooperation and leadership to deliver a secure and reliable environmental water entitlement to keep the parks healthy”, he said.
“The River Red Gum parks are a significant Brumby government legacy, but there’s unfinished business: these parks will struggle to survive without a guaranteed fair share of water.”
“The Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) Plan is once-in-a lifetime opportunity to improve the management of our rivers. The Victorian government needs to be on the front foot for the environment, and work to make sure that water purchased through voluntary buy-backs actually reaches the places that need it most, like our River Red Gum parks”, said Environment Victoria Healthy Rivers campaigner Amelia Young.
The Guide to the Murray Darling Basin Plan, released last Friday, estimates that the rivers need up to 7,600 billion litres per year, with at least 4,000 billion litres per year required to maintain 75 percent of our remaining red gum forests in good condition, and support the many plant and animal species, like the Thirsty 13, that rely on them.
“We can’t risk there being a tug-of-war between two of Australia’s most iconic riverine environments – the Coorong and the River Red Gum forests. The MDB Plan must ensure both these sites are able to flourish,” said Ms Young.
“The bar cannot be set any lower than 4,000 billion litres of water per year for the environment, as any less will not guarantee the future health of our River Red Gum parks”, she concluded.
The groups have launched a community outreach campaign about securing water for the River Red Gum parks, and are hosting a ‘Water for Parks’ Forum in Bendigo at 6pm on 28 October at the Latrobe University Visual Arts Centre, 121 View St, Bendigo.
For interviews contact:
Amelia Young, Environment Victorias Water and Healthy Rivers Campaigner on 0457 413 986
Nick Roberts, VNPA Red Gum and River Rescue Project Coordinator 0429 945 429
Louise Matthiesson 0417 017 844