Environment Victoria today called on Melbourne, Bendigo and Ballarat to play a part in restoring Victoria’s mighty river red gum forests.
“Melbourne, Bendigo and Ballarat could have a big role to play in saving Victoria’s red gum forests. If those cities take water from the Goulburn they have an obligation to make sure the river is healthy,” said Dr Paul Sinclair Healthy Rivers Campaign Director.
The call is in response to the launch today of the historic Victorian Environment Assessment Council’s (VEAC) River Red Gum Investigation of northern Victoria. The investigation recommends that 4000 gigalitres be provided 1 in every 5 years to restore the floodplains that sustain River Red Gum in northern Victoria. Approximately 75% of riverine trees are dangerously stressed according to the VEAC investigation.
The Victorian Government is connecting Bendigo, Ballarat and Melbourne’s water supplies to the Goulburn River by pipelines. The Goulburn River is the state’s major tributary of the Murray River – and vital to the health of river red gum forests.
“Melbourne, Bendigo and Ballarat can contribute to making these wetland forests healthy by buying water entitlements and donating them to the Goulburn and Murray River,” said Dr Sinclair.
“Red gum wetland forests are a huge asset for all Victorians. Victoria shares the biggest red gum forests found anywhere on Earth. Unless we give back water to the river and its floodplains we are in danger of losing 80 000 hectares of wetland forests. We know the smart use of environmental water entitlements restores wetlands, improves water quality, breeds native fish and birds and gives us great places to take our families,” he said.
EV welcomed VEAC’s proposal that an environmental flow strategy be developed across the Murray and its Victorian tributaries.
“The Victorian Government will start its Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy soon. That strategy has to reduce irrigation water use that accounts for 77% of the state water consumption, and should include Bendigo and Melbourne.”
“VEAC have made it clear it is really the last roll of the dice for our wetland forests. If we don’t deliver environmental water to our Murray tributaries we’ll pass on a shameful legacy to future Victorians,” said Dr Sinclair.
Environment Victoria response to: Our Water Our Future: the next stage of the Government’s Water Plan, released 19 June 2007 Click here to download
Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC)’s River Red Gum Forests Investigation Draft Proposals Paper, released 19 July 2007 Click here for details