Australia is home to the two largest River Red Gum forests in the world. They lie either side of the Murray River, with the Barmah forest on the Victorian side and the Millewa forests on the New South Wales side.
In early July 2010, new Victorian River Red Gum national and regional parks were declared along the Murray, Goulburn and Ovens Rivers. They protect the Nyah Vinifera forest, parts of the Goulburn floodplains, forest wetlands along reaches of the Ovens and Barmah itself.
Over the other side of the river, the New South Wales government has announced new River Red Gum national parks too, protecting the largest red gum forest in Australia in an amazing cross-border 70,000 ha Barmah-Millewa National Park, co-operatively managed with Traditional Owners the Yorta Yorta, Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wamba.
These are the largest remaining red gum forests on Earth. With 75 percent of Red Gum trees stressed, dead or dying, these Australian icons need urgent watering. Securing environmental water for the River Red Gum parks is critical for the future of the ecosystem, the unique species and the ongoing economic opportunities these new parks offer to the local regional economy.
Rescuing Victoria’s northern rivers and the mighty Murray itself is fundamentally linked to the health of the River Red Gum forest wetlands.
Floodplains are the larders of river systems. The Red Gum forests act as filters for the river, attracting and filtering water, and shifting and sieving nutrients throughout the floodplain landscape.
The health of the Murray River and its River Red Gum Forests are intrinsically linked – river channels and floodplains are part of the system. A healthy river needs healthy forests.
Because they are so important, these unique forest wetlands have recently been made into a series of National and regional parks.
In Victoria, after lengthy scientific investigation and community consultation, the Brumby state government declared these new National and regional parks in July 2010, to be jointly managed with the Yorta Yorta Traditional Owners.