The habitat of the 580ha Benger Swamp Nature Reserve, which is used by a wide range of water birds, including the endangered Australasian Bittern, has greater vegetation density and diversity thanks to funding from the South West Catchments Council’s (SWCC) Strategic Groundworks Program.
The SWCC is working with the Leschenault Catchment Council (LCC) and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) to increase native vegetation density and diversity in the area.
LCC Project Officer Chris Howe said the project aimed to establish a vegetation link between Benger Swamp and Kemerton.
“This area was once used to grow potatoes,” DBCA Conservation Officer Chris Taylor said.
“It is now important habitat for a range of native animals including many waterbirds. Our goal was to enhance the available habitat by boosting plant species diversity and create an east west vegetation link through the swamp.”
“Linking in with previous rehabilitation sites, we sprayed and rotary-hoed approximately half a hectare of grassland and typha and this season we trialed a biodegradable weed matting which was laid to block weed return.”
Eleven native species including Paperbark Trees, (Melaleuca rhaphiophylla, Melaleuca viminea) Flooded gum trees (Eucalyptus rudis) and sedge grass were planted to provide roosting, feeding and nesting habitat for a variety of bird species.
The project also included funding from DBCA to control feral animals impacting the habitat.
“The LCC is very happy to support the work at Benger Swamp and enhance threatened species habitat,” Mr Howe said.
“In 2008, there were only a couple of vegetation species so increasing the diversity at this important wetland is very worthwhile.”
The Strategic Groundworks Program has provided funding over three years to 13 community Landcare groups within the South West Catchments Council region. These groups directly facilitate and engage the community in Landcare and sustainable agricultural activities on private and public land.
The funds go towards on-ground works to protect biodiversity, sites of ecological value and to support the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices.
In addition, the funds assist to build capacity within the Landcare groups to engage the community and increase knowledge and skills.
This program is supported by the South West Catchments Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.