Willows and non-native river grass Glyceria (Glyceria maxima or River Sweet Grass) have been removed with revegetation occurring along 11.8 km of the east and west branches of the Barwon River near Forrest, as Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) works in partnership with land managers to improve the river’s flow and health.

Around 30 people from Forrest and the surrounding region heard about the Barwon Flagship Waterway project lead by the CCMA in partnership with Barwon Water and the Upper Barwon Landcare Network in a forum at Forrest Hall in late March. The Flagship began in 2021, prioritising the upper Barwon due to the need to remove choke points from willows and Glyceria that cause flooding and prevent water from flowing to the lower reaches of the river.

Attendees also visited a site just north of Forrest to see a revegetated site and do a short hands-on citizen science ‘waterbug survey’ which the CCMA regularly hosts to monitor river health.

Participants including farmers, Landcare members and others who are interested in the river, heard about the fragile health of the river at present, the importance of environmental water, the need for 65 km of willow removal and revegetation, and how methods are being developed and adapted to achieve all this with flexibility to enable riverside farms to thrive.

The CCMA outlined the Waterway Management Plan, which guides the Flagship Waterway project over the next 30 years to achieve its 2050 vision. Barwon Water provided an update on their East Barwon willow removal and restoration project. This included drone footage showing the progress of 2022-23 and 2023-24 stages of willow removal along the East Barwon River under Barwon Water management, as well as information about the fish-friendly rock steps and other means being used to re-establish healthy river ecology.

Attendees asked many searching questions, both during the presentations and afterwards in one-on-one conversations with CCMA, Barwon Water and Upper Barwon Landcare Network staff over a BBQ lunch, provided by Gerangamete and Forrest Landcare members.

More information on the Barwon Flagship Waterway project, including how to get involved, is available at the CMA website: https://ccma.vic.gov.au/projects/barwon-flagship-waterway/.

Author: Mary Dracup (Gerangamete and Forrest Landcare) with support from Corangamite CMA and Barwon Water

Forrest hall What's going on with our river meeting

Images: Citizen science ‘waterbug survey’ and presentations at the Forrest hall- Mary Dracup