Connector Newsletter Issue 39

Healing Water Country- Port Phillip & Western Port Biosphere Reserve

October 8, 2023

By Glenn Brooks-MacMillan – Program Manager

In recent years the Foundation has been busy implementing a range of Water Steward Plans across the Reserve. These plans essentially are actions for landowners to protect, enhance and regenerate our waterways. The stewardship approach builds the capacity of the landowner to better understand the risks associated with water management on and around their property.

While saving water is one initiative, the basic principle is about improving the water quality and quantity to best suit the enterprise’s objectives. This process is achieved through close interaction with the landowner and sharing the risks and associated opportunities. The landowner eventually develops a plan and commits to the implementation over an agreed period.

What do I normally see as the outcomes?

A combination of returning the land to its original condition many hundreds of years ago, while integrating the production benefits the land has to offer. To do this an understanding of the history of the catchment and how the property fits within a whole system begins the vision which assists in the re-aligning, re-establishing, and re-generating waterways to way they used to be.

In many cases the outcomes are achievable, practical, and cost effective, but more importantly integrating natural systems into the production of the property.

In almost all cases our waterways have changed where vegetation has been removed, invasive plants and animals introduced, and pollutants and contaminants are present. Assessing the property from a water perspective has enabled several landowners to become more aware of the risks and develop plans to help improve the waterway.

In early 2020, the Foundation began discussions with Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and DEWLP, to brainstorm the idea of improving the water way adjacent to the site that Willum Warrain operate from.

Thanks to the input from Uncle Peter Aldenhoven, CEO Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association, the concept quickly adopted the name ‘Healing Water Country’. Peter has been passionate about the approach and has demonstrated through practical solutions ways in which redesigning and rethinking how water originally moved throughout the catchment results in a more sustainable outcome.

We are delighted to announce that thanks to Peter’s passion and hard work, we have connected his wisdom and knowledge to an area in Boneo to build on the Healing Water Country approach by integrating First Nations principals into the design of improved water ways. This exciting project will build on existing works to improve a section of the Tootgarook Wetlands through the implementation of a ‘Healing Water Country – Revillaging Project’.

Thanks to the support of the Port Phillip Bay Fund, the aim of the project is to work with a range of First Nations people and the landowner and neighbours to implement an improved waterway.

This sort of catchment works, and design is an example of what the Foundation is working on with a range of landowners and managers across Western Port, as part of the Blue Carbon Planning Project that is developing management plans to help protect, enhance, and revegetate Saltmarsh, Mangroves, and seagrasses.

If you are interested in knowing more or wanting to participate, then please contact us and we can discuss further some of the options available.

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