Increasing Biodiversity

Media Release | 23 May 2019

World Biodiversity Day was recently celebrated and is in perfect timing with the recent discovery of evidence of increasing biodiversity at Winton Wetlands.

The team of staff and volunteers at Winton Wetlands and the Friends of Winton Wetlands have been working towards natural habitat renewal and recently, two major species, the Squirrel Glider and the Rakali, have been sighted at Winton Wetlands proving the continuing success of the team’s restoration efforts.

The Rakali (Australian water-rat) is an attractive and large aquatic mammal that resembles a small otter and they have just been discovered onsite at the Mokoan Ponds! This sighting is the first at the Wetlands for almost 40 years. It is thought that water-rat numbers have declined in many places in south eastern Australia, particularly since the mid-1990s, and our sighting is evidence of conditions improving for these species.

Similarly, Squirrel Gliders were discovered again at Winton Wetlands late last year, which is another first in 40 years. While the Squirrel Glider is widespread on the east coast of Australia, it is uncommon, and it is very exciting to have a population calling Winton Wetlands home!

In the woodlands, nest boxes are benefiting the population of Squirrel Gliders. ‘The discovery of Gliders points to the very strong value of corridors to allow species to recolonise the site and therefore increase the area’s biodiversity’, said Lance Lloyd, restoration scientist at Winton Wetlands.

‘Likewise, the improvement of habitats at the Mokoan Ponds in terms of aquatic vegetation, carp control and woody debris has meant Murray Cod can thrive’, said Lance.

Murray Cod, a native freshwater fish listed as vulnerable, have declined significantly in numbers across the Murray-Darling basin due to overfishing, river regulation, and habitat degradation. Despite the near absence of water, Murray Cod are present in our permanent water bodies and this shows the obvious importance of habitat improvements as a restoration process. Having rediscovered the species at the Wetlands in the past few years, we are proud to have evidence of prolific breeding and a healthy juvenile survival rate.

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