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Let’s hear it for the river red gum!

River Red Gum trees across Winton Wetlands are celebrating the recent crowning of the River Red Gum – or Eucalyptus Camaldulensis – as “Australia’s favourite tree”.

According to viewers of the ABC television series of the same name, the river red gum is the tree that has the most special place in the affections of Australians.

And who are we to argue? There are thousands of river red gums to be found across the Winton Wetlands reserve, along with many thousands of red gum ‘stags’ – remnants of dead trees – left over from the days when the wetlands area had been artificially flooded for irrigation purposes to form Lake Mokoan.

Each year we are planting lots of new river red gums in an effort to restore this cultural and ecological icon. The most recent volunteer tree planting days held at Winton Wetlands, in July and August 2022, resulted in more than 400 river red gum seedlings being planted, along with 1200 other trees.

Students from Marian College Myrtleford, Numurkah Secondary College and Sacred Heart College Yarrawonga, put in a mighty effort during two school days held on-site, with members of the general public volunteering on two other days.

An unusual aspect of the most recent tree planting drive is that it was funded by Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority as part of a new scheme under which convicted polluters have to pay for environmental restoration work.

Benalla Magistrate’s Court ordered a particle board manufacturer, D Monsbent Pty Ltd, trading as D & R Henderson, to pay for revegetation work being done at Winton Wetlands instead of paying a fine of $80,000 to the court.

Winton Wetlands Committee of Management worked with the EPA and others including Merriwa Industries, Park Lane Nursery, Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority, the Regent Honey Eater Project and Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation, to come up with a suitable project. The work is in line is in line with the Victorian Government’s Biodiversity 2037 Plan for Protecting the Victorian Environment.

Merriwa Industries, a local packaging firm and social enterprise, is working to plant a further 4000 trees and shrubs across the wetlands reserve during 2022.

Other items flowing from the EPA funding package include additional seeding by members of the Regent Honey Eater Project, further 50ha of aerial seeding planned for summer 2022/23, and development of an indigenous planting guide that will be made available to the general public.

So, lots more river red gums coming along in the months and years ahead!