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On Ground Works to support regional bird refugia

Project objective

Recognising the need to avoid a permanent loss of ecological values, the Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin (HCHB) On Ground Works (OGW) project will implement on-ground works to improve the availability and quality of waterbird habitat and support regional bird refugia at priority wetland sites.

These actions seek to contribute to the protection of endangered and vulnerable species, avoid further loss, and help to maintain the Coorong’s unique ecological character.

Why regional bird refugia is important

The Coorong is a critical wetland for waterbirds and regularly provides important breeding, feeding and refuge habitats for more than 100,000 birds each summer.

Waterbirds move within and between networks of wetlands in their search for food and habitat as the condition of individual wetlands varies across seasons, largely in response to water availability.

Recent years have seen sustained changes in the Coorong including declines in the reproductive success and resilience of aquatic plants, changes to the Coorong food-web, and declines in the abundance and distribution of some waterbird species.

Declines in the diversity and abundance of waterbirds (including threatened and migratory species) in the Coorong have been linked to declines in the quality and availability of waterbird foraging habitat. Shorebird species that have experienced significant declines in the Coorong are also affected by the cumulative impacts of habitat degradation at multiple scales (including internationally for migratory species), which decreases their overall population resilience.

Key waterbird species include:

  • Common Greenshank
  • Curlew Sandpiper
  • Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
  • Red-necked Stint
  • Banded stilt
  • Red-capped Plover
  • Red-necked avocet
On Ground Works to support regional bird refugia
Banded Stilts at the Coorong (credit: Tom Hunt)

What is happening

Opportunities to improve habitat at wetland sites in the Lower Lakes and the South East were investigated and assessed in 2019 for their ability to provide refuge sites for waterbirds, and to support waterbird populations of the southern Coorong region.

Following this, the HCHB team has worked with community, First Nations and stakeholders to identify and develop concept designs for on-ground works projects that support regional bird refugia. On-ground works projects are now progressing at the following regional wetland sites:

  • Teringie Wetlands - construction commencing 2024
  • Tolderol Game Reserve - construction commencing 2024
  • Lake Hawdon North - feasibility stage

Please note that planning for on-ground works at Waltowa Swamp is currently on hold.

Project updates

Further information will be provided closer to construction commencement.

To stay up to date on the OGW project and the HCHB program, please subscribe to the Community Update.

Further information

The OGW project is complementary to works conducted under the Coorong Infrastructure Investigations Project, to assess the feasibility of multiple long-term operational infrastructure options, to improve the ecological health of the Coorong. Read more about the Coorong Infrastructure Investigations Project here.

Read more about our related priorities

Murray darling basin
Basin Plan
Water security
River murray irrigators
Water allocation