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Gunbower Forest

Watering events 2014–15

Between June and November 2014, 66 GL of environmental water was delivered to Gunbower Forest, inundating around 3800 ha, improving the ecological health of this icon site.

The watering connected Gunbower Creek, Gunbower Forest and the River Murray, supporting fish passage through the forest. It filled wetlands and inundated river red gum and black box communities, native fish bred, and tens of thousands of Australian smelt and gudgeons returned from the floodplain to Gunbower creek. There were also ecological benefits for wetland vegetation and for the forest.

Water enters Gunbower forest at Hipwell road regulator
Water enters Gunbower forest at Hipwell road regulator. Photo Alastair McHarg
Environmental water flowing through Gunbower forest
Environmental water flowing through Gunbower forest. (Photo: Alastair McHarg, MDBA)
Gunbower Forest in flood, September 2010
Gunbower Forest in flood, September 2010 (Photo: David Kleinert)

The watering event also successfully tested the recently completed water management structures, including regulators, channels, fishways and levees.

Ecological objectives

There are five high-level ecological objectives for the Gunbower Forest:

  • increase area of healthy permanent and semi-permanent wetlands
  • ensure maintenance of healthy river red gum communities,
  • maintain black box and grey box communities
  • provide suitable feeding, breeding and refuge habitat for waterbirds, including colonial nesting species
  • maintain healthy populations of native fish in wetlands and increase opportunities for riverine fish to access floodplain resources
  • increase the diversity and abundance of native frog species within the forest.

About Gunbower forest

Gunbower Forest is part of the Gunbower-Koondrook-Perricoota Forest Icon Site that together comprises Australia's second largest river red gum forest.

Gunbower Forest contains diverse and rare wetland habitats that support endangered flora and fauna, including internationally recognised migratory waterbirds. It is a site of high cultural and social value that provides many recreational opportunities.

Construction of The Living Murray (TLM) environmental works at Gunbower Forest were completed in 2014. The works allow water to be directed from Gunbower Creek, part of the Torrumbarry Irrigation system, into the forest. The works aim to allow a more natural flooding regime for river red gums in the mid-section of the forest by diverting water from Gunbower Creek. Under full operation, the works will allow wide-scale watering of up to 4,800 ha of forest.

Past watering events

Water Year

Volume (GL)

Outcomes

2013–14

0.4 GL

Commissioning (testing) of Hipwell Rd regulator.

2012–13

 

No environmental water delivered, but some natural flooding occurred.

2011–12

24.2 GL

Bird breeding, fish habitat and passage.

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12 March 2015

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