Back on solid ground – Ramsar restoration at Pitt Water Orielton Lagoon

An example of tunnel erosion between Mienna park and the PWOL foreshore.

It’s a well-known fact that water will always find a way. In the case of Pitt Water-Orielton Lagoon, it was finding its way from multiple sources in the township of Sorell across to Miena Park, where it was causing extensive erosion issues.

It was in 2015 that Paul Gray, NRM Facilitator for the Sorell Council region, noticed an unusual tunnel formation at Miena Park – adjacent to the lagoon’s boundaries. This was the direct result of large volumes of stormwater concentrating at the site, with knock-on effects to habitat quality in the neighbouring Pitt Water-Orielton Lagoon (PWOL) – a Ramsar-listed wetland area that is home to many vulnerable species including live-bearing sea-star, lemon beauty-head daisy, sea lavender, Caspian Tern, Sooty Oyster catchers and Latham’s Snipe

Restoring this landscape involved a series of steps. Paul instigated the construction of diversion work – including installing a new outfall, using gabion walls to slow the flow of water off a steep section and repairing eroded sections of land. Using excess soil from other works projects, mulch from tree removal projects, old hay bales from stables and ash from burnoffs, Paul filled in eroded sections by layering soil, mulch and ash. Once it had been left to stabilise over several months, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Green Army team members and volunteers from the Pittwater Orielton Landcare Group finished off the works by planting 4000 trees, shrubs and groundcover plants.

While the project has been a great success, it wasn’t without its challenges. Initial soil conditions weren’t favourable for plant growth, and a range of land uses within the broader region has meant that Paul has had to create a landscape plan for the entire area to ensure successful management. Future plans for Miena Park will be to transform it into a native garden, with additional weed control and revegetation work to be done on adjoining sections. Using controlled burns – and incorporating cultural burning training into this plan – is also part of a longer-term land management strategy for the area. Sorell Council has provided the majority of funding for this project, with some financial support from NRM South (via the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program) for revegetation works.

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