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Working together to improve wetland health

Pelicans and ducks on a wetland surrounded by reeds and long grass
4 May 2022

Three Victorian Government agencies are working together to rehabilitate a key wetland between Kerang and Cohuna.

Johnson’s Swamp is part of the Kerang Lakes complex and is recognised as a key habitat for waterbirds under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.

The devastating floods of 2010-11 brought with them some unwanted visitors to Johnson’s, and they’re threatening to take over the wetland.

“Lignum and tall marshy reeds are encroaching significantly on the wetland, so it’s time to take action,” North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) Environmental Water Reserve Officer Peter O’Toole said.

“The vegetation is limiting the amount of open water and out-competing other aquatic plants that contribute to overall biodiversity and wetland health.

“Ensuring there is space and resources for waterbirds to feed and breed is a key part of the management of the wetland.

“And the community, including local Traditional Owners, want to see more open space on the wetland, for birds such as brolgas, pelicans, black swans, and dabbling ducks.”

North Central CMA, Parks Victoria, and the Arthur Rylah Institute have been working on a plan to fix the problem, with works scheduled for May.

“The first step will be slashing and poisoning about 20 hectares of the lignum and reeds. Then we will start to deliver about 1500 megalitres of water for the environment,” Mr O’Toole said.

“The partial fill will drown the lignum and reeds and will prime the wetland for a full fill in spring. That will allow other types of aquatic vegetation such as eel grass and milfoil to grow, creating the right conditions for the waterbirds that are so important to this community.

“The flow will also help the frogs and turtles over winter and spring.”

The North Central CMA manages environmental flows on behalf of the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH). The flows are authorised by VEWH in line with its Seasonal Watering Plan 2021-22. 

The Plan is available for download from, with regular watering updates posted on the North Central CMA website.