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Winding up the willows in the west

Image of a creek hidden by lots of willow trees
6 Feb 2024

Work will begin this month to remove the final willow infestation on Birch’s Creek in the west of our catchment.

The North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) has been working with the local community and landholders, Djandak, Central Highlands Water, and Goulburn Murray Water to create a healthy, continuous riparian corridor along Birch’s and Tullaroop creeks for the past three years.

Removal of the last stretch of invasive weeds on Birch’s Creek will kick off in February, and by June, landholders will have a willow-free system.

North Central CMA Project Manager Tess Grieves said the works would run along the creek from Newlyn and link up with previous restoration work at Anderson’s Mill near Smeaton.

“We’ll focus on removing the willows, as well as gorse and blackberry, all identified by the Federal Government as Weeds of National Significance,” she said.

“Crack willows are our main target. They have a largely negative impact on waterways, leave no room for natural habitat for platypus and native fish, and can increase flood risks to communities and farmers.

“This work is part of the Tullaroop Catchment Restoration Project, which aims to create a healthy, continuous riparian corridor along both waterways.”

Ms Grieves said the catchment was important environmentally, socially, culturally, and economically to Central Victorian communities, with significant sites of importance to the Djaara people.

“The catchment’s waterways face increased pressure from agricultural intensification, lifestyle development, and recreational access to Tullaroop Reservoir,” she said.

“Uncontrolled stock access and widespread loss of native vegetation along waterways reduces water quality and contributes to a significant decline in their health,

“Climate change, through reduced rainfall and higher temperatures, is predicted to have a major impact on water yield and river flows, which will exacerbate existing threats to water quality and waterway health.”

The planned works include stem injection or herbicide and tree removal. Standing willows will be piled up and burnt or chipped onsite. Tree roots will remain to avoid bank erosion while revegetation takes hold. 

This project is part of the Victorian Government’s $248 million investment over four years (2020-2024) to improve catchment and waterway health across regional Victoria.