The Australian Botanic Gardens Shepparton is facing the issue of what to do with borrow pits that are the by-products of the clay capping of the former Kialla landfill site.
The ABGS committee would like to see the borrow pits (huge clay depressions), which now form part of the botanic gardens, turned into a sustainably created wetland feature as the next major development of the gardens.
This was the topic of discussion at a training workshop held at the botanical gardens last month, which was run by Spiire landscape architect Alexandra Lee.
Attended by representatives of the ABGS, The Friends of the ABGS, Shepparton & Mooroopna Urban Landcare Group, Goulburn Murray Landcare, Greater Shepparton City Council and Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority, the training was designed to provide members of the interested parties with knowledge and skills to assist them in the design and development of the site.
The pits have held varying levels of water since they were formed and Ms Lee said the low-lying areas of ground could be used to great affect.
‘‘We are looking at enhancing the low-lying ground with water in it for aquatic plants and animals,’’ she said.
By developing a new wetlands area at the gardens, Ms Lee believes it will provide Shepparton with a wonderful natural area for community recreation and education.
‘‘They (ABGS committee) recognise to achieve this, they require a greater understanding of the unique features of the borrow pits and the ecology required to develop a sustainable environment together with the implications of the river system being taken into consideration.’’
Many topics were covered at the training day, including: water depths and planting zones, controlling water levels for permanent and ephemeral wetland plant species and understanding the site’s water regime and future capacity.
‘‘The workshop provided an insight into the factors to be taken into account when developing and designing the site,’’ Shepparton & Mooroopna Urban Landcare Group representative Wendy D’Amore said.
‘‘It is exciting to be involved in the first step of the design and ideas process and I look forward to the next session.’’
Natural revegetation has already taken place, with many new saplings appearing along the edges of the pits.
More than 100 species of birds have been recorded on the site, many of them waterbirds, and a turtle survey will be conducted in coming months.
The day was made possible by funding through the Enhancing Shepparton Urban Landscape Through Community Involvement program funded by The Myer Foundation in conjunction with the ABGS.
A further training workshop will be held mid-year, this time with wetland ecologist Damian Cook from Rakali Consulting, and will have a focus on wetland plant communities and site water management.