News

Project is boost for bitterns

By Country News

A new project is seeking to boost Australasian bittern numbers, which have been falling across the region.

North Central Catchment Management Authority has received $2million under the National Landcare Program to fund its five-year Bring Back the Bittern project.

According to figures there are only about 2000 Australasian bitterns left in the world, and about 40 in the North Central CMA area according to a recent count.

North Central CMA project manager Amy Russell said a changed landscape, introduced predators and climate change had combined to impact the population.

‘‘With about 20 per cent of the world’s population in our catchment, and with a lot escaping the NSW drought, we know how important this region is to them, and we want to make it more so,’’ she said.

‘‘We have managed water for the environment at some of the internationally-recognised Kerang Wetlands, and in 2017 we counted at least 16 at one time at Lake Cullen. Those kinds of numbers are almost unheard of.

‘‘The aim of this project is to find suitable wetlands to create the environment they need to survive and thrive.’’

However, the CMA is not just looking at public places to create the right habitat for the birds.

‘‘There are about 1600 wetlands on the Loddon Plains, and more than half of them are on private property,’’ Ms Russell said.

‘‘Those who have a wetland on their property, no matter how small, are usually aware of it. It could be a small depression, or a place that stays too wet for too long.

‘‘This project could be a great chance to turn a small piece of private land into bittern-friendly habitat, and it’s an opportunity for the local community to be involved in a project that is bringing back one of our most cherished birds.’’

■For more information phone Amy Russell on 5448 7124 or email: amy.russell@nccma.vic.gov.au