Proposed Koolunga wetlands will attract species

It’s rare seeing bigger environmental projects funded in our part of Knox. This makes a new wetland in Koolunga Native Reserve exciting for a number of reasons. Proposed and co-funded by Knox Council and Melbourne Water, a key aim is to filter stormwater runoff before joins Knox’s creek systems. The wetland will also provide a new high-quality asset that the community can enjoy.

Valuable environmental benefits from locating a wetland in Koolunga Native Reserve, include: 

  • attracting new bird species like Dusky Moorhens, Eurasian Coots, and Chestnut Teals
  • encouraging more aquatic animals like Short Finned Eels, yabbies and Brown Tree Frogs
  • supporting insects like Australian Emerald dragonflies and Blue Skimmer, and Fishing Spiders 
  • slowing the speed water rushes through the system. More consistent flows into the existing creek will reduce how often it dries in summer or becomes stagnant
  • filtering harmful nutrients (eg. nitrogen and phosphorous), pollution and sediment that washes from roads and storm water before they can flow into the creek system and impact native animals and vegetation
  • capturing larger rubbish so it doesn’t end up in the ocean
  • providing a new type of habitat that doesn’t currently exist in Koolunga.

Stormwater and run-off captured around Koolunga has a long journey to the sea, flowing down to Blind Creek, Dandenong Creek, Mordialloc Creek, Patterson River and into Port Phillip Bay!

Location and design are important

The existing creek can’t be converted to a wetland as it would destroy vegetation that is rare and threatened in Knox and Victoria. It would also shrink remaining habitat that a long list of wildlife already use, like echidnas and endangered powerful owls.

The proposal arose from Melbourne Water’s long term plans and Council’s strategy to improve the water quality in Knox’s creek systems. This links to the original Koolunga Management Plan from 1994 which was developed with considerable community input and agreement. That plan showed great foresight by listing the Native Reserve’s future role in reducing harmful nutrients flowing downstream through Knox’s creeks, as well as strengthening native vegetation for both wildlife and people to enjoy. 

Wetland designs are informed by studies from the CSIRO and Melbourne Water’s experience. Importantly this includes providing fences and natural barriers from deeper water, minimising mosquitos, and being visually appealing. You can see great wetland examples in Wantirna at the Mint Street wetland and Yarrabing wetland. They show how a well-considered and scientific design can result in assets loved by the community as well as supporting positive environmental outcomes.

A great number in the community are looking forward to a wetland in Koolunga. Common feedback we received includes wanting a peaceful place with water to sit next to, being able to teach their children more about nature with real examples, and having a new space the family visit and enjoy. The value of connecting to nature in local reserves has been really highlighted by covid and lockdowns.

Koolunga is instantly recognised by its four grassy paddocks used passively for recreation and the 85 pine trees planted as a wind break in the 1930s. The Radiata Pine is now a declared pest species but these old trees remain as a reflection of past activity. Unfortunately they have a short average lifespan of 80 – 90 years, meaning they’re coming to the end of their lives. Rate payers will be interested to know the cost to remove large trees increases dramatically after they have died. So while there’s no immediate plans for their removal, community should consider what the future will look like. Rows of grand eucalyptus trees lasting centuries and providing shade in summer and higher-quality wildlife habitat?

The Friends of Koolunga Native Reserve are locals aiming to make a difference. Our vision is a strong and healthy environment, providing essential habitat for a larger connected landscape. We’re hands-on with the environment but also have a strong connection with local community. This includes sharing our experience with residents, running spotlight nights for local youth groups, running dog shows, helping the neighbourhood find lost pets, and much more.

For more information, facts about the wetland and environmental outcomes, visit our Facebook page and search ‘wetland’. 

Rowan Jennion
Friends of Koolunga Reserve

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