Hunter habitat restoration awarded

THE dedication and hard work of NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) staff to restore tidal connectivity to the Tomago Wetlands on the Hunter River has been recognised with a National Trust Heritage Award.

DPI’s Fisheries NSW Conservation Action Unit managed a number of key activities over several years as part of a collaborative project with the Office of Environment and Heritage and other agencies.

DPI senior conservation manager Kylie Russell said she was thrilled to be part of the team which picked up a prestigious Conservation Natural Heritage Award.

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“The restoration of the area to a fully-functioning tidal wetland has attracted world-wide attention and the research and learning gained from this project is being used in many other projects,” Ms Russell said.

“For more than 40 years, there was almost 600 hectares on the northern bank of the Hunter River, isolated from the estuary behind floodgates and levees.

“Without tidal connectivity, the area experienced acid sulphate soil problems, extremely poor water quality and a loss of aquatic habitat in the area, which is part of the Hunter Wetlands National Park.

“Over the last couple of years tidal connectivity has been restored which has made a huge difference and helped reclaim saltmarsh habitat for fish, crustaceans and bird life.

“We had no waterbirds at all in some areas, now we have thousands of birds reported in recent years.”

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Funding was provided by the Recreational Fishing Trust, the Federal Government’s ‘Caring for our Country’ program, Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and the Office of Environment and Heritage’s Parks and Wildlife Division. Researchers from University of NSW’s Water Research Laboratory were also involved.

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