Water for life - protecting River Red Gums


River Red Gum forests in Victoria include the largest Red Gum forest anywhere in the world, the Barmah Forest, near Echuca. These forests have evolved for hundreds of thousands of years with regular flooding. River Red Gum forests in Victoria and right across the Murray River are under a lot of threat.

Logging of old Red Gum trees reduces the amount of hollows available for threatened species, and cattle grazing eats plants before they have a time to grow into plants which can be available for other animals to eat. And also for the Aboriginal people that used to traditionally hunt, fish and collect plants within the forests, this has a major impact on their culture which goes back 40 000 years.

The survival of these forests is dependent on the availability of water, without water these forest don’t have a future. Water is the key to the health of these wetland forests. What we have at the moment is a prolonged drought compounded by climate change, but we also have a lot of water been taken out of the river, historically for irrigation, and if we’re going to get the rivers back to health and these Red Gum forests back to health, we need to address this misuse of water and put more water back into the environment and more water back into these wetlands and into these beautiful forests.

Climate change will impact on the amount of rainfall and therefore the amount of water that is available for these wetlands. We will need new National Parks to make sure that threatened species can move between forests and along the river, but climate change is a great unknown when it comes to the future of these forests and their threatened species.

There are many threatened species within River Red Gum forests. The Barmah Forest is the only breeding site in Victoria for the Superb Parrot. Other species such as the Squirrel Glider, the Murray Cod and the Carpet Python are all listed threatened and live in these River Red Gum forests. Without healthy River Red Gum forests and wetlands these species simply won’t survive.

About this Video

Nick Roberts, Victorian National Parks Association, explains the importance of water to the health of River Red Gum ecosystems.
Length: 02:25