The Two Great Ramsar Wetlands project is a five-year project, started in 2018 and to be completed in 2023.
This project was originally led by the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA. The Port Phillip & Westernport CMA was integrated into Melbourne Water in January 2022 and Melbourne Water is now the delivery agency.
This project is led by Melbourne Water and aims to bring key agencies, land managers and community groups together to reduce the threats to the Port Phillip and Western Port Ramsar sites at Port Phillip Bay’s western shoreline and Western Port. This is achieved through landscape-scale actions including pest animal and weed control, revegetation, habitat augmentation and community engagement and education.
Why this project is important
Wetlands are important feeding grounds and nurseries for land, marine and freshwater animals. Hundreds of bird species depend on wetlands around the world as part of their life cycle. They are important plant habitats which, in turn, support feeding and breeding for birds and animals.
The wetlands of Western Port and Port Phillip Bay’s western shoreline are listed as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. These wetlands comprise over 81,000 hectares and support a wide range of native plants and animals of very high conservation significance.
A key achievement for the Two Great Ramsar Wetlands project in 2020-21 was the validation and declaration of Quail Island as feral pig free. Since 2014, The Port Phillip & Westernport CMA and Parks Victoria had been undertaking eradication and monitoring works, and remote camera and field inspections over the past 18 months have validated the program's success.
In 2020-21, Hobsons Bay City Council delivered a series of community engagement events to promote the environmental values of Port Phillip Bay’s western shoreline. Four events were held at Altona Coastal Park, with a highlight for participants being a kayaking adventure along Kororoit Creek.
Project partners continued to work with partners implement recommendations from the hydrological study for The Spit Nature Conservation Reserve. After a series of stoplogs were removed from a 60 hectare section of 29 Mile Road in late 2019, monitoring of the site in 2020-21 has seen outstanding results. Sthe saltmarsh vegetation community thriving and waterbirds and shorebirds utilising the site in large numbers.
Findings from the hydrological study for Cheetham Wetland indicate that the site is being suitably managed to provide habitat for waterbirds and shorebirds.
In 2019-20, the Two Great Ramsar Wetlands project successful delivered a feral cat cage-trapping program on French Island, resulting in the removal of 46 feral cats. Further to this, the integration of a new data collection platform significantly improved the tracking of feral cat sightings and removals.
Nature Glenelg Trust completed extensive research on the hydrological regime of a 60 hectare section of dry marsh at The Spit Nature Conservation Reserve and developed restoration options to improve its condition. This important piece of work will lead to continued discussions with stakeholders, land managers and the Australian Government to implement the recommendations and protect the reserve’s environmental values.
On Quail Island, remote camera monitoring, along with field observations, found no detections of feral pig activity. Further monitoring into 2020-21 aims to validate the eradication of feral pigs.
Evidence of fairy-tern breeding and successful fledgling at Observation Point is a positive sign that the past feral cat trapping program was successful. Fairy-terns have not bred at this location for approximately 10 years, indicating a reduction in feral cat predation (in the absence of red foxes).
2018-19 was the first year of the Two Great Ramsar Wetlands project. A comprehensive INFFER (Investment Framework for Environmental Resources) assessment involving extensive stakeholder collaboration was completed to assist with prioritising investment into the future. The assessment resulted in a list of priority sites and activities that will be incorporated into the remaining four-years of the project.
Parks Victoria and French Island Landcare successfully trapped and removed 26 feral cats on French Island, contributing to the long-term goal of eradication. French Island Landcare implemented a responsible pet ownership program, involving domestic cat sterilisation, GPS collaring, a domestic cat database and free micro-chipping.
Nature Glenelg Trust established a monitoring program to assist with a hydrological study of The Spit Nature Conservation Reserve. This study will help to inform a restoration strategy for 60 hectares of primary waterbird and shorebird habitat along Port Phillip Bay near Point Wilson.
Parks Victoria completed pest animal control and monitoring of black rats on Reef Island. Rangers have been trialling new control techniques to improve effectiveness and reduce non-target interactions.
Nature Glenelg Trust
French Island Landcare
Hobsons Bay City Council
Phillip Island Nature Parks
The Two Great Ramsar Wetlands project is supported by Melbourne Water through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.