The biggest wetland restoration in the Southern Hemisphere will soon get underway with Lake Mokoan handed over to the Winton Wetlands Committee of Management.
Minister for Environment and Climate Change Gavin Jennings said the committee will oversee the $20 million environmental project to restore the 8000 hectare wetland system and create a significant tourist attraction and environmental asset for North East Victoria.
“This is one of the most significant environmental restoration projects of its kind in Victoria’s history and will create a world class wetland,” Mr Jennings said.
“The Winton Wetlands will be restored to an area of large and small redgum wetlands surrounded by open grassy and box woodlands.
“Restoring the wetland system will bring the return of abundant wildlife and native vegetation and provide perfect habitat for threatened bird species.
“Throughout this project there will be opportunities in education and research in addition to the environmental benefits of the restoration.
“Once completed, Lake Mokoan will offer significant recreation, education and tourism opportunities for the community and local economy.”
Mr Jennings said the Winton Wetland Committee of Management would be responsible for implementing the Future Land Use Strategy over the next eight years.
“The Future Land Use Strategy proposes the construction of a visitor centre, bike paths, boardwalks and picnic facilities creating a tourism asset for the local and regional community,” he said.
Lake Mokoan was a man-made lake built in 1971 over the Winton Wetlands in the Broken River system as water storage for irrigators in the Goulburn system in North East Victoria.
The lake was the most inefficient water storage in Victoria losing three in every four litres of water. It has been decommissioned with the water saved being returned to rivers.
Chair of the Winton Wetlands Committee of Management Bill Hill said the committee will work closely with the local and regional community to return Lake Mokoan to its natural state.
“We want to restore a world class wetland that the North East Victoria will be proud of and attract for visitors to the region,” Mr Hill said.
“Work has already started to create an indigenous seed bank to assist the natural regeneration of plant species that once covered the area.
“One of the committee’s earliest priorities will be to develop its infrastructure masterplan to provide community access to the wetlands and for the development of bike paths and trials around and through the wetlands.”