Calls to care for Mother of Ducks
Guyra’s Mother of Ducks Lagoon is a rare and highly significant ecological feature of our landscape which provides protection to threatened and critically endangered species and ecological communities. It is considered to be one the most important landmarks in Guyra, and over the years has been subject to a tug of war between community demands for grazing and recreation, versus the maintenance of its natural cycles.
There is now a new push to see the area protected and build on restoration efforts that began in the 1980s when the Guyra Quota Club led a major beautification project of the area with the support of various other local groups.
The value of the area was recognised by early settlers and visitors, describing it as ‘a magnificent body of water’ and ‘a most splendid aquatic pleasure resort’. For a period of time, a steam-powered launch was a popular attraction for visitors to the area, however this was abandoned during an extended dry period in the early 1900s. Since then the area has been drained for agricultural and recreational purposes.
The lagoon was partially restored as Guyra’s Bicentennial project, initiated by the Quota Club in an effort to restore its value as a home to a wide range of aquatic birds. The Quota Club received Federal Government funding whereby approved projects could be seen as a lasting memorial to the Australian Bicentenary.
In 1987, most of the 97 hectares of the reserve were enclosed within a levee bank to retain higher levels of water. This means that the outer lagoon is still drained but the levee bank acts as a partial barrier to slow the movement of water out of the system. The section of the lagoon within the levee does not hold water to a depth greater than 1 metre before it drains into Laura Creek, thus acting as a surrogate of the natural hydrological regime.
Quota had wanted to try and refill the lagoon and re-attract the natural wildlife of the area. During times of plentiful rain, it is home to nests of black swans and a host of other water birds which can be seen from the viewing platform or by walking around the bank of the reserve area.
The lagoon is one of 58 natural freshwater wetlands on the New England Tableland of which only 28% are considered intact and in good condition. The lagoon is one of only three in National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) reserves.
The wetland contains two threatened ecological communities and provides habitat for three bird species listed as endangered (including one listed as critically endangered at the national level) and 13 bird species listed as vulnerable under the Biodiversity Conservation Act. Eight bird species listed under international migratory bird agreements have been recorded.
The formation of a new Landcare group is now underway and all interested and/or concerned members of the community are welcomed and encouraged to attend a public meeting on a date yet to be determined (COVID-19 dependent.)
Members of the community have concerns that the recent drought and the installation of bores may further impact surrounding waterways, shallower aquifers and very importantly the lagoon, which has already been altered by drainage events. Understanding of groundwater, upland wetlands and their importance on the health of the wider catchment is limited. The long term sustainable management of water and land for all is one of many issues the new group is looking to explore further.
Anyone interested in joining the Landcare group should
contact Rachel Lawrence, Landcare Coordinator, by phone on 67729123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org