Exotic Tree Removal for River Health in Our Region

Council, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority and Landcare are working together for river and creek health in our region

Why remove willows and poplars from our waterways?

Barwon River Project, Birregurra

Barongarook Creek Project, Colac

Rivers, creeks, estuaries and wetlands are extremely important natural assets that underpin a range of social, economic and environmental values enjoyed by our communities. The Barwon River and Barongarook Creek are two such important assets for our region.

While we sometimes take these systems for granted our waterways provide us with a host of things, including: clean water, habitat for native species of flora and fauna, a range of recreational opportunities, and aesthetic and cultural values associated with the strong attachment people have with them. They are a vital part of healthy ecosystems and thriving communities.

Colac Otway Shire Council, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority and Landcare all recognise this importance and undertake a wide range of projects to improve the overall health of our catchment and to enhance individual waterways and surrounding environmental systems within it. 

Two significant projects that will be undertaken during March and April are a willow and poplar removal project along Barwon River, Birregurra, and a willow removal project along Barongarook Creek, Colac.

These exotic tree removal projects will be followed by significant revegetation programs to re-establish native plants that are appropriate to the sites and to help restore these natural assets.

Why remove willows and poplars from our waterways?

Unfortunately, willows were deliberately introduced into Australian waterway management because for decades people believed their complex root systems would help to control erosion. With time, though, it became clear that they were far from being of benefit to our natural systems and were  creating a host of problems.

Some of the negative impacts of willows are that the species is: extremely invasive; chokes up waterways; out-competes with native vegetation and prevents native regeneration; alters stream and river courses; and negatively impacts the habitat and biodiversity of our waterways and surrounding land.

Unlike most other vegetation, willows also spread their roots into the bed of a watercourse, which slows the flow of water and reduces aeration, often negatively impacting on aquatic life.  Most species of willow are actually classed as Weeds of National Significance, considered among the worst weeds in Australia, because of their invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic and environmental impacts.

The negative impacts of poplars along river- and creek-beds are similar, and poplars are likewise highly invasive and form dense thickets along waterways. Both species also have significant seasonal impacts: their leaves create a flush of organic matter when they drop in autumn, reducing water quality and available oxygen, and directly threatening aquatic plants and animals.

Further, when these species occupy river- and creek- banks in place of native vegetation, such as river red gums, they greatly reduce habitat opportunities for both land and aquatic animals, including in the form of nesting hollows and snags.

Therefore, while willows and poplars can be very beautiful and are much loved by many people, there is no denying that these species have no place along our river- and creek- banks.  We need to play our part in nation-wide efforts to halt the spread of willows and redress the balance by removing them from waterways in our region.

Barwon River Project, Birregurra

 Barwon River Project Area for Exotic Tree Removal

Works in the area indicated in the map will begin in mid-March and traffic management controls will be put in place during part of the works.

This project is being funded by the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority and managed by the Upper Barwon Landcare Network. It has the support of Colac Otway Shire Council.

The project area will be revegetated with local native trees, shrubs and grasses during late winter and spring.

For information or enquires about the project, please contact Corangamite Catchment Management Authority’s Catchment Officer, Jess Lill, at jess.lill@ccma.vic.gov.au, or on 5232 9100.

Barongarook Creek Project, Colac

Barongarook Creek Project Area for Exotic Tree Removal  

Works in the area indicated in the map will begin in late March and pedestrian pathway diversions will be put in place during part of the works. The precise project schedule will be outlined here shortly.

The Barongarook Creek willow removal project is being managed by the Colac Otway Shire Council.

The project area will be planted with appropriate native species in May and spring, as part of Council’s ongoing revegetation program along Barongarook Creek.

For information or enquires about the project, please contact Council’s Environment Officer, Liza Kennedy, at liza.kennedy@colacotway.vic.gov.au, or on 5232 9400.