The Gayini wetland is part of the Lowbidgee floodplain, the largest remaining area of wetlands in the Murrumbidgee Valley, with Yanga National Park, within the southern Murray-Darling Basin. This is an amazing part of the world.
We're collaborating on one of the largest restoration projects in the Murray-Darling Basin, which aims to integrate social, cultural and environmental values. The management of environmental flows and large wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin has been challenging with concerns about disenfranchisement of communities and different management approaches at the local scale, which reflect obligations and interests of state, Commonwealth and non-government organisations. This project builds on the historic opportunity to develop an innovative approach to the land, water and cultural management of the Gayini wetlands with a consortium led by the traditional owners of the Nari Nari Tribal Council and involving The Nature Conservancy and the Murray Wetlands Working Group.
This floodplain and its associated wetlands systems are areas of national and international significance. They provide habitat, breeding grounds for colonial waterbird and other waterbird species, including migratory species listed under international agreements, rare and endangered frogs and birds, as well as threatened plants.
The key vegetation communities identified on Nimmie-Caira include:
Hydrological features include natural river and creek channels, natural quaternary lakes (deflation basins) and irrigation channels. Although some of these features are man-made and have disrupted natural flow regimes, they currently provide critical habitat for wetland biota and in some places, ensure connectivity between dryland areas and the floodplain.
While around half of the property was previously used for cropping and grazing, the majority of it remains covered with significant native vegetation in good or recovering condition.
The natural features of the property are the key to understanding and protecting the cultural values of Nimmie-Caira. Aboriginal people will be back on their own country and designing programs to ensure significant employment and health and wellbeing outcomes.
The natural features will also be a key driver of research and education programs with significant capacity to study and learn from our management activities, involving the Centre for Ecosystem Science.
The entire Nimmie-Caira area was a rich cultural landscape supporting many Aboriginal people, as evidenced by the cultural features, particularly the burial mounds, ovens and sites. There is evidence that Aboriginal people used targeted interventions to promote the productivity of regions like Nimmie-Caira, promoting fish, bird and vegetation growth.
Aboriginal land ownership and management is a key outcome of the consortium bid as evidence has shown that this delivers the best environmental, social and economic outcomes.
All core partners have significant experience building capacity for Aboriginal organisations.
We're able to draw on a strong networks of advisors we have built to deliver integrated sustainability outcomes and to provide access for peer learning from Aboriginal organisations around the following:
Nimmie-Caira’s economic values stem from a range of anticipated commercial activities including:
A number of other non-commercial activities are also anticipated including:
The future management of the property will focus on three main areas of equal importance:
Ensuring freshwater security within Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) is one of Australia’s greatest natural resource management challenges, involving complex ecological and sociological processes and decision-making.
Australian governments spend millions of dollars to conserve aquatic biodiversity and fisheries threatened by water-resource development, but outcomes are poor when dams or weirs block fish migrations.