With the origins of Field & Game Australia intertwined with preserving wetland habitats, it seemed only a natural progression to form a public fund to assist in further wetlands conservation. While wetland habitats form part of public land such as State Game Reserves and State Parks, accessing these wetlands for conservation and to perform maintenance can be problematic.
The Wetlands Environmental Taskforce (WET) was formed in 2002 with the purpose of purchasing, restoring and maintaining wetland habitats. With ownership of the habitats comes the full access required to rehabilitate ecosystems and restore biodiversity.
With rehabilitation comes transformation, none so dramatic as the changes brought about at the Heart Morass, in Gippsland. In 2004, a parcel of 819 hectares of the Heart Morass was up for sale. The land was worn down, depleted by a century of stock grazing, with salinity issues from saltwater intrusion, but it could be made into a diverse and productive wetland again.
The first land purchase was completed in 2006, with two more parcels of adjoining land acquired by WET in 2010 and 2013. Restoration and conservation started with the 2006 purchase, and continues to this day. Field & Game Australia members have, and will continue to, volunteer their time and expertise to rehabilitate this degraded farmland to the thriving wetland habitat it once was.
In the years since that first parcel of land was purchased, over 50,000 native trees have been planted, 20 tonnes of introduced (and invasive) carp have been removed, and seeds have been collected from over 50 native plant species for revegetation, thanks to hunters and the Heart Morass project partners: Field & Game Australia, Watermark Inc., Bug Blitz, West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, and the Hugh Williamson Foundation.
The Heart Morass is one of the largest projects undertaken by WET. Other projects include the Australian National Hunting Archive, where the role of hunting in Australia’s history and culture is the central focus of a large library and archive; and the latest project at Connewarre, where Field & Game Australia members are devoting hundreds of hours to construct a wetland centre for the purposes of research into wetland habitats, waterfowl nesting and breeding habits, as well as educating hunters and the wider public alike on the benefits of wetland habitats and hunter-led conservation efforts.
Field & Game Australia are proud to have been involved with the inception of WET, as the conservation of wetland habitats is as important now as ever.
For more information on WET's projects, visit http://www.wet.org.au