Watermark has formally adopted this unique restoration and rehabilitation initiative as its flagship project and ongoing major focus.
Since December 2000, Watermark has been working towards the rehabilitation of the Ramsar significant Heart Morass Wetlands on the doorstep of Sale.
The Heart Morass area was settled in about 1841 and over time has been drained, cleared and managed for beef and dairy production. As a result, and with the impacts of salt, the health of the wetlands has declined.
In 2006, Field Game Australia’s, Wetlands Environmental Taskforce Public Fund, with major support from The Hugh D.T.Williamson Foundation, purchased 785 hectares of the Morass from a private owner. The rehabilitation of the Morass then commenced as a joint initiative of a stakeholder group comprising Field & Game Australia Inc., Watermark Inc., the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority and the Bug Blitz Trust.
This 2006 acquisition was followed in 2010 by the purchase of a further 302 hectares from a second private owner.
The purchase and rehabilitation will ultimately restore the wetland to a place of national significance for water birds and other wetland dependent flora and fauna.
The partners have formalized their relationship by way of a Memorandum of Understanding which outlines a shared vision for the wetland.
On-ground works undertaken by the West Gippsland Catchment Authority, Field & Game Association members and the Gippsland Regional Schools “Bug Blitz” program together with various research and scientific studies are all combining to ensure the successful implementation of the exhaustive Restoration Plan.
Studies are well advanced that will ultimately provide a secure environmental water allocation for the Latrobe River wetlands which will greatly enhance the restoration proposals.