Tilba Lake catchment project benefits environment

Landowners and Local Land Services have been busy re-vegetating and fencing Tilba Lake to improve water quality for the marine environment.

Since early this year, South East Local Land Services (LLS) have been focused on improving the Tilba Lake catchment area as part of a ten year program called the Marine Estate Management Strategy.

More than 2000 trees planted as part of the Tilba Lake catchment project.

More than 2000 trees planted as part of the Tilba Lake catchment project.

"We chose to prioritise the Tilba Lake because of poor to fair water quality readings recorded in the past," LLS senior officer Sonia Bazzacco said.

For the first two years, South East LLS received $3 million funded by NSW Government's Marine Estate Management Strategy.

"With funding we are working on priority catchments from Wollongong to Eden," Ms Bazzacco said.

"The aim is to improve water quality for the marine environment."

So far, at Tilba Tilba Lake and nearby Victoria Creek, Ms Bazzacco said work has been running smoothly.

"There are two projects underway at Victoria Creek and another two on the lake, which will be done over the next year and a half," Ms Bazzacco said.

Trees have been planted along the vegetation line (riparian zone) and fences have been installed to keep stock from reducing water quality through damaging vegetation and defecating in the waterway.

"We have been repairing the riparian zone by planting trees; this will create a vegetative buffer to reduce the impact of sediment and lead to improvements in water quality," Ms Bazzacco said.

The Wagonga Local Aboriginal Land Council's working crew planted 2000 trees in the first week.

"A lot of this project involves the Aboriginal community, there will be 2200 trees planted along the riparian zone," she said.

"Vegetation such as trees, shrubs and grasses - all native to the area have been planted.

"Many species will benefit as the riparian zone is also a wildlife corridor," Ms Bazzacco said.

To exclude stock, nine hectares of the lake has been fenced off - which is about 16 per cent of the lake area, Ms Bazzacco says.

The fencing also protects the lake's saltmarsh, which serves important ecological roles.

Image: NSW DPI website.

Image: NSW DPI website.

One of those roles Ms Bazzacco described, is a "carbon sink" - capturing and holding carbon.

"The fencing protects the saltmarsh which is an important and fantastic source; it sequesters carbon and is a great sediment trap," she said.

"It's is also an important food source for lots of species such as prawns and fledglings who use the saltmarsh as a nursery."

Four landowners are committed to the project with two who have already helped with fencing and re-vegetation.

Central Tilba resident Sally Pryor didn't hesitate to jump on board and help with the project.

"I feel I am very privileged to have 100 acres of land, where really, I am care-taking not owning," she said.

"I want to put vegetation back on the land; it's nice to be in a position to enable this to happen.

An aerial image of Tilba Lake, taken before 2012.

An aerial image of Tilba Lake, taken before 2012.

"The great thing is, this will help build projects in other areas," Ms Pryor said.

NSW Office Environment and Heritage continue to collect data and monitor the catchment on a regular basis.

Ms Bazzacco said funding is available for priority catchments and encouraged landowners who are interested in the project to contact South East Local Land Services' office on 64917800.