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Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar Site: Strategic Management Plan

Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria





Parks Victoria developed this Strategic Management Plan in conjunction with the Department of Sustainability and Environment and key stakeholders and coordinated the public comment process on the draft document.


This report was prepared with financial support from the National Wetlands Program, under the Natural Heritage Trust.



© The State of Victoria, Department of Sustainability and Environment, 2003
This publication is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced, copied, transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical or graphic) without the prior written permission of the State of Victoria, Department of Sustainability and Environment. All requests and enquires should be directed to the Copyright Officer, Library Information Services, Department of Sustainability and Environment, 240 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne, Victoria 3002.

Disclaimers


This publication may be of assistance to you and every effort has been made to ensure that the information in the report is accurate. The Department of Sustainability and Environment does not guarantee that the report is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication.

The views and opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Commonwealth Government of Australia, the Federal Minister for Environment and Heritage, or Environment Australia.

This report is prepared without prejudice to any negotiated or litigated outcome of any Native Title Determination Applications covering land or waters within the plan’s area. It is acknowledged that any future outcomes of Native Title Determination Applications may necessitate amendment of this report; and the implementation of this plan may require further notifications under the procedures in Division 3 Part 2 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cwlth).

The plan is also prepared without prejudice to any future negotiated outcomes between the Government/s and Victorian Aboriginal communities. It is acknowledged that such negotiated outcomes may necessitate amendment of this plan.

Published in June 2003 by the Department of Sustainability and Environment
Level 14, 8 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne, Victoria.

Copies of this document are available at www.nre.vic.gov.au

National Library of Australia

Cataloguing-in-Publication entry

Victoria. Department of Sustainability and Environment.

Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar Site: Strategic Management Plan

Bibliography.

ISBN 1 74106 580 1


Cover: Hattah-Kulkyne National Park (Photograph: Parks Victoria collection).

Printed on recycled paper.


Contents


Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar Site: Strategic Management Plan 1

Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria 1

2

Parks Victoria developed this Strategic Management Plan in conjunction with the Department of Sustainability and Environment and key stakeholders and coordinated the public comment process on the draft document. 2

2

This report was prepared with financial support from the National Wetlands Program, under the Natural Heritage Trust. 2

This publication is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced, copied, transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical or graphic) without the prior written permission of the State of Victoria, Department of Sustainability and Environment. All requests and enquires should be directed to the Copyright Officer, Library Information Services, Department of Sustainability and Environment, 240 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne, Victoria 3002. 2

Disclaimers 2



This publication may be of assistance to you and every effort has been made to ensure that the information in the report is accurate. The Department of Sustainability and Environment does not guarantee that the report is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication. 2

The views and opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Commonwealth Government of Australia, the Federal Minister for Environment and Heritage, or Environment Australia. 2

This report is prepared without prejudice to any negotiated or litigated outcome of any Native Title Determination Applications covering land or waters within the plan’s area. It is acknowledged that any future outcomes of Native Title Determination Applications may necessitate amendment of this report; and the implementation of this plan may require further notifications under the procedures in Division 3 Part 2 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cwlth). 2

The plan is also prepared without prejudice to any future negotiated outcomes between the Government/s and Victorian Aboriginal communities. It is acknowledged that such negotiated outcomes may necessitate amendment of this plan. 2

Published in June 2003 by the Department of Sustainability and Environment
Level 14, 8 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne, Victoria. 2


Copies of this document are available at www.nre.vic.gov.au 2

National Library of Australia 2

Cataloguing-in-Publication entry 2

Victoria. Department of Sustainability and Environment. 2

Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar Site: Strategic Management Plan 2

Bibliography. 2

ISBN 1 74106 580 1 2

Cover: Hattah-Kulkyne National Park (Photograph: Parks Victoria collection). 2

Printed on recycled paper. 3

Contents I

Strategic Management plan for the hattah-kulkyne lakes Ramsar Site Page XCV II

Strategic Management plan for the hattah-kulkyne lakes Ramsar Site Page I I

1 Introduction 1

The Strategic Management Plan for the Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar site is an integral component of a program to develop a comprehensive management framework for Victoria’s Wetlands of International Importance (or ‘Ramsar sites’) listed under the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971). The primary goal of the management framework is to maintain the ecological character of Victoria’s Ramsar sites through conservation and wise use. 1

1.1 Strategic Directions Statement 1



The Strategic Directions Statement establishes Management Objectives for Victoria’s Ramsar sites and Statewide Management Strategies to achieve these objectives (NRE 2002). The Strategic Management Plans for individual Victorian Ramsar sites apply the Management Objectives and Statewide Management Strategies, promoting a range of specific Site Management Strategies that will maintain, and in some cases restore, the ecological character of the sites. Individual plans cover 10 of Victoria’s 11 Ramsar sites. Victoria’s eleventh Ramsar site, the Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands, was officially listed in 2001 (EA 2001) and is covered by a separate management plan. A diagram of the framework and related documents is shown below in Figure 1.1. 1

The Strategic Directions Statement provides the overarching policy framework for managing Ramsar sites in Victoria. It establishes Management Objectives for Ramsar site management across the State, which are then translated to the site-specific level by each of the Strategic Management Plans. The Management Objectives outlined by the Strategic Directions Statement are: 1

1. Increase the scientific understanding of wetland ecosystems and their management requirements. 1

2. Maintain or seek to restore appropriate water regimes. 1

3. Address adverse processes and activities. 1

4. Manage Ramsar sites within an integrated catchment management framework. 1

5. Manage resource utilisation on a sustainable basis. 1

6. Protect, and where appropriate enhance, ecosystem processes, habitats and species. 1

7. Encourage strong partnerships between management agencies. 1

8. Promote community awareness and understanding and provide opportunities for involvement in management. 1

9. Ensure recreational use is consistent with the protection of natural and cultural values. 1

10. Develop ongoing consistent programs to monitor ecological character. 1

The Strategic Directions Statement also provides background information on the suite of relevant international conventions, as well as related Commonwealth and State policy and legislation which directs and supports the management and utilisation of Ramsar sites. The Strategic Directions Statement and Strategic Management Plans are therefore intended to be read as complementary documents. 1

1.2 Purpose of the Strategic Management Plan 1



The primary purpose of the Strategic Management Plan (SMP) for the Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar site is to facilitate conservation and wise use of the site so as to maintain, and where practical restore, the ecological values for which it is recognised as a Ramsar wetland. This will be achieved by implementing Site Management Strategies under each of the key objectives (derived from the Strategic Directions Statement). 1

The SMP for the Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar site provides management agencies and stakeholders with an appropriate management framework and the necessary information to ensure that decisions regarding land use and development, and ongoing management are made with full regard for wetland values in environmental, social and economic terms. 1

Strategic Management plan for the hattah-kulkyne lakes Ramsar Site Page 1 1

Strategic Management plan for the hattah-kulkyne lakes Ramsar Site Page 2 2

The SMP has been structured in order to: 3

provide a comprehensive site description; 3

examine the legislation, policy and any related management instruments which direct or otherwise influence management both within and adjacent to the site; 3

clarify the roles and responsibilities of management agencies; 3

identify the values for which the site is recognised as a Ramsar site; 3

assess threats to these values through systematic analysis of both current and potential risks; and 3

give priority to Site Management Strategies that minimise and, where possible, eliminate identified risks to values. 3

1.3 Consultative framework 3



The SMP has been developed collaboratively through a multi-disciplinary team comprised of Parks Victoria staff from regional and central offices. Throughout the process, members of a Local Reference Group and key local stakeholders have provided input (see Figure 1.2). 3

The SMP is a public document formalised through a government approval process. As such, the SMP was subject to a public comment phase commensurate with State Government consultative processes. All comments received during this public consultation phase were considered in finalising this document. 3

The SMP is intended to operate over a six-year time frame and will be reviewed every three years to coincide with national reporting requirements under the Convention on Wetlands. 3

3

2 Ramsar Site Description 4

2.1 Location 4



The Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar site is located in the Riverina bioregion (Robinvale Plains subregion) approximately 480 km north-west of Melbourne between Ouyen and Mildura. The Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes system form part of the Murray River floodplain and consists mainly of shallow lakes, anabranches and temporary swamps. Only twelve of the lakes are included in the Ramsar site and cover an area of approximately 1,155 ha. The twelve lakes are: Arawak (40 ha); Bitterang (73 ha); Brockie (28 ha); Bulla (40 ha); Cantala (101 ha); Hattah (61 ha); Konardin (121 ha); Kramen (161 ha); Lockie (141 ha); Mournpall (243 ha); Yelwell (81 ha) and Yerang (65 ha). 4

2.2 Wetland type 4



Within the Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar site two inland wetland types are recognised under the Ramsar Convention. Lakes Arawak, Brockie, Bulla, Hattah, Kramen, Lockie, and Mournpall are classified as permanent freshwater lakes over 8 ha and Lakes Bitterang, Cantala, Konardin, Yelwell and Yerang are classified as seasonal intermittent freshwater lakes over 8 ha including floodplain lakes. 4

In Victoria wetlands are classified into eight categories (Corrick and Norman 1980). The Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar site includes areas of two wetland types under this system: Deep Freshwater Meadow and Permanent Open Freshwater (Table 2.1) 4

2.3 Criteria met for Ramsar listing 4



To be listed as a Wetland of International Importance or a ‘Ramsar site’, wetlands must meet one or more internationally accepted criteria in relation to their zoology, botany, ecology, hydrology or limnology and importance to waterfowl. The Ramsar Convention updated the criteria in 1999 (RCB 1999). The new criteria will be applied to Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes when the Ramsar Information Sheet is next updated in 2005. The former criteria met by the Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes site when listed in 1982 were: 4

2(b) it is of special value for maintaining the genetic and ecological diversity of the flora and fauna of the region; 4

3(a) it regularly supports >20,000 waterfowl; 4

3(b) it regularly supports substantial numbers of individuals from particular groups of waterfowl; and 4

3(c) it regularly supports 1% of the individuals of a population of one species or subspecies of waterfowl. 4

Information on how the Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar site meets these criteria is detailed in Chapter 4. 4

2.4 Land tenure and management 4



The Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes are located within Hattah-Kulkyne National Park. Hattah-Kulkyne National Park is proclaimed under Schedule 2 of the National Parks Act 1975 (Vic). Schedule 2 National Parks are required to be managed in accordance with the following objectives as set out in the National Parks Act: 4

to preserve and protect the natural environment including wilderness areas and remote and natural areas in those parks; 4

to protect and preserve indigenous flora and fauna and features of scenic or archaeological, ecological or other scientific interest in those parks; 4

for the study of ecology, geology, botany, zoology and other sciences relating to the conservation of the natural environment in those parks; 4

for the responsible management of the land in those parks; and 4

to make provisions in accordance with the foregoing for the use of the parks by the public for the purposes of enjoyment, recreation or education and for the encouragement and control of their use. 4

The recommendations of the former Land Conservation Council (LCC 1989) also direct the management of the park. 4

Hattah-Kulkyne National Park is classed as Category II (National Parks) in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) List of National Parks and Protected Areas. IUCN Category II areas are managed primarily for ecosystem conservation and appropriate recreation (NRE 1996). 4

Parks Victoria manages the Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar site. In addition a range of Government agencies are responsible for ensuring that management complies with a broad range of legislative requirements. The successful management of the Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar site therefore relies on effective cooperation and partnership between the various site and functional managers. Lead management agencies and their key responsibilities are summarised in Table 2.2. 4

2.5 Adjacent land use 5



Hattah-Kulkyne National Park is recognised as a Biosphere Reserve under the ‘Man and the Biosphere Program’ of the United National Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Biosphere reserves are areas significant on a world scale for their characteristic landforms, plants and animals, and the way they have been used by people. They have three functions: conservation; sustainable development; and logistic support (in the form of demonstration projects, environmental education and training, research and monitoring related to issues of conservation and sustainable development). Biosphere reserve designation does not alter the legal status of the land and there are no internationally legally binding requirements regarding their management. 5

Murray-Sunset National Park and Murray-Kulkyne Regional Park abut Hattah-Kulkyne National Park along with State Forest and private land used primarily for dryland cropping, stock grazing and irrigated horticulture. 5

The Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC), that came into force on 16 July 2000, identifies Ramsar sites as matters of national environmental significance for which the Commonwealth has a significant responsibility. Wise use principles extend beyond the Ramsar site boundaries. The EPBC Act sets out procedures for assessing actions with potentially significant impacts on Ramsar values, whether these actions are proposed within or outside site boundaries. 5

2.6 Catchment setting 5



The Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar site is located within the Mallee Catchment. The Mallee Catchment covers an area of 43,000 km2 and supports a human population of approximately 62,500. The primary land uses in the catchment are dryland and irrigated agriculture and conservation (MCLPB 1997). 5

The main hydro-ecological feature of the lakes is the large variation in permanency of the aquatic habitats ranging from episodically flooded lakes to almost permanent lakes that receive regular inflows. The Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes System is filled via Chalka Creek, an anabranch of the River Murray. The overall sequence of events during floods is complex, with the filling and emptying of each lake depending on its position in the system, its area, and its depth. The first lake to receive flood waters, several days after they first enter Chalka Creek, is Lake Lockie. All the southern lakes are then filled from Lake Lockie, typically taking another three weeks for water to reach the furthest lakes. 5

The northern part of the system, Lakes Mournpall, Yerang, Yelwell and Konardin, receives water both directly from Chalka Creek, and via Lake Lockie. Lake Bitterang is the last of the lakes to fill, with flood waters only reaching it over a month after the beginning of flooding, and then only if the flood level is sufficiently high. When the lakes are full, floodwaters also spread over surrounding floodplains, including an area Black Box flats to the west and south-west of Lake Lockie. Lake Kramen fills by overland flow from the Murray in a very high river. Lake Cantala is fed by a minor anabranch of the Murray River 5

Water retained in lake basins once floodwaters recede is gradually lost through evaporation. Most lakes are shallow, and dry up within two years if not refilled, but Lake Hattah may retain water for three years, and Lake Mournpall for up to seven years (Appendix 9). 5

2.7 Local Government 5



The Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar site is located within the Mildura Rural City Council. 5

Arawak 6

Bitterang 6

Brockie 6

Bulla 6

Cantala 6

Hattah 6

Konardin 6

Kramen 6

Lockie 6

Mournpall 6

Yelwell 6

Yerang 6

Freshwater meadow (ha) 6

0 6

73 6

0 6

0 6

101 6

0 6

121 6

161 6

0 6

0 6

81 6

65 6

Permanent open freshwater (ha) 6

40 6

0 6

28 6

40 6

0 6

61 6

0 6

0 6

141 6

243 6

0 6

0 6

Parks Victoria 6

Manage parks and reserves. 6

Parks Victoria Mildura 6

Manage Hattah Lakes and the surrounding Hattah-Kulkyne National Park. 6

Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) 6

Strategic direction for park and reserve management; flora and fauna management and implementation of the Ramsar Convention in Victoria; catchment and water management, forest management, coastal and port management; leasing, licensing and management of public land, strategic and statutory land use planning including the administration of the Victorian Planning Provisions. 6

DSE Mildura 6

Policy advice for the management of the Hattah Lakes. 6

Department of Primary Industires (DPI) 6

Provides strategic direction for fisheries management and research, agricultural services and sustainable development of Victoria's energy and mineral resources. 6

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