Wildlife refuges along the Merri - our Green Links grant program submission

4th February 2024
By Michael O'Brien

The Coronavirus lockdowns around Australia produced a number of significant changes in community behaviour, which have remained after the lifting of restrictions on movement.  Chief amongst these is the acceptance of work from home as a feature of contemporary working life, a decline in public transport usage and the 'hollowing out' of CBDs.

For Merri Creek, the lockdowns led to a substantial increase in the number of people and their dogs visiting the environs of the creek. This has persisted post-lockdowns. This embrace of Merri Creek by the community is much welcomed. However, a consequence of larger numbers of people and their dogs walking the creek has been the displacement of swamp wallabies from Merri Park and the Northcote Golf Course to galada tamboore, north of the M80 ring road.

An ambitious project has been submitted to the state government under the Green Links grant program. Our submission proposes the creation of three wildlife refuges. These will be fenced to afford security from dog attacks to swamp wallabies re-entering the lower Merri.  These refuges will be established at Merri Park, Brunswick East and Coburg. Linking these refuges will be four kilometres of dense plantings to provide access for movement of the swamp wallabies. Over 17,000 mid and ground-storey shrubs and grasses will be planted. These plantings will also provide habitat for small insectivorous birds that are being chased away by larger, aggressive birds attracted to the vast array of non-indigenous flowering plants growing in urban gardens. The return of these insectivorous smaller birds will lead to greater control of insects, such as psyllids, which are currently breeding out of control and attacking eucalypts along the creek.

As part of this ecological restoration of Merri Creek parklands, it is hoped that the increase in shady native habitat along the creek bank and improved quality of vegetation will improve habitat for the platypus. These often migrate up the Merri Creek, but do not linger due, in part, to lack of suitable habitat. The Merri Paddle, a sub-group of the Friends of Merri Creek, is investigating what other actions will be necessary to re-establish a permanent presence of platypus in Merri Creek.

Context map: Proposed sites for wildlife refuges and revegetation linkages,
Friends of Merri Creek submission, 2023.




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