Endangered frogs can thank landholders for their survival in far south-west NSW.
Just a few kilometres from the South Australian border, on the Murray River, two landholders are managing their wetlands specifically for the protection of the southern bell frog.
Mick Greatz and Paul Cohrs have seen the difference water can make and are doing their bit to safeguard the future of this distinctive native frog and its wetland habitat.
As part of their management strategy, the landholders are working with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage to deliver environmental water to their wetlands.
For Mick Greatz, the use of environmental water is an opportunity to see positive change in the health of wetlands on his property.
“As a 10 year old I vividly remembered the life and sounds that arrived in the wetland soon after natural flood waters,” Mr Greatz said.
“That’s why I wanted to get involved with environmental water.
“My family and I saw a definite decline in wetland health during the drought and lower river flows.
“But environmental water has given us an opportunity to reverse that.
“At Cliffhouse, we’ve seen regeneration of red gums and black box as well as other native varieties.
“Discovering southern bell frogs and white-breasted sea-eagles making use of the wetlands are two of the most exciting outcomes for me,” he said.
“It is amazing to see the increase in frog numbers, water birds, insects and reptiles,” Mr Cohrs said.
“We run a small tourism business and our visitors are amazed by the abundant and diverse array of wildlife and vegetation when walking through the area.
“There are other wetlands on our property that do not receive environmental flows and the difference is like chalk and cheese.
“Before environmental flows we noticed many of the majestic river red gums, box trees and native vegetation dying due to lack of water and worsening salinisation.
“We have found it extremely rewarding working with the NSW OEH and feel that the work they carry out on our wetlands is vital in assisting us to maintain the health of our ecosystem,” he said.
Since 2008, the Nampoo and Cliffhouse sites have been targeted on three occasions for environmental flows.
A fourth watering event in October, topped up the wetlands before the heat of summer.
Environmental water management officer Sascha Healy said the work of landholders combined with environmental water had been key to the frog’s survival in this region.
“Before we began watering these sites there was only anecdotal evidence of the frogs surviving in very limited pockets in the area,” Ms Healy said.
“Since the first delivery of environmental water, the frogs have been popping up wherever environmental water has flowed.
“In fact, one of the sites took delivery of its first environmental water just last year and already the frogs are making themselves at home,” Ms Healy said.
These landholders have gone one step further than just inviting the delivery of environmental water onto their properties.
“They have recognised the conservation value of their wetlands and are actively managing them specifically for the frogs,” Ms Healy said.
“There’s no stocking or cropping to impact on the sites.
“When managed together the sites provide connectivity for the frogs so they can move more readily through the ecosystem.
“Environmental water is supporting and enhancing the health of the ecosystems, increasing their resilience as we head into warmer weather,” Ms Healy said.