The Australian and South Australian Governments are investing $10 million in a project to improve refuge habitat for shorebirds by constructing regulators, pumps, pipes and earthworks to manage water levels at priority wetland sites.

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin’s On-Ground Works project aims to improve the availability and quality of habitat for migratory and non-migratory shorebirds at priority wetlands in the Lower Lakes.

Minister for Resources and Water, Keith Pitt, said the $10 million investment in the Coorong and Lower Lakes is on top of the $70 million already funded and will support local jobs and the community through work on maintaining and repairing iconic wetlands.

“To maintain and improve the health of this iconic site, it is critical that these interventions are made to improve food availability across key wetlands,” Mr Pitt said.

“This capital investment supports direct and flow-on economic benefits to local communities – including 72 full time equivalent jobs.

“By working to increase the availability of shallow wading habitats, this project will provide jobs and support greater numbers of shorebirds by providing important refuge habitat for species that would otherwise use the Coorong South Lagoon.

“Most importantly, this project will create local jobs while protecting our precious wetlands. This is a win for the local economies and the environment.”

Small-scale wetland management infrastructure will be constructed at three priority wetland sites at Tolderol, Waltowa and Teringie with regulators, pumps, pipes and earthworks put in place to manage water levels to improve the extent, quality and duration of inundation.

South Australian Minister for Environment and Water, David Speirs, said the project will provide foraging habitats for seven target waterbird species, including the common greenshank, curlew sandpiper, sharp-tailed sandpiper and red-capped plover.

“Once the infrastructure is in place there will be a significant increase of shorebird habitat of similar type to the Coorong South Lagoon,” Mr Speirs said.

“Upon completion, we expect this will provide more than 260 hectares of high-quality habitat with carrying capacity for more than 15,000 of the seven target species.

“This project is part of South Australia’s Project Coorong initiative, which is taking action to restore the health, vitality and visitor experience of the Coorong through environmental projects to get the Coorong back on track and initiatives to boost eco-tourism.

“Over the past few months there has been more action than ever before up and down the Murray-Darling Basin and this is just another example of practical environmental outcomes being delivered by the Marshall Liberal Government in partnership with the Morrison Coalition Government.”

Member for Barker, Tony Pasin, said that the Coorong is an internationally recognised Ramsar-listed wetland and a national park that welcomes thousands of domestic and international visitors each year.

“It’s a delicate ecosystem supporting many significant and endangered flora and fauna,” Mr Pasin said.

“Improving the Coorong’s waterbird habitat is critical, not only for the biodiversity of this iconic environmental asset but also the tourism offer that is so important to the local economy.”

Construction is expected to commence in late 2022.

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