Giving decision makers a bird's eye view of the Lachlan

Community and agency members of Lachlan Environmental Water Advisory Group (EWAG) describe a January aerial flight over the Lachlan catchment as a 'once in a lifetime experience'.

Great Cumbung Swamp

EWAGs meet regularly to review, plan the use of, and discuss the outcomes of environmental watering events and associated actions.

NSW Senior Environmental Water Manager, Jo Lenehan, explained that they are always looking for innovative ways to enhance the already wide range of knowledge and experience of EWAG members. 

‘Our Lachlan team undertake regular waterbird breeding monitoring and inundation mapping flights, giving those lucky enough to be on board a unique, holistic perspective,’ Dr Lenehan said.

‘We thought wouldn’t it be great to be able to provide our EWAG members with that same bird’s-eye view of the landscape that puts our work into perspective. Not only does it give us information about how far the water has spread, it provides an appreciation of how the river system responds – the extent and vigour of vegetation growth, and spread of numerous waterbird colonies across the catchment – that simply can’t be understood from the ground.’

Lachlan EWAG chair, Mal Carnegie, agrees, saying that ‘as a result, we are building the capacity of the EWAG in terms of enhancing member understanding of catchment-scale processes – and that has obvious benefits to our decision-making process.’

Mr Carnegie said there were other benefits to participating in this type of group activity.

‘You’ve got that networking going on at a really fine scale,’ Mr Carnegie said.

‘People are experiencing the same thing at the same time, can discuss it in live detail, and the depth of it means that everyone is learning collaboratively.’

Lachlan EWAG and Great Cumbung Swamp Water Management Plan project committee members get ready to board their flight

Department of Planning and Environment First Nations Engagement Officer Kaleana Reyland said the flight, showing the extent of flooding across the lower Lachlan floodplains, was incredibly worthwhile from a cultural perspective. 

‘The resources available for Aboriginal people are abundant and would have been shared with neighbouring nations,’ Ms Reyland said.

‘The extent of water flowing through the ancient lakes and creek systems would be plentiful, enhancing cultural values.

‘After an extended dry period, the wet conditions may uncover so many cultural values.

‘It’s an area that traditional owners have been excluded from for so long. I am looking forward to getting community back on Country.’

Lachlan EWAG community representative, Peter Skipworth, of Lake Cargelligo, said the flight provided the rare opportunity to see firsthand the catchment as a whole.

‘It was fantastic to see how the system works and its complexities from top to bottom,’ Mr Skipworth said.

Living further upstream in the mid-Lachlan area, Mr Skipworth said the flight provided an insight into other areas, fostering greater understanding.

‘To be able to join the dots was incredibly valuable,’ Mr Skipworth said.

‘I’ve been a member of the EWAG for many years, and this is the best thing I have ever been involved in.’