Building a new bridge across the Murray River will improve the way people live, work and travel around Echuca and Moama. We understand the complex balance of improving road safety and connecting communities whilst caring for our natural environment. When we build, we comply with all legislative requirements, including those of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
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We've had to remove up to 18.73 hectares of vegetation in Victoria and NSW so we can build the new river crossing, including large areas of regrowth and lower quality vegetation. As part of the Biodiversity Assessment Guidelines, we’ve offset the removal of native vegetation and have secured similar native vegetation within the regional catchment area.
Environment Effects Statement
In 2013, an Environment Effects Statement (EES) assessment was undertaken. In March 2016, the Minister for Planning released his assessment of the EES inquiry and the advisory committee report and approved the Mid West option.
Protecting large trees
Prior to starting works, we undertook a detailed tree mapping study to develop a vegetation database and minimise the number of trees to be removed. Every tree along the alignment with a diameter greater than 100mm was GPS located and information such as species, diameter and potential timber reuse opportunities was recorded.
The information captured was used on site to identify the trees that needed to be removed, and the trees that needed to be kept.
We’ve also protected any trees located on the perimeter or outside of the project area by fencing them off as ‘No Go Zones’ to ensure they are not removed or damaged during construction.
For Stage 3, we worked closely with the Murray River and Campaspe Shire councils, the 2 regional Catchment Management Authorities and the Project’s Environmental Reference Group to identify high value timber reuse opportunities for the local environment and community.
The timber we removed during Stage 3 was repurposed using the Highest and Best Use Principles, such as mulch for landscaping and hollow bearing logs for wildlife habitat.
Murray River Council has identified beneficial uses of the timber it receives for local projects. It will use this timber to enhance the beauty of the local area, depending on the quality of the timber available.
We make sure our activities are carefully managed to benefit the local environment and the community.
Tree species removed
Native species that have been removed along the alignment include:
- Grey Box Eucalyptus microcarpa
- Black Box Eucalyptus largiflorens
- Yellow Box Eucalyptus melliodora
- River Red-gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis.
There are also sizeable areas of small trees and trees classified as regrowth that have been removed.
Local wildlife habitats
In late 2017, we commissioned an independent environmental assessment. Environmental experts looked at each tree individually to identify the species and whether it was a habitat for wildlife. We also completed an audit of the vegetation in the area.
During late 2019 and early 2020, in preparation for major works on Stage 3, we created over 150 additional habitat hollows in Victoria Park and along the Campaspe River to provide shelter and protection for local wildlife. In particular, for the Victorian Temperate Woodland Bird community and Squirrel Gliders.
Trees that we identified as a possible habitat for local fauna were inspected by a qualified zoologist and fauna handler before they were removed. Where we found animals, our zoologist safely handled and relocated them to a suitable habitat nearby.
Planting native trees
We have a program to revegetate Victoria park with native trees, shrubs and grasses. We’ll increase vegetation density in some areas and provide additional habitat and food for endangered species such as the Squirrel Glider. One of the aims of this program is to reduce the number of weeds around Victoria Park.
We’ll continue to work with the Campaspe Shire and Murray River councils and our Environmental Reference Group about our revegetation program.