Inlsnd river ecology in “free fall”

Birds, fish and forests damaged: Migratory bird populations, fish stocks and river red gum forests have all been damaged at these sites and only 10 per cent of the World Heritage-listed Macquarie Marshes is still considered healthy. The report card also listed the Narran Lakes, west of Walgett, as seriously threatened, while the Lowbidgee Wetlands and Great Cumbung Swamp on the Lachlan River and the Central Murray State Forests were considered endangered.

Needs 1500 gigalitres back: IRN, a conservation network including groups like the Australian Conservation Foundation, Nature Conservation Council and National Parks Association, said 1500 gigalitres of water needed to be returned to the Murray River to support wetlands.

"Artificial drought": IRN co-ordinator Amy Hankinson said taking up to 80 per cent of water from rivers in the basin for irrigation had imposed a long "artificial drought". “The Government must buy back water from willing sellers on the market so when it finally rains these wetlands can get a well-earned drink,” she said. “If they don’t we could lose them forever.”

Fish species "decimated": The IRN report said fish species had been decimated by the falling water levels in the Murray, Lachlan and Murrumbidgee rivers, with a recent large survey unable to catch a single cod or catfish.

The Daily Telegraph, 31/1/2007, p.5

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