Banrock Station has continued its commitment to rejuvenate its wetland area by artificially flooding nearly 300 hectares of lagoon. Wine, nature lovers and tourists alike will once again be able to enjoy the incredible sight of the wetland’s diverse ecosystem coming to life.
Mimicking the seasonal cycle of drying and flooding the wetland area brings immense benefits to the native wildlife and flora. Drying the wetlands allows Banrock Station Wines to limit the invasion of European Carp and refreshes the wetland soil, while flooding the area replenishes the habitat for more than 200 animal and plant species during the spring months.
The nearly 1,000 hectares of restored wetland that surround the Banrock Station vineyards is listed by the International Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance – making it a destination for travellers around the world. It’s not just native birds who flock to the property; visitors are welcome to explore boardwalks and enjoy wine tastings and meals at the Wine & Wetland Centre. It’s a showcase of sustainable architecture, renewable materials and minimal environmental footprint.
In January this year (2017) following the high river flows Banrock Station moved to dry the wetland for 7 months in an effort to:
1) limit the impact of the carp that have entered the wetland with the recent high flows (and it works: 22 years ago, 60 tons of carp were removed, and in 2015 only 2 tons were removed!)
2) improve our wetland soil health by stopping the build-up of Acid Sulphate Soils in the wetland (Acid Sulphate Soils are naturally occurring in the region and can increase by leaving floodplain wetlands permanently flooded)
3) allow native trees and plants to germinate and grow between flood phases,
4) preserve our unique biodiversity that is adapted to the natural succession of dry and wet cycles,
5) returning water to the river and make it available for other Murray River ecosystems (up to 500 Megalitres for a 6 months period, or 1150 Olympic-sized swimming pools for 2 year cycle),
6) allowing us to do some maintenance work on the dry wetland (removal of weeds, repairs and cleaning of boardwalk and regulators infrastructure, etc.)
Internationally recognised Wetland Manager, Dr Christophe Tourenq is keenly anticipating the drastic change the water will initiate in the wetland’s lifecycle. Dr Tourenq, who has visited and worked within other international wetlands says Banrock Station offers an opportunity to see a unique Australian biosystem up close.
“The community and staff are anxious to see the wetland replenished after the dry period. Once the wetland is full, the native birds and fish will instinctively return to the area to live and breed, and vegetation will begin to bloom. It’s very exciting,” says Tourenq.
Nicole Coats, Cellar Door Manager is also very excited. “Enjoying lunch and a glass of Banrock Station wine from our cellar door, whilst overlooking the wetland and vineyard is incredibly relaxing. People who visit can taste wine at the cellar door, have a meal and also have the opportunity to take self-guided tours, bird watch or simply appreciate the beauty of the wetlands.”
The wetland will remain flooded until the summer, when Banrock Station will reduce water levels mimicking summer-drying.