This review in 2015 covered the existing literature, both from published sources and from unpublished consultants’ reports, on the form and evolution of the Gippsland Lakes, the variety of vegetation that fringes the Lakes’ shorelines, and the way both have changed since European colonization of the Gippsland region. The next step in the first stage of the broader study, Fringing vegetation and its geomorphological importance for the Gippsland Lakes shoreline, is to undertake a detailed survey of different parts of the shoreline in order to:
- Describe shoreline geomorphology at a wide range of sites around the Gippsland Lakes
- Characterize the fringing (water-dependent) vegetation at these sites
- Assess the ecological value of this vegetation
- Account, where possible, for any changes in shorelines or in vegetation since European colonization
- Determine any relationship between lake or river-water salinity and shoreline geomorphology and fringing vegetation
- Determine whether a freshwater subsidy is responsible for fringing vegetation occurring along the more saline shorelines, from which it would be otherwise be excluded by high salinity
- Determine whether Common Reed collected from saline sites is more salt-tolerant than plants collected from fresher sites.
The second stage, Genetic identification of salt-tolerant strains of Phragmites australis (Common Reed) for use in revegetation projects around the Gippsland Lakes, will determine whether there is a genetic basis to any difference in the salt-tolerance of different strains of Common Reed and the extent to which clones from different sites are genetically related.
The two studies, taken together, are used to provide more detailed advice on possible revegetation strategies for the shoreline of the Gippsland Lakes and the lower parts of the rivers that flow into it.