Matt & Henry: Drought refuges in the Woady Yaloak

Mentor: Matt Bowler — West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority
Mentee and Author: Henry Cooper – Corangamite Catchment Management Authority

Matt and I focused our efforts on prioritising drought refuges in the Woady Yaloak Catchment of Western Victoria. This is because the Woady Yaloak catchment hasn’t had as much attention as other similar-sized catchments despite it containing threatened species (e.g. Growling Grass Frogs, Yarra Pygmy Perch) and terminating in a Ramsar-listed wetland: Lake Corangamite.

Site visits by Matt and Henry in the Woady Yaloak.

We planned to do some community engagement as part of this, but the uncertainty of future funding led us to focus more on the background information to enable future engagement instead. I mapped all the pools in the Woady Yaloak catchment and Matt helped me think about how to prioritise these areas and how to approach different stakeholders. This will help my team hit the ground running when the next funding round comes along and the mapping exercise helped with a federal funding bid for Growling Grass Frog habitat enhancement. But it was outside of the project that the mentoring relationship was most helpful.

Matt and Henry's site visit where they 'nerded' out on plant ID. Photo: Henry Cooper

I did my first willow removal and revegetation projects during the program and found Matt to be very helpful in the knowledge he shared during our regular catch-ups. There was also a lot of general career development and life discussions that were very valuable. And of course, our field day when Matt came to visit my area and nerd out on plant ID was a definite highlight.

Throughout this program, I have gained more confidence in public speaking; in-depth knowledge on some of the projects I’m working on; and a friend in another CMA. We have already caught up at the annual Field Staff Conference where all the CMAs from around Victoria get together and knowing Matt helped me extend my network even further. I plan on visiting the West Gippsland CMA in the future to have another day out in the field together.

Matt Bowler (centre right) and Henry Cooper (centre left) graduating from the Program in 2023, accompanied by Andy Lowes (far left) and Dr Siwan Lovett (far right).
Matt Bowler (centre right) and Henry Cooper (centre left) graduating from the Program in 2023, accompanied by Andy Lowes (far left) and Dr Siwan Lovett (far right).

Apply Now for 2024!

Applications are now open for The Waterway Management Emerging Leaders Program in 2024. The Program is a structured mentoring program focusing on improving the on-ground delivery of current Victorian riparian restoration projects. This Program provides an opportunity for the most effective approaches to be shared and adopted between all those working in waterway management across the State.