Filmy ferns flourishing in Sunny Creek

Gippsland Water senior environment and sustainability lead Shannon examines Filmy Maidenhair ferns at Sunny Creek.

Gippsland Water has discovered two new colonies of critically endangered Filmy Maidenhair ferns at Sunny Creek Conservation Reserve in Trafalgar.

The new colonies were located during a recent site visit by the organisation’s Environment team.

Acting managing director Simon Aquilina said the ferns were one of several endangered species Gippsland Water actively manages and protects.

“We’d previously recorded two small Filmy Maidenhair colonies at the site, each measuring no more than two meters squared,” Aquilina said. “These new colonies are even smaller than that but are still incredibly exciting. It’s proof that our conservation efforts, such as managing weeds, pests, and other potential threats, are working, and the ferns are thriving.”

While critically endangered in Victoria, the Filmy Maidenhair fern is commonly found in warmer parts of Australia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Southern China and Fiji.

It prefers wet rock faces and riverbanks near waterfalls where humidity is higher and natural protection from the sun and other threats, like bushfires, is provided.

The fern has green tufted fronds that can grow up to 25cm long and a creeping root system that spreads out across the rock faces it calls home.

Aquilina said the health of flora, fauna and natural resources, including water, are interdependent.

“It’s crucial we protect the environment to ensure it’s here for future generations. Our teams actively monitor the environment’s health at all the sites we manage and actively work to protect and enhance biodiversity. Some other vulnerable species we protect include the Pookila, Metallic Sun Orchid, and Wellington Mint-bush.”

To assist with further conservation planning for the species, the new records of Filmy Maidenhair will be recorded in the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, Victoria’s authoritative database of native and introduced plant and animal observations.

To find out more about Gippsland Water’s role in managing biodiversity, visit www.gippswater.com.au/biodiversity

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