Plants at HWCA
The Hunter Wetlands Centre Australia hosts a high diversity of both endemic (original) and rehabilitated native plant communities. Over 150 native and exotic floral species have been recorded within the Hunter Wetlands Centre.
These species occur within the 22 vegetation communities that occur on the 45 ha site. In addition to the remnant vegetation present on site, there has been a committed landscaping effort surrounding the Visitor Centre.
Prior to 1988, Greening Australia (Hunter Valley) planted 2,290 trees. Since then, under the direction of the Australian Plants Society, over 55,000 trees have been propagated, planted and documented. Planting is guided by a Site Management Plan 2002 - 2009 which divides the site into four zones:
Visitor Centre Zone Plants from throughout Australia
Constructed Wetland Plants from throughout Lower Hunter Region
Natural Wetlands Plants indigenous to the site
A reconstructed rainforest zone for educational use
The success rate has been excellent. The plantings have significantly changed the landscape, enhancing biodiversity, hydrology and natural processes on the site.
The mosaic of plant communities at Shortland Wetlands has significant value for biodiversity. The Melaleuca Swamp provides nesting and roosting habitat for Egrets, Herons and Ibis. Reedy margins provide breeding areas for native waterfowl. Vegetation in shallow pond margins provides foraging sites for shorebirds.
Vegetation plays a vital role in hydrological processes. Wetland plants stabilise shorelines, reducing soil erosion. They filter and trap sediment from stormwater inflows, reducing turbidity and sedimentation in the receiving waters of Ironbark Creek, Hexham Swamp and the Hunter Estuary.
The rehabilitation of wetland and terrestrial plant communities serves as a demonstration site for community involvement in vegetation management. Bush regeneration activities on the site provide training opportunities for volunteers including TAFE students, Green Reserves and Australian Conservation Volunteers.
Plants on the site have education values, providing opportunities for a range of interpretive themes including backyard biodiversity, stormwater improvement and wildlife habitat.
HWCA also hosts the Australian Plant Society’s (Newcastle Branch) nursery which is open to the public every Thursday between 9am and 12.00 noon.