What is Baigup Wetland?
Baigup Wetland is a varied and complex site in terms of its history, current state and potential. Approximately 1 kilometre in length, 200 metres wide and about 15 hectares in total, it lies along the Swan River below Stone Street on the Maylands/Bayswater border.
Baigup is part of Bush Forever Site No. 313, which includes both sides of the river from the east end of Maylands Peninsula to Garratt Road Bridge. It is also part of Precinct 9 (Ascot to Guilford) in the Swan Canning Riverpark.
History and resultant Environmental Issues
The marshy river flats that once comprised most of the site were used by Nyungar who created and managed a mosaic of different vegetation types and camped seasonally on the higher ground behind what is now the reserve. After Europeans took the land, the dryer parts were used to pasture cattle and goats and, from the late 1800s until at least the 1930s, some sections were cultivated by Chinese market gardeners who lived in Mary Street (now Stone Street) above the reserve.
As late as the 1950s, home owners in Stone Street maintained private vegetable gardens, fruit trees and goat pastures on the river flats and market gardening continued beside Garratt Road until the second bridge was built to create a dual road across the river.
An entirely constructed lake was created at the west end in 2001 in an area filled predominantly with Typha orientalis (bulrushes). During the mid 2000s, a serious Acid Sulphate Soils event occurred following the disturbance of the naturally Potential Acid Sulphate Soils during lake construction.
This compounded problems caused both by the installation of a gas pipeline through the reserve in the late 1980s and the retention of the associated access track for use as a shared use walk way/cycle path. Extensive acid scalds associated with dead or struggling Melaleuca rhaphiophylla (Freshwater Paperbarks) can be seen in the eastern section on the landward side of the path.
This high use recreational path seriously interferes with the natural interchange of river water and water from a series of fresh water springs along the back of the reserve on the floodplain at Baigup. Although eleven culverts under the path allow limited interchange in some locations, no serious study of their functionality seems to have occurred since a student investigation of the original 10 culverts in 1991. Saline river water is increasingly inundating some areas on the river side of the path creating, in effect, two different types of wetland: estuarine marshlands and swamps along the river and fresh water wetlands on the landward side of the path.
Vegetation and Structure
Using information provided in previous reports, a 2010 Department of Water Management Plan describes the native vegetation at Baigup as follows:
"The naturally low-lying floodplains would have originally supported sedgelands such as the wide expanse of Juncus kraussii present in the reserve’s east. The permanently wet areas would have supported Melaleuca rhaphiophylla woodland with an understory of sedges including Lepidosperma tetraquetrum, Baumea juncea, B. articulata, B. preissii, B. vaginalis, B. rubiginosa and Schoenoplectus validus.
The area closer to the river at either end of the reserve, where the floodplain narrows, would have supported a taller Eucalyptus rudis community, while the reserve’s upland areas would have supported Banksia-Marri woodland". Native vegetation today "consists of Fringing Woodland of E. rudis and M. rhaphiophylla with localised occurrences of Low Open Forest of Casuarina obesa and M. cuticularis".
There is a "a mixture of estuarine and freshwater swamp communities, which are becoming rare along the Swan River. The tidal components of the wetlands consist largely of shore rush (Juncus kraussii) sedgelands, with a fringe of swamp sheoak (Casuarina obesa) along the river’s edge. In places there are belts of marsh club rush (Bolboschoenus caldwellii) and stands of freshwater paperbark (Melaleuca rhaphiophylla)" (Randall, N & Storer, T 2010, Baigup Reserve remediation and management plan, final report, Prepared by Ecoscape (Australia) Pty Ltd for the Department of Water,Western Australia.)
Aims and Objectives
Baigup Wetland Interest Group began as a virtual community network of people who care about our remnant environment. Since 2012, our aim is to see Baigup Wetland protected and preserved into the future as a valuable natural resource for wildlife, for the health of the Swan River, and for human recreation, wellbeing and education.
Our major objective is to encourage community interest in Baigup by building awareness of its history, natural assets, and challenges through a program of community activities and education. An electronic newsletter is issued four times a year (see below for past copies and a registration button).
Weeding days are held several times a year to support the work of City of Bayswater’s Department of Sustainable Environment and members work closely with the City on matters such as habitat preservation for birds, damage to infrastructure, changes in water regimes, algal blooms, new weed infestations, etc. We also liaise with other government and non government agencies responsible for protecting, restoring and preserving Baigup Wetland.
For more information:
Penny Lee, Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
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