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Salinity in the Central and Northern Victoria Region

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For the purposes of this document, the Central and Northern Region of Victoria encompasses the Catchment Management Regions of North Central, Goulburn Broken and North East. It includes a large part of the Central Highlands and the Northern Riverine Plains of Victoria. The region contains the bioregions; Murray Fans, Victorian Riverina, Northern Inland Slopes, Goldfields north-eastern part of the Wimmera, Central Victorian Uplands and Highlands - Northern Falls and lesser parts of the Victorian Alps, Murray Mallee and
Victorian Volcanic Plain. The region is dominated by a series of river systems running north from the Great Dividing Range to the Murray River. These include the Avoca, Loddon, Campaspe, Goulburn-Broken, Ovens, Kiewa and Mitta Mitta systems.

The majority of dryland salinity in the Central and Northern Victorian Region is secondary in nature, having been induced by excessive land clearing in the higher parts of the catchments and consequence rising of local ground-water tables. This in turn has impacted on regional ground-water levels and has contributed to salinity increases in the irrigation schemes of the Victorian Riverine Plain and Murray Fans. The effects of increased salinity are mainly evident in the mid-slopes, drainage lines (often heavily eroded) and water ways of the Goldfields, Central Victorian Uplands and Northern Inland Slopes with subsequent salinity discharge into Murray Mallee and Victorian Riverine floodplain, river and wetland environments (e.g. Lake Buloke, The Avoca Marshes, Lake Cooper). At higher elevations (e.g. Victorian Alps and Highlands), well drained soils and higher rainfall generally precludes the accumulation of salt in the landscape.

Typical indicator plant species of secondary salinity include Buck’s-horn Plantain (Plantago coronopus), Spiny Rush (Juncus acutus), Coast Barb-grass (Parapholis incurva) and Sea Barley-grass Hordeum marinum (syn. Critesion marinum). These are all introduced exotic species but some Australian native species are also commonly found, such as Round-leaf Wilsonia (Wilsonia rotundifolia), Beaded Glasswort (Sarcocornia quinqueflora), Streaked Arrow-grass (Triglochin striata) and Australian Salt-grass (Distichlis distichophylla).

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