Gunbower Forest, which covers 19,450 ha, is bounded by the Murray River to the north and Gunbower Creek to the south. It is an internationally significant site under the Ramsar Convention and forms part of the Living Murray Gunbower-Koondrook-Perricoota forests icon site. River regulation and water extraction from the Murray River and Gunbower Creek have reduced the frequency, duration, and magnitude of flood events in Gunbower Forest. This has affected the extent and condition of floodplain habitats and the health of plant and animal communities (such as river red gum and black box communities, native fish, birds, platypus, frogs, and turtles) that depend on those habitats.
Gunbower Creek is a natural creek that has been modified to supply irrigation water from the Murray River to the Torrumbarry Irrigation Area. There are 12 lagoons, largely located in the upper reaches of the creek system, that are permanently or seasonally connected to Gunbower Creek. Water for the environment is used in Gunbower Creek to improve habitat for native fish, especially Murray cod.
The Living Murray environmental works program in the middle and lower forest was completed in 2013. The works allow up to 4,500 ha of the wetlands and floodplain to be watered with considerably less water than would be required if the watering infrastructure was not in place. The works enable efficient watering through Gunbower Creek and the forest to maintain the wetland and floodplain condition and provide connectivity between the creek, forest floodplain, and the Murray River. Frequent connections between the river and floodplain habitats allow animals to move between habitats and support critical ecosystem functions (such as carbon exchange).