The complex ecological make-up of Busselton’s Vasse-Wonnerup wetlands is the focus of a new booklet launched today that summaries a 12-month ecological monitoring project.
‘A Year on the Vasse-Wonnerup wetlands’ details extensive ecological monitoring, undertaken between March 2017 to March 2018, in the wetlands that is listed as a ‘Wetland of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention.
The study aims to help scientists, community members and managers understand potential impacts on the ecology of the wetlands from increasing seawater inflows to the Vasse Estuary. It is funded through the Revitalising Geographe Waterways program, which has received an additional $1.6 million funding boost from the State Government through the 2019-20 State Budget.
Water quality, macroinvertebrates, aquatic plants, fish and waterbirds in the wetlands were monitored and that monitoring revealed:
- Eight aquatic plant species (including seagrasses, submerged plants, seaweeds and algae);
- 84 species of macroinvertebrates (such as worms, snails and shrimps);
- 19 species of fish (including Hardyheads, Trumpeter Whiting, Southern Longfin Goby and Bluespot Goby); and
- 86 species of water birds (including the Black Winged Stilt, the Australian Shelduck, the Red-Necked Avocet and the Australasian Shoveler).
The ecological monitoring program will continue until 2020 and is a unique collaboration between scientists and managers from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, and Murdoch University.
Over the coming months, scientists will analyse and interpret the data collected over the first two years of the program. To download a copy of the booklet, visit https://rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au
As stated by Water Minister Dave Kelly:
“The Vasse-Wonnerup wetlands are recognised on a local, State, national and international level for their conservation values and are of high importance to the local community.
“They provide habitat to thousands of Australian and migratory water birds as well as supporting the largest breeding population of black swans in the State.
“Scientists have been investigating options to improve water quality by monitoring seawater inflows through the Vasse surge barrier and modelling options to increase flows into the Vasse Estuary.
“This monitoring is critical to identify the impacts that changes in water regimes have on the long-term ecology of the wetlands.
“This booklet is the first step to making this information accessible to the community and key stakeholders.
“It is a great example of how the McGowan Government is working with partner agencies to improve water quality, waterway health and the management of Geographe waterways.”