This year marks 50 years of the Convention of Wetlands of International Importance, known as the Ramsar Convention. The 2021 theme for World Wetlands Day ‘Wetlands and Water’, provides us with a timely opportunity to reflect on these incredible ecosystems.
“The events of the last few years, from significant drought, to widespread fires, have really emphasised the importance and role of water in our communities and the significance our wetlands” said South East Local Land Services’ Sonia Bazzacco.
“Wetlands are special places, they provide so much to us, particularly here on the coast, so it is essential that we look after them.”
Wetlands are used by the whole community, they are important for local agriculture and oyster producers, they are prime spots for recreation and tourism, provide buffers from severe weather events and are vital nurseries for many recreational and commercial fish stocks.
The largest threats to wetlands in the South East include stock accessing and damaging waterways, nutrient and pollutant run off from urban and agricultural areas and wetland weeds.
“We’re working closely with land managers to protect one of the South East’s most important wetland communities – saltmarsh.
“Saltmarsh play an important role as an environmental filter, trapping sediment and nutrients from our estuaries, providing a buffer to our shore lines from erosion and providing food and habitat to numerous species of fish and migratory birds.” Sonia said.
The protection and enhancement of these wetlands is especially important in reducing the impacts of climate change.
“Saltmarsh absorbs more carbon and at a faster rate than any other vegetation community, even rainforest.
“We’ve been able to work with 6 land managers over the last year to fence off over 20 hectares of saltmarsh in the Shoalhaven and Moruya Rivers, Currumbene Creek and Burill Lake, protecting these areas from stock incursions and enhancing the saltmarh’s potential to perform its amazing role in our estuaries.
“This project is supported by South East Local Land Services, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.” Sonia said.
Work to address the impact that the Southern fires had on local wetlands has also been delivered with support through the Australian Government’s Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Recovery Program.
Immediately post fires there was a great risk of a rain event causing increased run off into waterways and wetlands. Erosion control work was carried out across the Deua and Clyde river catchments to minimise this risk.
Targeted weed control work has also been carried out along the Upper Tuross, Clyde and Deua rivers to allow native plants the space and time to regenerate without the extra competition posed by invasive weeds.