Protecting Wetlands for 50 Years!

World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on February 2nd, as this date marks the anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in Ramsar, Iran in 1971 – 50 years ago today.

The Convention aims to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and conserve those that remain. Australia was one of the five founding nations to sign the Ramsar Convention, and there are now 66 Ramsar-listed wetlands in Australia, with three in the South West of WA. These are the Muir-Byenup wetlands east of Manjimup, the Vasse-Wonnerup wetlands in Busselton and Toolibin Lake found inland from Narrogin.

SWCC has received funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program to undertake work to help protect and conserve these wetlands, as they provide vital bird habitat and breeding grounds for a variety of local and migratory bird species. This five-year project aims to implement a broad range of priority actions across the three Ramsar sites to improve their condition and reduce threats to their ecological values.

Image of Vasse-Wonnerup wetland system

Vasse-Wonnerup wetland system

Toolibin Lake is the last, large Casuarina obesa-dominated wetland with mostly living trees in the inland agricultural area of south-west Western Australia. When full, Toolibin Lake supports more breeding waterbird species (25 species) than all other inland wetlands in the region. SWCC is working with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) – Parks & Wildlife Service, to revegetate large areas in and around the wetlands to provide habitat and food for wetland birds, and to help reduce salinity. The lake has a long cultural history, with its unique patterns of filling and draining.  These are called ‘fill events’ and happened approximately every 3 years, although these fill events are now becoming more sporadic due to the changing climate.  During a tree planting event with local school children, Narrogin Elder, Les Eades shared his memories of fishing in Toolibin Lake as a teenager!

The Vasse-Wonnerup wetlands are recognised as one of the most important breeding habitats for waterbirds in the state and are considered to regularly support 20,000 or more waterbirds. SWCC works with stakeholders to protect the wetlands through fencing and revegetation projects as well as raising the public’s knowledge of how to reduce nutrients from entering the waterways, particularly from urban gardening and agriculture.

Lastly, the Muir-Byenup wetlands support a number of endangered species listed under the EPBC Act, such as populations of three wetland dependent orchids, a freshwater fish species and the Australasian Bittern which is a migratory waterbird species. These wetlands are used as a drought refuge by tens of thousands of waterbirds and up to 52,000 waterbirds have been counted at Lake Muir during periods of high-water levels. SWCC is working with DBCA and a pest contractor to conduct quarterly bird monitoring, undertake fox control, and to revegetate a 20 hectare area.

We hope you will join us in supporting World Wetlands Day, by spreading the message of the importance of wetlands, not only for humans, but for all the wonderful wildlife found in the south west region.

This project is being undertaken on the traditional lands of the Noongar people and we acknowledge them as the Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. This project is supported by SWCC through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

 

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