It’s Time for Wetlands!

Help protect and restore our vital local wetlands so migratory birds like this red-necked stint can continue to visit. Photo by Scott Humphris

Help protect and restore our vital local wetlands so migratory birds like this red-necked stint can continue to visit. Photo by Scott Humphris

World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on 2 February to raise awareness about wetlands. This day also marks the anniversary of the Convention on Wetlands, which was adopted as an international treaty in the city of Ramsar in Iran in 1971.

Since 1997 this date has been celebrated with World Wetlands Day to draw attention to the relevance of promoting biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in such an important ecosystem.

Did you know that 40% of all species either live or breed in wetlands? Wetlands also remove pollutants from water runoff and provide storm protection to coastlines. 

What is a wetland? 

They are described as ‘land areas that are saturated or flooded with water either permanently or seasonally’.

Made up of three base categories:

  • Inland – marshes, ponds, lakes, fens, rivers, floodplains,swamps
  • Coastal – saltwater marshes, estuaries, mangroves, lagoons, and even coral reefs
  • Man-made – fishponds, rice paddies, saltpans

The Great Sandy Strait is internationally known as RAMSAR site number 992 and is the largest area of tidal swamps within the South East Queensland Bioregion of Australia. And it is right on our doorstep!

Comprising intertidal sand and mudflats, extended seagrass beds, mangrove forests, salt marshes, freshwater Melaleuca wetlands and coastal wallum swamps, the area provides an exceptionally important feeding ground for migratory shorebirds.

This year’s theme ‘It’s Time for Wetland Restoration’ highlights the urgent need to prioritise wetland restoration, and calls on all generations to revive and restore degraded wetlands.

What can you do to help?

Conscious choices: Make choices that minimise the loss and degradation of wetlands, and maximise awareness of how urgent their restoration is.

  • Learn more about wetlands, their value for people and the planet, and become aware of the major threats to this valuable ecosystem..
  • Make water-friendly and ecosystem-conscious decisions. Use water sparingly. Adopt a diet with less environmental impact.
  • Avoid using toxic products that could flow into wetlands. Don’t dump waste or rubbish in wetlands.

Persuasive voices: Encourage others to directly support local wetland restoration efforts.

  • Become a wetland champion who advocates for protecting local wetlands, and for restoring degraded ones.
  • Maximise awareness of wetlands and the urgency of their restoration. Use your social media outreach to highlight wetlands and World Wetlands Day using the hashtags #GenerationRestoration #ForWetlands and #WorldWetlandsDay.
  • Take a wetlands field trip to see where restoration is needed. Consider what the wetland does for the area, and whether it is degraded.

Bold actions: Use your own power to create change and support wetland restoration, locally, regionally or nationally.

  • Create an advocacy effort that encourages local, state, and national governments to protect local wetlands and restore degraded ones.
  • Hold or join a public wetlands clean up day like the Lions Club of Tin Can Bay on Clean Up Australia Day on 5 March.
  • Get directly involved in a local wetland restoration project. Get input and help ensure that the restoration efforts reflect the needs of local residents. Friends of the Cooloola Foreshore meet weekly in Tin Can Bay so contact Ros on 0403 568 566.

What else can you do?

Wetland restoration benefits us all in multiple ways, from reviving biodiversity, improving water supply, storing carbon and reducing extreme weather to improving livelihoods, boosting eco-tourism and enhancing well-being. The 7 best practices in wetland restoration areas:

  • Consider the multitude of services the natural wetland has provided, and aim to recapture a wide range of those benefits, not just one or two.
  • Aim to recreate a wetland ecosystem that can maintain itself.
  • Integrate local communities and industries during planning and implementation.
  • Identify the causes of degradation and limit or eliminate them.
  • Clean up the degraded area.
  • Restore native vegetation and wildlife, and remove invasive species.
  • Restrict site access, creating specific places for people and animals.

Effective change begins in the home with appropriate waste disposal and recycling, using low and phosphate free detergents, unbleached paper, and non-toxic cleaning products.

Plant local species to keep ecological balance – visit Cooloola City Farm for plant species advice as they mostly stock Cooloola Coast local plant varieties.

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