World Wetlands Day 2004 -- Australia -- Hunter Estuary

08/03/2004

Celebrating World Wetlands Day in the Hunter

The Shortlands Wetlands, part of the Hunter Estuary Wetlands Ramsar site, were a hive of biodiversity on World Wetlands Day 2004. Its animal inhabitants welcomed an influx of over 480 members of Homo sapiens sapiens. People came to celebrate the beauty of the wetland and the exciting program of events that were on offer.

We couldn't have asked for more perfect weather - the sun shone, a light breeze blew and the birds appeared in their usual diversity in and around the waters of Shortland Wetlands. The air was amix with the sounds of children laughing, ducks calling, adults discussing the beauty of the place, and cicadas sending out mating calls.

The day had been specially designed to give people the chance to really 'experience' the wetland. We had wanted people to walk away having learnt something about the value and functions of wetlands and to have planted a seed to create some sense of place in this wetland area.

People had the opportunity to learn about native reptiles and amphibians; tempt and broaden their tastebuds with a bushfood experience; gather some interesting and practical ideas on transforming their backyard into a haven for birds, butterflies and frogs; or to capture the beauty of nature on film under the guidance of a wildlife photography expert. As well, a wetland plants stall was set up offering advice and sale of native wetland plants throughout the day.

The beauty of nature was celebrated through nature craft activities. Children and adults alike used their imaginations to dress up cicada shells, make jewellery out of fallen leaves, seed pods, and flowers, or create small arrangements of nature's sheddings. The bugs came to play as dipnets scooped into the waters of the permanent water pond. People's faces clambered around white trays with dipnet collections. Conjectures were had about the identity of the many waterbugs found in the waters of the wetland.

People's comments as they left for the day were a great inspiration for future World Wetlands Day events:

"We have had such a wonderful day! We've been here since the beginning of the day and the kids haven't complained once about being bored."

"The place is so beautiful, we'd love to camp overnight."

"Thank-you for organising such a great day! This has been our first experience with the wetlands and we've learnt so much."

Kylie Yeend
Hunter Ramsar Communications Project Officer


MEDIA RELEASE

MONDAY 19th January 2004

Celebrating World Wetlands Day in the Hunter

Did you know we have internationally recognised wetlands right here on our doorstep?

Shortland Wetlands and Kooragang Island Nature Reserve are jointly listed as a wetland area of international significance, otherwise known as the Hunter Estuary Wetlands. This wetland area covers almost 3000 hectares, representing the single largest estuarine reserve in NSW.

Celebrating this significant and beautiful place, World Wetlands Day is being held on Sunday 1st February at The Wetlands Centre, Shortland. World Wetlands Day is an annual event to mark the first signing of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) on 2nd February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

Australia was amongst the 18 countries that first embraced the Convention, signing the document back in 1971. There are now 138 countries that are signatories to the Convention, contributing a total of well over 111 million hectares of protected wetlands of international significance.

The Wetlands Centre's Ramsar Project Officer, Kylie Yeend, encourages all of us to join in the fantastic range of FREE activities on Sunday 1st February at Shortland.

"We've designed the day to include an exciting program of activities for all ages, capturing a range of interests. The day is for all the people of the Hunter and for those visitors who want a unique experience in our beautiful backyard."

"Come along and learn about native reptiles and amphibians. Tempt and broaden your tastebuds with a bushfood experience. Gather some interesting and practical ideas on transforming your backyard into a haven for birds, butterflies and frogs. Capture the beauty of nature on film under the guidance of a wildlife photography expert. There will also be stalls set up offering advice and sale of native wetland plants throughout the day."

"If you've never been to The Wetlands Centre, World Wetlands Day is the perfect opportunity to experience this important wetland area. For those who have visited in the past, the day promises new encounters, with the program of events never having been offered in this package."

"We are grateful this year for the financial support offered through the Commonwealth Government's Natural Heritage Trust and the Ian Potter Foundation towards the event."

Further information & Photo opportunities:

Kylie Yeend, 49516466 (Mon. - Wed.)
email: ramsar@wetlands.org.au

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