National Report of Australia for COP7

12/03/1999

National Report prepared for the 7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)

 Implementation of the Ramsar Convention in general, and of the Ramsar Strategic Plan 1997-2002 in particular, during the period since the National Report was prepared in 1995 for Ramsar COP6

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The information in the table below may now be out of date. Electronic and postal contact addresses have been removed in this reprint edition.

Contracting Party Australia
Designated Ramsar Administrative Authority Environment Australia, Biodiversity Group
Name and title of the head of the institution Mr Stephen Hunter, Deputy Secretary
Name and title (if different) of the designated contact officer for Ramsar Convention matters Mr Brendan Edgar, Director, Wetlands Unit, Environment Australia, Biodiversity Group

Appendices

Appendix 1 List of projects funded under the National Wetlands Program 1996-1998

Appendix 2 List of publications which promote the wise use of wetlands

Appendix 3 Management Planning at Ramsar sites

Appendix 4 Change in ecological character (q 5.3) and further information on management planning at Ramsar sites

Appendix 5 Comments from the Australian Wetlands Alliance

List of Tables

Table 1 Status of State and Territory Wetlands Policies

Table 2 Details of State/Territory efforts to address the integration of wetlands into planning and management processes

Table 3 State/Territory actions taken to remedy and to prevent pollution impacts affecting Ramsar sites and other wetlands

Table 4 Key mechanisms relating to Environmental Impact Assessment

Table 5 Involvement of community groups in the conservation and wise use of wetlands

Table 6 Involvement of the private sector in the conservation and wise use of wetlands

List of Boxes

Box 1 The Wetlands Policy of the Commonwealth Government of Australia

Box 2 The Natural Heritage Trust

Box 3 Waterwatch Australia

Box 4 Salinity Action Plan for Western Australia

Box 5 Tri-national Wetlands Cooperative Program

Box 6 Shorebird Action Plan

Introduction

This report has been prepared by the Wetlands Unit of the Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia with information provided by each of the State and Territory Governments and from non-government organisations with an interest in wetlands.


Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 1
To progress towards universal membership of the Convention.

1.1 Describe any actions your government has taken (such as hosting regional or subregional meetings/consultations, working cooperatively with neighbouring countries on transfrontier wetland sites) to encourage others to join the Convention.

Australia, in partnership with Wetlands International- Oceania, has provided information and training to a number of Pacific Island countries to promote the implementation of, and encourage their accession to, the Ramsar Convention. This partnership is facilitated through an ongoing Memorandum of Understanding between Environment Australia and Wetlands International - Oceania whereby the Oceania office of Wetlands International is co-located with the Wetlands Unit.

Key achievements of this partnership include;

  • assistance has been given to Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia (a territory of France) to raise awareness of the benefits and obligations of accession, to identify candidate Ramsar sites and where possible prepare draft nominations. The political/administrative process for accession is at different stages in each country/territory.

  • projects that demonstrate the benefits of international cooperation on wetlands conservation have been developed or implemented in several countries, in regard to inventory, training and capacity building, wise use and awareness raising, with an emphasis on mangroves and freshwater lakes. Assistance with preparing funding proposals for new initiatives has been provided.

  • input to a brochure on the benefits of Small Island Developing States joining the Ramsar Convention was provided to the Ramsar Bureau.

  • assistance with convening a Regional Meeting to assist Oceania countries to prepare a coordinated regional approach for the 7th Conference of Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention in 1999. The meeting will take place in New Zealand in early December 1998.


Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 2
To achieve the wise use of wetlands by implementing and further developing the Ramsar Wise Use Guidelines.

2.1 Has a National Wetland Policy/Strategy/Action Plan been developed, or is one being developed or planned for the near future? If so:

a. What are/will be its main features?

b. Was it, or is it, intended that the Policy/Strategy/Action Plan be adopted by the whole of Government, the Minister responsible for Ramsar matters or through some other process. Please describe.

c. How does it relate/will it relate to other national environmental/ conservation planning initiatives (e.g., National Environmental Action Plans, National Biodiversity Action Plans, National Conservation Strategies)?

2.2 If a policy is in place, how much progress has been made in its implementation, and what are the major difficulties being encountered in doing so?

2.3 If a Policy/Strategy/Action Plan is in place, is the responsibility for implementing it with :

a. a single Government Ministry,
b. a committee drawn from several Ministries, or
c. a cross-sectoral committee?

2.4 For countries with Federal systems of Government, are there Wetland Policies/Strategies/Plans in place, being developed or planned for the provincial/state or regional levels of Government? Yes/No   If yes, please give details.

Box 1. The Wetlands Policy of the Commonwealth Government of Australia

The Wetlands Policy of the Commonwealth Government of Australia was launched on the inaugural World Wetlands Day, 2 February 1997. The goal of the policy is to promote the conservation, repair and wise use of wetlands as an official acknowledgment that Australia recognises the many values of wetlands, and is prepared to build their conservation and wise use into the daily business of Government. The policy’s six major strategies set out a range of actions designed to address the management of Commonwealth wetlands through Commonwealth legislation and programs and to act as a catalyst, stimulating and enabling Australians, including all spheres of Government, to participate in a collective effort towards the wise use of wetlands. The six major strategies address:

  • managing wetlands on Commonwealth land and waters
  • implementing Commonwealth policies and legislation and delivering Commonwealth programs
  • involving the Australian people in wetlands management
  • working in partnership with State/Territory and local Governments
  • ensuring a sound scientific basis for policy and management, and
  • international actions.

The Commonwealth Wetlands Policy represents a significant first step towards development of a national approach to wetlands management.

The Policy was developed in consultation with representatives of Commonwealth agencies with wetland management responsibilities and the National Wetlands Advisory Committee (see response to 4.1). A stakeholder workshop and a public comment period provided the community with an opportunity to input to the development of the Policy. The Policy was approved by Cabinet and launched by the Commonwealth Environment Minister.

Additional national policy instruments with implications for wetlands include:

  • National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD Strategy),
  • National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia’s Biological Diversity (Biodiversity Strategy)
  • Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment
  • Greenhouse 21C Strategy
  • National Weeds Strategy
  • National Forest Policy Statement
  • Towards a Sustainable Future - the ESD Policy for Australia’s Development Cooperation Program
  • Council of Australian Governments Water Reform Framework
  • ARMCANZ/ANZECC National Principles for the Provision of Water for Ecosystems
  • Oceans Policy (under development)

 The Commonwealth’s Wetlands Policy has been developed with full recognition of the need to harmonise it with existing policy instruments and, as appropriate, to amplify the goals, objectives and strategies of these policies. Working primarily through existing programs and decision making mechanisms, the Wetlands Policy is designed to advance wetland conservation as an integral part of efficient and environmentally responsible delivery of Commonwealth services.

Implementation of the Commonwealth Government’s Wetlands Policy

In Australia, primary responsibility for nature conservation, land and water management including legislation, management of wetlands and conservation of associated flora and fauna, is vested with the Australian Federal, State and Territory Governments in their respective areas of jurisdiction. The Australian and New Zealand Environment Conservation Council (ANZECC), comprising relevant New Zealand, Commonwealth and State and Territory Ministers, provides a forum for the discussion and formulation of coordinated policy and programs throughout Australia and New Zealand.

A Wetlands and Migratory Shorebirds Taskforce of ANZECC, comprising officers from each Australian State and Territory ANZECC agency has been established to advise on the implementation of the Ramsar Convention in Australia. Environment Australia, as the principal adviser to the Australian Federal Government on nature conservation, is the Convenor of the Taskforce and coordinates implementation of the Ramsar Convention in Australia including the forwarding of Australian nominations of wetlands for listing, and the preparation of the Australian National Report.

The majority of initiatives outlined in the Commonwealth Wetlands Policy are already being implemented with funding from the National Wetlands Program under the Natural Heritage Trust initiative. A formal implementation plan for the Policy has been agreed by all Commonwealth Departments with responsibilities for wetland management. The plan identifies specific actions, timeframes, Departmental responsibilities and performance indicators against each of the six strategies of the Policy. The implementation plan was released for comment in October 1998.

Box 2. The Natural Heritage Trust

During the past triennium the Commonwealth Government has established the Natural Heritage Trust, which is a major capital investment of AUD$1.25 billion aimed at conserving and managing Australia’s biodiversity, land, water, vegetation and sea on an ecologically sustainable basis. In partnership with the community and state agencies, the Commonwealth contributes funding through the Natural Heritage Trust to a number of programs designed to protect and restore the environment. Both the National Wetlands Program and Waterwatch Australia are funded through the Trust.

Conservation of wetlands, wetland biota and habitats is a priority under the National Wetlands Program but is also possible under most other Natural Heritage Trust programs, particularly Murray-Darling 2001, Rivercare, Coasts and Clean Seas and the National Vegetation Initiative (Bushcare). One of the outcomes sought for the Trust, including the National Wetlands Program, is the development of a strategic and holistic approach to environmental and natural resource management issues which are best addressed at a regional scale. As a funding mechanism, the Trust is encouraging integrated outcomes for land, water, native vegetation and biodiversity.

The Commonwealth has specifically allocated more than $14m to the National Wetlands Program over the first five years of the Natural Heritage Trust (1997/98-2000/01). Areas funded under this Program include Waterwatch, research and development, training, community education, management planning, inventory work, new Ramsar site nominations and onground wetland activities.

A list of projects funded under the National Wetlands Program since 1996 to assist the conservation and wise use of wetlands is at Appendix 1.

The Commonwealth Wetlands Policy is complemented by wetland policies now in place in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia, and those being developed by Queensland, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania.

Table 1 Status of State and Territory Wetlands Policies

State/Territory  
Western Australia

A Wetlands Conservation Policy for Western Australia (Government of Western Australia 1997) was launched on 23 August 1997 by Hon Cheryl Edwardes, MLA (Minister for the Environment) and Hon Kim Hames MLA (Minister for Water Resources). The Policy has 5 principal objectives and a strategy for implementation that includes 62 actions. The State Government agencies with primary responsibility for these actions are identified. A "Wetlands Coordinating Committee" has been established to coordinate implementation of the Policy and a Program of Action is being developed. It is recognised that successful implementation will require a partnership of government, private enterprise, landholders and the community at large.

New South Wales

The Wetlands Management Policy was released in 1996 and is being implemented within the Total Catchment Management Framework, overseen by the State Catchment Management Coordination Committee. The aim of the policy is ‘the ecologically sustainable use, management and conservation of wetlands in New South Wales for the benefit of present and future generations’. A subcommittee, the Wetland Action Group, has been formed to prepare and annually review a Wetland Action Plan which will detail priority areas for wetland work including community based projects and Government activities such as wetland research, monitoring, management and planning. The first Wetlands Action Plan (1998/99) was released in June 1998.

Victoria

The Victorian Biodiversity Strategy was released in December 1997. It includes a statement of the Victorian Government’s wetlands policy under the section Victoria’s Biodiversity. Directions in Management, Part II, Wetlands.

Northern Territory

The Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory commissioned a report into the conservation status of wetlands in the Northern Territory (Storrs, M.J. & Finlayson, M., 1997. Overview of the conservation status of wetlands of the Northern Territory. Supervising Scientist Report 116, Commonwealth of Australia). The draft Strategy for Conservation of the Biological Diversity of Wetlands in the Northern Territory of Australia has been developed from recommendations contained in this report. It will be made available for public comment during 1999.

Queensland

The State Government has adopted the Strategy for the Conservation and Management of Queensland's Wetlands. The Strategy sets out a definition, values and functions of wetlands, states objectives for conservation and management, and provides a series of initiatives for implementing each objective. A whole of government approach was taken in the development of the Strategy.

South Australia

The development of a South Australian Wetlands Policy is being funded by the National Wetlands Program under the Natural Heritage Trust. A draft is programmed for release by July 1999.

Tasmania

The development of a Tasmanian Wetlands Policy is being funded by the National Wetlands Program under the Natural Heritage Trust with a draft expected by mid 1999.

Australian Capital Territory

No strategy in place or currently proposed.

2.5 Has a review of legislation and practices which impact on wetlands been carried out, and if so, has this resulted in any changes which assist with implementation of the Ramsar Convention? Please describe these.

Commonwealth

Towards the end of 1997, the Commonwealth Government commenced a process for reform of Commonwealth environment legislation with a view to replacing a range of different pieces of legislation, which deal with environment protection, with new legislation. This would bring all existing legislation together as well as provide the Commonwealth with the capacity to adequately discharge its international environmental responsibilities in matters of national environmental significance. In addition, a clearer process for environmental impact assessment is intended. It is proposed that the new legislation will include specific provisions on Australia’s obligations under the Ramsar Convention, particularly on Ramsar sites. Provisions on migratory species covered by the Bonn Convention and the Japan-Australia and China-Australia Migratory Bird Agreements are also envisaged. Bilateral agreements between the Commonwealth and the State and Territory Governments are also envisaged in the new legislation and these are likely to cover matters relating to the Ramsar Convention.

A consultation paper on the proposed legislative reforms was released for public comment in early 1998. The Bill has been introduced into the Federal Parliament and is currently under consideration by the Senate Environment, Communication and the Arts Legislation Committee, who will be reporting back to the Senate later this year. The Bill is then expected to be finalised.

Western Australia

An important legislative change in Western Australia has been restructuring of the administration of management of water resources. A result of this has been the establishment, in 1996, of the Water and Rivers Commission with responsibilities that include:

  • to investigate, measure and assess the State’s water resources;
  • to allocate water resources between competing interests and to ensure sustainable use and conservation;
  • to protect water quality; and
  • to conserve and manage the State’s rivers and waterways through maintaining or enhancing their public amenity.

In 1997 the Conservation and Land Management Act 1984 was amended to establish a Marine Parks and Reserves Authority. It has a key role in developing policies on conservation and management of marine fauna and flora and marine and estuarine environments, overseeing the development of marine reserve management plans, and monitoring the implementation of management plans and the management of marine conservation reserves by the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management.

2.6 Describe the efforts made in your country to have wetlands considered in integrated land/water and coastal zone planning and management processes at the following levels:

a. national
b. provincial
c. local

All States and Territories are pursuing an integrated catchment approach to the management of natural resources, with New South Wales (1989), Victoria (1994) and South Australia (1995) each enacting catchment management legislation to ensure the appropriate level of consideration is given to catchment management. There are a range of other mechanisms in each State/Territory which also assist in the integration of land, water and coastal conservation issues in the planning process.

A number of Natural Heritage Trust (See Box 2) projects will also assist in the development of an integrated approach to wetlands management.

Table 2 State/Territory efforts to address the integration of wetlands into planning and management processes.

State/Territory  
Australian Capital Territory

The Nature Conservation Act 1980 provides the main statutory basis for conservation in the Territory although it makes no specific reference to wetlands

New South Wales

The Wetlands Management Policy is implemented within the Total Catchment Management Framework, overseen by the State Catchment Management Coordination Committee. This framework is outlined in the Catchment Management Act 1989. Catchment Management Committees provide a key mechanism for planning with Regional or Local Committees, developing specific management goals for their wetlands, based on the State strategy.

Other initiatives include a major water reform program to ensure the long term sustainability of the state’s waterways. For the first time major water decisions are made by CEOs of six agencies, environment Protection Authority, Department of Land and Water Conservation, National Parks and Wildlife Service, NSW Fisheries, Department of agriculture and Department of Urban Affairs and planning. This has resulted in considerable more ecological emphasis on policy and management of water which benefits wetlands. The reform program includes the development of environmental objectives for all waterways and the establishment of a Healthy Rivers Commission to conduct independent public inquiries in designated catchments. A further process, involving extensive community consultation and the formation of locally based River Management Committees, has been established to develop and implement river management plans. These plans will address water quality and the management of river flows to ensure that environmental objectives are met. A policy on groundwater protection for dependent ecosystems is being prepared and will address the needs of groundwater dependent wetlands.

The NSW Government also released its Coastal Policy in 1997. This included an extensive process of review and community consultation and is based on the principles of ecologically sustainable development. Specific planning mechanisms include State Environmental Planning Policy 14 - Coastal Wetlands, which provides for thorough environmental assessment of designated developments which may impact on identified coastal wetlands, as well as for restoration orders to ensure the rehabilitation of these wetlands where appropriate.

A State Environmental Planning Policy for Land and Water Management Plans is currently in preparation. This will define the environmental assessment procedures for works proposed under government agreed Natural Resource Management Contracts, including Land and Water Management Plans. Guidelines to ensure the integration of biodiversity, natural and Aboriginal cultural heritage values into Land and Water Management Plans for irrigated areas are also being developed.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory Government’s draft Strategy for Conservation of the Biological Diversity of Wetlands has amongst its objectives to integrate wetland management into regional land and resource management strategies and practice.

The Northern Territory Parks Masterplan lists wetlands amongst its "essential habitats", and sets out a vision for the protection of their natural values and biodiversity.

The Mary River Integrated Catchment Management Plan addresses a number of strategic issues in the catchment including saltwater intrusion, aquatic habitat, weeds, fire, grazing, pastures, nature conservation, clearing, water quality, erosion, the visitor experience and feral pests. This plan will be underpinned by the development of Land Use Objectives which will be undertaken in consultation with the community under the Planning Act and will enshrine the primary framework for land management in the catchment. As foreshadowed in the Mary River Integrated Catchment Management Plan, a Catchment Advisory Committee will be established under the Water Act whose role will be to advise Government on any matters relating to water resource management, including any broader catchment management issues.

Queensland

The Queensland Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resource Management Strategy includes as essential and highly desirable strategies, encouraging and promoting coordinated development and implementation of community and government-endorsed floodplain and natural wetland management plans, and development of effective techniques and "best-practice" guidelines for conservation, rehabilitation and management of in-stream and riparian habitats, wetlands and floodplains. Other catchment management plans are either investigating, or contain, similar provisions. The draft Queensland wetlands strategy encourages such provisions, both at the catchment and individual property level.

Water Allocation and Management Plans (WAMP), and Water Management Plans (WMP), developed under the Water Resources Act 1989, for key catchments in Queensland integrate the environmental requirements for in-stream and riverine wetlands with broad water resource planning and allocation. The Healthy Waterways initiative, launched in May 1998, aims to integrate whole catchment planning and rehabilitation of the rivers, to protect the Moreton Bay wetlands downstream.

Under the Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995 a State Coastal Management Plan and Regional Coastal Management Plans (subordinate legislation) are being prepared. These allow for coastal tidal, brackish and contiguous freshwater wetlands to be included in "control districts" which will have negotiated protection and management regimes. A specific policy within the State Plan is devoted to wetlands.

South Australia

The Catchment Management Act 1995 and Water Resources Act 1997 require integrated management for key water catchments across South Australia. At present, catchment water management boards have been established in the Torrens, Onkaparinga, Sturt, Northern Adelaide/ Barossa, River Murray and South East catchments with the aim of integrating surface water and groundwater management with other land management activities within the respective catchments. Wetland management is being integrated more broadly into land use planning in SA (regionally and locally) through the incorporation and recognition of their priority environmental values in revegetation and biodiversity strategies and in local government supplementary development plans eg. wetlands are the top priority environmental ecosystem in the recently released Upper South East Regional Revegetation Strategy and will be in the forthcoming Upper South East Biodiversity Strategy. Wetland Care Australia is working with Local Action Planning Committees on the River Murray through funding provided by the NHT. Seven wetland management plans are being prepared for Paringa Paddock, Gurra Gurra wetlands complex, Wachtels Lagoon, Reedy Creek, Blanchetown East wetlands complex, Morgans lagoons, Scotts Creek and Brenda Park wetlands complex.

Tasmania

Tasmania is currently preparing a draft State Policy on Integrated Catchment Management and has in place a State Coastal Policy. Both these give consideration to wetlands.

A draft Model Planning Scheme is also in preparation that will set a standard format and content for municipal planning schemes. This scheme will include a Wetlands and Waterways schedule to guide Local Government authorities when dealing with wetland issues within their municipalities.

Other relevant actions are the State of the Environment report that monitors ecological condition and extent of waterways and the planned new Water Act that will determine and allocate environmental flows.

Victoria

The Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 provides an integrated catchment management framework, facilitating the wise use of wetlands in a whole of catchment framework. As required by the Act, regional catchment strategies were prepared for the ten regional catchments in Victoria in 1996 by Catchment and Land Protection Boards.

The Water Act 1989 sets down a legislative framework for the allocation of environmental flows in rivers in Victoria. The legislation formally takes account of environmental requirements through mechanisms such as the granting of bulk entitlements for environmental purposes and ensuring that new developments in water management take account of environmental needs. The process of allocating environmental flows in Victorian rivers where diversions exist is about 75% complete.

The Victorian Coastal Strategy was released in 1997. The strategy sets out principles and strategies for sustaining marine environments, protecting significant natural and cultural features, including wetlands, providing direction for the future use of the coast and identifying suitable development areas and opportunities.

The Victoria Planning Provisions were introduced as part of a planning reform process in 1996 to simplify and standardise the planning process. The State Planning Policy Framework makes reference to the Ramsar Convention. The planning provisions provide for standard zones and overlays in local planning schemes, including an ‘environmental significance overlay’. These instruments provide a mechanism for local government to make planning provisions for the protection of wetlands on private land and are recognised as an important planning tool for Ramsar sites with private land such as Corner Inlet and Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar site.

The Heritage Rivers Act 1992 provides for the protection and management of nominated heritage rivers in line with approved recommendations of the Victorian Land Conservation Council. There are eighteen heritage rivers in Victoria. The Lake Albacutya Ramsar site is included in the Wimmera Heritage River. In 1997, draft management plans were published for each of the heritage rivers. The plans will be finalised in 1998.

The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 provides a legislative framework for the conservation of biodiversity in Victoria. It provides for the listing of threatened species and communities and the preparation of action statements for these species and communities. It also allows for the listing of potentially threatening processes. Several wetland species and communities and threatening processes relating to wetland habitats are listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. Action statements have been prepared and are being implemented for 15 threatened species and one threatening process occurring in wetlands. Action statements are currently being prepared for two additional threatened wetland species.

A Coastal Action Plan is being prepared for the Gippsland Lakes which will review the existing Gippsland Lakes Strategy (1990) addressing issues such as water quality integrated catchment management. A Coastal Action Plan is planned for Western Port which will review the existing Western Port Bay Strategy (1992).

The State Environment Protection Policy (SEPP): Waters of Victoria provides the basis for protecting water quality in all surface waters in Victoria. Schedules to the SEPP provide additional direction for specific areas. A review of the SEPP: Waters of Victoria is planned for 1998/99.

Western Australia

Government agencies have developed a number of policy initiatives aimed at increasing the consideration given to wetlands in planning and management processes. These policy tools have been supported by inter-agency and community consultation processes. Examples of these are:

Water and Rivers Commission

  • Water Sensitive Urban Design Guidelines (Whelans et al. 1993)
  • Waterways Management Authorities (eg. Swan River, Peel Inlet, Leschenault Inlet)
  • Water Allocation and Water Use Plans

Department of Environmental Protection

  • Environmental Protection Policies addressing wetland needs (Swan Coastal Plain Lakes, Peel Inlet-Harvey Estuary, Swan and Canning Rivers, South West Agricultural Zone Wetlands)
  • Policies are at present being developed for protection of Western Swamp Tortoise habitat, State marine waters and State groundwater
  • "Guidelines for Environmental Planning" which assist local and State government planning agencies to understand the environmental approval process, wherein wetlands are identified as one of the key points of environmental interest

Ministry for Planning

  • Review of Local Government planning schemes (with benefits for wetlands) that require referrals to the Environmental Protection Authority
  • A foreshore development policy is being developed
  • Perth’s Bushplan (with benefits for wetlands) - integrated planning being coordinated by the Ministry for Planning with the involvement of the Department of Conservation and Land Management, Department of Environmental Protection and the Water and Rivers Commission
  • Livable Neighbourhood - (Draft) Urban Design Code - a statutory planning policy to guide development (with benefits for wetlands)

A number of assessments have been and are being conducted to identify and quantify wetland resources. These provide data for input to integrated planning and management of wetlands. Examples include:

  • Perth Wetlands Resource Book - (Arnold 1990)
  • A Representative Marine Reserve System for Western Australia (Marine Parks and Reserves Selection Working Group 1994)
  • Important Wetlands of Western Australia (Lane et al. 1996)
  • Wetlands of the Swan Coastal Plain Volume 2A Wetland Mapping, Classification and Evaluation (Hill et al. 1996)
  • A Systematic Overview of Environmental Values of the Wetlands, Rivers and Estuaries of the Busselton-Walpole Region (Pen 1997)
  • Biodiversity (including wetlands) survey of the South West Wheatbelt Region under the Salinity Action Plan (Department of Conservation and Land Management current)

2.7 Have there been any publications produced, or practices documented, which could assist other countries to promote and improve the application of the Ramsar Wise Use of Wetlands Guidelines? Yes/No   If Yes, please provide details and copies.

Commonwealth

The key Commonwealth publication has been the release of The Wetlands Policy of the Commonwealth Government of Australia (see Box 1) .

The Commonwealth published the proceedings from the workshop Wetlands in a Dry Land: Understanding for Management (1998). This workshop, funded by the National Wetlands Research and Development Program, was aimed at promoting dialogue between the public and private sector wetlands managers and wetland researchers to translate wetland research into better on-ground management of wetlands.

The Commonwealth has also produced a range of leaflets, posters and brochures to promote awareness of Australian wetlands. Environment Australia and Wetlands International - Oceania worked collaboratively on the development and distribution of a poster depicting shorebird migration in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. The poster was printed in 4 languages, including English, and was widely distributed within the Flyway.

A quarterly publication Wetlands Australia, provides articles on wetland issues and examples of best practice in wetlands management across Australia, Oceania and Asia Pacific regions and is distributed nationally to a wide range of state and community organisations with an interest in wetlands. Wetlands Australia is a joint production between Environment Australia and the Murray Darling Basin Commission. Waterwatch Australia is producing a Waterwatch Australia Technical Manual, a national guide to community waterway monitoring. This publication will provide communities with a valuable tool to build up a picture of the health of the wetlands and waterways within their local catchments. A successful publication that the Commonwealth has produced, in the context of wise use, is the Wetlands Health Check, a simple rating test for your local wetland or waterway. The Wetlands Health Check was primarily designed for upper primary and lower secondary students but is being used increasingly by the broader community.

Many of these publications will be available on the Wetlands web site, the Commonwealth’s Internet site for all Ramsar and other wetlands information of national significance. The purpose of the website is to provide relevant information and support to everyone involved in wetlands management in Australia.

A number of specific studies on wetlands, conservation issues and flora and fauna have been done by the states and territories (see list of relevant publications at Appendix 2).

2.8 Noting COP6 Recommendation 6.14 relating to toxic chemicals and pollution, please advise of the actions taken since then "to remedy and to prevent pollution impacts affecting Ramsar sites and other wetlands" (Operative paragraph 9).

The responsibility for remedying and preventing pollution problems at individual Ramsar sites generally lies with the relevant State or Territory. There are three main Commonwealth funded programs which support the maintenance of high quality water flows. These are the National Rivercare Program, the National River Health Program and the Coasts and Cleans Seas Program. Waterwatch Australia, funded by the Commonwealth, also provides for the monitoring of local waterways by community groups (see Box 3).

The National Rivercare Program aims to ensure progress towards the sustainable management, rehabilitation and conservation of rivers outside the Murray-Darling Basin and to improve the health of these rivers. In 1997/98, the first full year of funding for the Program, there was a strong response from the community with a range of quality projects proposed. The Commonwealth provided $6.3 million for projects, including on-ground actions by community groups to improve water quality in local rivers and projects focussing on improving stormwater management as part of the water cycle.

The National River Health Program is central to the Commonwealth’s efforts to progress implementation of the environmental aspects of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Water Reform framework. Totalling $413.6 million to the year 2000-01, the program will allocate a significant portion towards environmental flow management. The goals of the National River Health Program for the monitoring and assessment of Australian rivers also apply to wetlands. A project funded under the research and development component of the National Wetlands Program seeks to determine the usefulness of applying methods recently developed as part of the Monitoring River Health Initiative to the monitoring and assessment of Australian wetlands. This project is due to finish in January 1999.

Box 3: Waterwatch Australia

Waterwatch Australia is the national program which coordinates and supports the monitoring of our waterways by the community to facilitate action to address water quality issues. Waterwatch equips local communities with the skills and knowledge to take an active role in managing their land and water. Waterwatch Australia provides funding through the Natural Heritage Trust (see Box 2) for community groups, state governments and other organisations to support community monitoring programs. There is a Waterwatch Facilitator in every State and Territory who coordinates Waterwatch activities and provides training and resources to support activities which identify and monitor the particular traits of their local waterways and to build up a picture of the health of the catchment. A network of regional coordinators assist groups to interpret their results and plan to take action to remediate damage. Waterwatch has proved that committed, well trained communities can dramatically improve the health of their waterways.

Waterwatch Australia plays a role in the monitoring of chemicals and pollution in local waterways and wetlands. Information collected through Waterwatch monitoring can lead to action that will prevent pollution impacts. In particular, Waterwatch monitoring is valuable as an early warning of potential pollution impacts on Ramsar sites. There are 4000 Waterwatch sites across Australia being regularly monitored for chemicals and pollutants. Nearly one third of Australia's Ramsar sites and/or their catchments are monitored by over 200 Waterwatch groups at approximately 600 sites. Approximately 120 Waterwatch sites within Ramsar site boundaries are monitored by over 50 Waterwatch groups. Over 150 Waterwatch groups monitor within Ramsar catchments.

Table 3 State/Territory actions taken to remedy and to prevent pollution impacts affecting Ramsar sites and other wetlands.

State/Territory  
Australian Capital Territory

The Nature Conservation Act 1980 is the primary legislative instrument for the protection of biological diversity and the management of reserved areas in the Australian Capital Territory. The A.C.T. Nature Conservation Strategy seeks to manage urban and industrial pollution so that biodiversity values of freshwater aquatic systems remain within natural limits. Key actions under the Strategy include: monitoring sources of pollution and effectiveness of water treatment; and ensuring pollution management and water treatment programs are undertaken to ensure biodiversity values are maintained.

New South Wales

The current water reforms program includes the establishment of water quality objectives for the state’s waterways and the development of river management plans to achieve those objectives. A groundwater quality policy has also been prepared. The NSW government released a Waterways Package in 1997 which includes a commitment to require local councils to produce urban stormwater management plans. A guide to the preparation of these plans was also released (Managing Urban Stormwater: Council Handbook. NSW Environment Protection Authority 1997)

Recent amendments to the Environment Operations Act have increased the power of the Environment Protection Authority to regulate pollution discharges into waterways.

Northern Territory

The Mary River Integrated Catchment Management Plan has been formulated and will be implemented by a local community-based group with Government support.

In the Arafura Swamp, on Croker Island, and in the catchments of the Daly, Finniss, Liverpool/Tompkinson, Fitzmaurice and Moyle Rivers, indigenous peoples will be the primary determinants of management prescriptions, also with Government support.

The Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist has also commenced documentation of a demonstration stream monitoring program for possible adoption by private enterprises and government regulatory agencies. This will include documentation of all planning and implementation procedures.

Queensland

The Moreton Bay Ramsar site is the Queensland site at most actual or potential risk from pollution. Recently studies have been published detailing the condition of, and issues affecting, the Bay. A Waterways Management Plan for the waterways emptying into Moreton Bay was launched as part of the "Healthy Waterways" initiative in June 1998. At the same time, the State and local governments committed to, among other initiatives, $300 million over the next 20 years for sewerage treatment works upgrades, $100 million for stormwater treatment and management, and up to $1 billion for wastewater reuse projects, in an effort to improve water quality in the waterways and western areas of Moreton Bay. Coral extraction has ceased.

Watching briefs are being maintained on Queensland’s other three sites, and management planning is progressing, which will take pollution and other issues into account. Point source pollution and discharge is regulated under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and water quality is regulated through subordinate legislation (Environmental Protection (Water) Policy 1997).

South Australia

The Environmental Protection Act 1993 is the key legislative instrument for ensuring the wetland resources of the State are not effected by pollution. Further, the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 provide management frameworks to regulate and control polluting activities that impinge upon biological and water resources.

In regard to South Australian Ramsar sites, issues of water quality and environmental flows are dealt within site management plans. At Coongie, these issues are partially being dealt with through the Draft Water Management Plan for Cooper Creek. In the Coorong, the draft Coorong and Lower Lakes Ramsar Management Plan proposes strategies to mitigate and utilise flows from the River Murray and through drainage works arising from the Upper South East Dryland Salinit and Flood Management Plan.

Tasmania

The Commonwealth is providing $3.5m in 1998/99 for the Tasmanian Regional Environment Remediation Programme which focuses on improving water quality and amenity in key rivers within Tasmania by reducing and removing sources of pollution. Funding has been provided for capital works at Orielton Lagoon, a Ramsar site in Tasmania, for remediation works to improve flushing and to divert sewage away from the site.

The State Policy on Water Quality Management came into force in 1997. It will set pollution limits in relation to the environmental values of water bodies.

Victoria

The State Environment Protection Policy: Waters of Victoria sets environmental objectives that aim to prevent toxicity in wetlands. The process of issuing discharge licences by the Environmental Protection Authority ensures compliance with the policy.

Western Australia

Potential contamination of inland and marine waters is recognised as an important environmental issue in Western Australia. Using the OECD "pressure-state-response" model, objectives and indicators have recently been established for reporting on contamination (State of the Environment Reference Group 1998).

Discharge of waste by large industrial plants is regulated by the Department of Environmental Protection under a licence system backed by punitive action for breaches of the requirements. Problems have been recognised with the historical contamination of groundwater from chemical plants and tailings ponds.

Liquid waste discharge is permitted only into sewerage systems (meeting water quality standards) or at Industrial and Biological Waste Treatment sites. An additional "Best Practice Environmental Licence" system is being considered that provides an incentive to industry to adopt environmental responsibility and improve environmental performance. A number of special licensing systems and "codes of practice" have recently been put in place to regulate waste products from small industries and businesses.

2.9 Describe what steps have been taken to incorporate wetland economic valuation techniques into natural resource planning and assessment actions.

The Wetlands Policy of the Commonwealth Government of Australia (see Box 1) includes a strategy to document and promote a range of economic, voluntary, educational and other measures to encourage wetland conservation by the private sector. In addition, it aims to document the economic importance of the Australian commercial and recreational fishing industries and their reliance on wetland habitats and establish a range of measures for the protection, rehabilitation and restoration of these areas.

The implementation of this part of the Policy is primarily through projects funded under the National Wetlands R&D Program. Private (commercial) values are often in conflict with social (recreation, conservation etc) values and as a consequence, the area and quality of wetland on private property in Australia is in decline. A project currently being funded is examining the trade-offs apparent between private and social values of wetlands. This project is due for completion in June 2000. A case study of this project involves research into the economic value of wetlands in agricultural landscapes in the South East of South Australia.

In 1997, Environment Australia and the NSW Dept of Land and Water Conservation jointly funded a project titled ‘ Multi-criteria Analysis: A research case study of the Macquarie Marshes’. The project examined the usefulness of multi-criteria analysis in assessing wetland problems where both environmental and economic objectives were concerned.

The NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation also supported, in conjunction with the NSW Farmers Association and affiliated organisations, the preparation of a report titled A Valuation of Private and Public Coastal Wetland Property Rights which considered the community’s willingness to pay for property rights, the impacts on landholders, foregone capital and government enforcement costs and valuations associated with coastal wetland conservation.

2.10 Is Environmental Impact Assessment for actions potentially impacting on wetlands required under legislation in your country? Yes/No

Commonwealth

There is no Commonwealth legislation requiring environmental impact assessments to be carried out for actions specifically affecting Ramsar sites although new environment legislation addressing this is proposed (see response to 2.5). However, the Commonwealth retains constitutional power to protect sites on the Ramsar list by, where necessary, enacting protective legislation to ensure Australia does not breach its obligations under the Convention. In addition the object of the Commonwealth Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974 is to ensure to the greatest extent practicable, that matters affecting the environment, including wetlands, to a significant extent are fully examined and taken into account in Commonwealth decision making.

The Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975 is also relevant for any wetland sites listed in the Register of the National Estate. The Act requires the Commonwealth to ensure that any actions it undertakes do not adversely affect places in the Register unless there are no feasible and prudent alternatives.

The Endangered Species Protection Act 1992 provides the legislative basis for Commonwealth responsibilities with regard to the conservation of endangered species and communities and the amelioration of the processes that threaten them. In addition, the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1975 can provide a basis for making regulations to give effect to an Agreement specified in the Schedule, which includes the Ramsar Convention (Also refer response under 2.5).

The individual States and territories are responsible for enacting legislation relating to wetlands within their jurisdiction. However, this does not diminish the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to ensure Ramsar Convention obligations are upheld. All States and Territories have nature conservation legislation which affords protection generally to some wetland dependant species of flora and fauna.

Table 4 Key mechanisms relating to Environmental Impact Assessment

Australian Capital Territory

The A.C.T. has two categories of land: National Land (Commonwealth owned and managed) and Territory Land (managed by the A.C.T. Government).

Proposals with potential to impact on National Land or Designated Areas must be referred to the National Capital Authority (NCA) for a process of works approval. If the proposal is likely to have a significant impact, the NCA has a responsibility to refer the proposal to Environment Australia under the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974 (see ‘Commonwealth’ above).

On Territory Land any proposal that calls for: a variation to the Territory Plan (ie change in land use); the granting or variation of a lease over Territory Land; a controlled activity (such as an encroachment on public land; or any design and siting proposal) is subject under the A.C.T. Land Act to consideration by the Planning Minister. If a proposal is approved, controls can be placed on the development (eg lease and development conditions, or design and siting requirements).

New South Wales

The preparation of an environmental impact statement is mandatory for designated development and activities that are likely to significantly affect the environment are required under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Other relevant mechanisms include:

  • State Environmental Planning Policy No.14 Coastal Wetlands, which provides for thorough environmental assessment of designated developments which may impact on identified coastal wetlands, as well as for restoration orders to ensure the rehabilitation of these wetlands where appropriate.
  • Threatened Species Conservation Act, which includes in its aims to ensure that the impact of any action affecting threatened species, populations and ecological communities is properly assessed.
  • Native Vegetation Conservation Act, which aims to provide for the conservation and protection of native vegetation, including wetland vegetation, on a regional basis.
Queensland

Environmental impact assessment is required for developments potentially impacting on wetlands, under the Integrated Planning Act 1997, but the definition of wetlands was interpreted narrowly under previous legislation. Guidelines and principles are currently being developed for this new legislation (which came into force in April 1998).

South Australia

The preparation of environmental impact statements is required pursuant to the Development Act 1993 for all major developments including those which impact upon wetland environments. Other legislation requires proponents to ensure that environmental impacts can be managed but the detail required in the assessment process is dependent upon the significance of the potential environmental impact. Other relevant mechanisms are the Native Vegetation Act 1991, Soil Conservation and Land Care Act 1989, Water Resources Act 1997 and the Environmental Protection Act 1993.

Tasmania

There are three pieces of legislation relating to impact assessment in Tasmania. Which Act applies depends largely on the type of proposal and the potential for ‘environmental harm’.

The Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 refers to activities which may cause environmental harm and which require a permit. Proposals are assessed by local municipal councils.

The Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 differentiates between ‘serious’ and ‘material’ environmental harm and is focussed on polluting activities. Proposals are assessed by a Board which conducts an environmental assessment while the Council assesses planning issues. The Board can direct Councils to refuse or grant a permit (with or without conditions).

Activities which are of State significance are addressed under the State Policies and Projects Act 1993. Projects are assessed under a special form of integrated assessment taking the place of all other government approvals processes.

Victoria

Victoria has a process for environmental impact assessment which operates at three levels:

  • planning provisions and approvals under the Planning and Environment Act 1987
  • Environmental Protection Authority works approvals under the Environment Protection Act 1970
  • Environmental effects statements for certain proposed works under the Environmental Effects Act 1978
Western Australia

Development proposals in Western Australia require environmental impact assessment to ensure that environmental impacts can be managed. The detail required in the assessment process is dependent on the significance of the potential environmental impacts. In reviewing a proposal the assessment specifically examines if there will be any adverse impact on the integrity, function and environmental values of wetlands. Public involvement is considered to be fundamental to the assessment process. Guidelines to the assessment process are available for developers and the community. A position paper on "wetland protection" is being drafted.

2.11 Is wetland restoration and rehabilitation considered a priority in your country? Yes/No.  If Yes, describe the actions that have been taken to identify wetlands in need of these actions and to mobilise resources for restoration or rehabilitation.

The Commonwealth Wetlands Policy (see Box 1) seeks to have all Commonwealth wetland areas, where rehabilitation will be ecologically advantageous and feasible, identified and to have such works factored into management plans for these areas. One project which will assist this commitment is the Register of Wetland Restoration Projects in Australia and New Zealand. The review of wetland restoration efforts has been undertaken as part of an international register of restoration projects and expertise being organised by Wetlands International’s Specialist Group on Wetland Restoration. The second stage report for the Register is in preparation and due for completion in late 1998.

Northern Territory

The Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (eriss) undertook a vulnerability assessment of wetlands in the Alligator Rivers region to climate change and sea level rise. This includes Kakadu National Park and adjacent important floodplain wetlands. The results are presented in the report Vulnerability assessment of predicted climate change and sea level rise in the Alligator Rivers Region, Northern Territory, Australia (Bayliss et al. 1998). The report identified areas at risk from such global change events and recommended superior monitoring and data management approaches. As a consequence, eriss received funding for one year to establish a coastal monitoring node and to involve stakeholders from the region.

Western Australia

Box 4 Salinity Action Plan for Western Australia

Increasing salinity in the southwest of Western Australia is considered to be one of the State’s most critical environmental problems. The problem has been caused by the replacement of most of the native vegetation with agricultural crops and pastures. In 1996 the Western Australian Government completed a Salinity Action Plan (Agriculture Western Australia et al. 1996). One of the four aims of this plan is to "protect and restore key water resources and high value wetlands.

As part of the Salinity Action Plan a Wetlands and Natural Diversity Recovery Program is being established that will target a minimum of six key catchments over the next ten years to ensure that "critical and regionally significant natural areas, particularly wetlands are protected". Key activities being undertaken by the Department of Conservation and Land Management as part of the program are: implementation of a recovery plan for Lake Toolibin Ramsar site, and preparation and implementation of recovery plans for Lake Muir-Unicup and the Lake Warden Ramsar site.

Wetland creation and restoration are recognised in the principal objectives of the Wetlands Conservation Policy for Western Australia (Government of Western Australia 1997).

Wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain that would benefit from rehabilitation have been identified as part of an assessment of management options (Hill et al. 1993). This has encouraged developers to integrate wetland restoration into development proposals. A comprehensive guide to wetland rehabilitation has been produced by a community group with funding from a major mining company (Godfrey et al. 1992).

The creation of wetlands has been integrated into the rehabilitation of clay extraction pits and sand mines in the south-west of Western Australia. Leading examples are; the RGC wetlands project at Capel involving the sand mining company and Birds Australia, and the rehabilitation of Alcoa’s clay extraction pits at Baldivis.

The Commonwealth is also supporting a number of community based wetland rehabilitation projects through the National Wetlands Program’s community grants component (see Appendix 1).

New South Wales

Rehabilitation of degraded wetlands, their habitats and processes is one of the key principles of the NSW Wetlands Management Policy. With funding from the National Wetlands Program and the Department of Land and Water Conservation, NSW Fisheries, other state agencies and community groups have prepared a Review of Wetland Rehabilitation Issues in NSW. The review included considerable community and scientific input and has developed recommendations on issues such as funding, communication, site prioritisation and other project management needs.

Major wetland rehabilitation efforts are underway at the Kooragang Wetland Rehabilitation Project, Yarrahapinni Wetland Rehabilitation Project, Tuckean Swamp project, Clarence Floodplain Project and Hexham Swamp Rehabilitation Project. Most of these areas affected by past flood mitigation activities were significant estuarine fish habitats.

The Water Reform program in NSW represents a major policy change focussed on rehabilitation of rivers and their dependent ecosystems. It aims to rehabilitate wetlands dependent on flows as well as protecting remaining wetlands by ensuring their flows remain.

South Australia

Significant wetland rehabilitation has occurred, often through simple modification of existing structures or installation of new structures, at the following wetlands: Loveday wetland Complex, Pilby Creek, Akuna Station, Banrock Station, Tolderol Wetland Reserve and Lake Merreti.

2.12 Describe what actions have been taken to "encourage active and informed participation of local communities, including indigenous people, and in particular women, in the conservation and wise use of wetlands." (refer to Actions 2.7.1-4 in the Strategic Plan).

The Wetlands Policy of the Commonwealth Government of Australia (see Box 1) includes a number of specific actions which support this process, including encouraging the adoption of management practices that use and demonstrate the traditional wetlands management knowledge of indigenous Australians and encouraging rural and urban Australians to be involved in wetlands activities.

The National Wetlands Program provides funding for a range of projects which are specifically intended to empower indigenous people to actively participate in management and conservation of wetlands. For example, the Top End Indigenous People’s Wetlands Program, which commenced in 1996, aims to consult with traditional aboriginal custodians to assist communities to prepare wetlands management plans. In addition, the Program is supporting other projects in the Northern Territory which focus on facilitating community consultations on wetland planning.

The Waterwatch program (see Box 3) also provides funding for community groups, state governments and other organisations to become actively involved in the conservation and wise use of wetlands. Through waterway monitoring, Waterwatch groups develop knowledge and skills that enable them to make an effective contribution to the management of wetlands.

 Table 5 Involvement of community groups in the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

State/Territory  
New South Wales

The National Parks and Wildlife Service have prepared a draft Strategy for the Nomination of Ramsar sites on Private Land in NSW. The document outlines four strategies for promoting the listing of Ramsar sites on private land in NSW and lists actions for each of these strategies. Management options are identified and a sample of questions and answers on the Ramsar Convention and implications of Ramsar listing for landholders is included.

The State Wetlands Action Group (SWAG) includes participation of local communities through Catchment Management Committee representatives. SWAG also administers a Wetlands Action Fund which provides funding for local communities to implement wetlands conservation and rehabilitation projects which are in accordance with the NSW Wetlands Management Policy and SWAG guidelines.

The NSW water reform program has included extensive community consultation and participation in the development of interim environmental objectives for water quality and environmental flows provision. Part of the consultation program was developed with, and targeted, indigenous communities. All River Management Committees established under the water reform program aim to have participants from local communities including indigenous communities.

Management plans for national parks, nature reserves, Ramsar sites and river valleys all have a public consultation component.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is preparing a CD rom wetland database for rivers and wetlands which will include a bibliography of information for management of wetlands and rivers. This will assist local communities including Catchment and River Management Committees, as well as students, agencies and landholders to access information relevant to management. The first catchment to be developed is the Macquarie, which includes the Macquarie Marshes Ramsar site. As funding allows, the database will be developed for other catchments throughout the State.

A scientific workshop, organised by the Paroo River Association and the National Parks and Wildlife Service was held in July 1997 at Hungerford (on the QLD/NSW border). The Association is comprised largely of local landholders who convened the workshop as a way of bringing together the expertise of scientists and landholders and acknowledge the significance of the wetlands of the Paroo. The proceedings will be published as a book and deal with ecological, social and economic issues as water resource development is considered for this highly significant river system.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service, in co-operation with the World Wide Fund for Nature Australia, liaising with landholders in the Gwydir region to develop a Memorandum of Understanding for the management of the wetlands.

Northern Territory

The Mary River Integrated Catchment Management Plan has been formulated and will be implemented by a local community-based group with Government support. Support is provided to the Lower Mary River Landcare Group as requested.

The Northern Land Council (NLC) and other agencies are actively assisting local aboriginal communities to develop management prescriptions for their wetlands and have provided training at the Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (eriss). NLC and eriss have also drafted an information document for wetland management planning for one Aboriginal association.

NLC and eriss also assisted the Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation to prepare a paper for the IUCN/Ramsar project on developing guidelines for involving local communities in wetland management. The paper was presented at a meeting in Japan organised by the Kushiro International Wetland Centre.

For the past two years the Northern Territory University and eriss have held a two week wetland management training module as part of a MSc course. This course includes general wetland ecology and management issues, and involves ten to fifteen students at a time.

Queensland

Local communities have been actively involved in the management planning process for Ramsar sites where such plans are being developed. Local communities have been consulted regarding the proposal to list the Great Sandy Strait as a Ramsar site. Community involvement is also facilitated through Catchment Coordinating Committees (Integrated Catchment Management), Waterwatch and in public consultation and Community Advisory Committees in the development of Water Management Plans.

South Australia

Local communities have been empowered to contribute to wetland management through Landcare initiatives and the local action planning process. These processes have universally recognised the value of wetlands and made financial resources available to actively manage and rehabilitate wetlands. The South Australian Government has a policy to encourage joint management of reserves with indigenous communities. As part of the Ramsar management planning processes at Coongie Lakes and the Coorong local indigenous communities have been consulted, briefed and included in formulating plans for management. Final release of these plans will confirm the government's commitment to the joint management policy.

Victoria

A current management planning process for all ten Ramsar sites in Victoria includes opportunities for public consultation and comment on draft plans. Management plans prepared for other wetlands in the conservation reserve network and for wetland forests covered by the forest management planning process similarly provide opportunities for public consultation and comment.

Public involvement in wetlands management is also facilitated through membership on Catchment Management Authorities, Coastal Boards and public consultation in the preparation of strategies, business and action plans. Various stakeholder groups such as the Victorian Wetlands Trust, Birds Australia, the Victorian Field and Game Association and friends groups for local wetlands continue to take an active interest in wetland conservation and management.

Western Australia

The largest-scale involvement of local communities has been in the "landcare" movement in agricultural regions of the south-west of Western Australia. This has involved the self empowerment of land owners and community members to address land and water conservation issues in their local catchments. The key concern has been the rise of saline ground water resulting in declining agricultural productivity, damage to infrastructure and death of lowland, including wetland, vegetation.

Four of the nine Ramsar listed wetlands in Western Australia have management advisory committees and each of these has local community representatives.

The State’s Wetlands Coordinating Committee has two members from non-government, community-based organisations.

The major estuarine waterways in the south-west have formal management authorities which include local community representatives.

The largest community based wetland monitoring project is Ribbons of Blue, the Western Australian Waterwatch Program. The program involves 106 groups monitoring 267 wetlands (many of which are rivers or streams). It is supported by 11 part time coordinators. Other community based monitoring projects focus on frogs and waterbirds.

2.13 Describe what actions have been taken to "encourage involvement of the private sector in the conservation and wise use of wetlands" (refer to Actions 2.8.1-4 in the Strategic Plan). Has this included a review of fiscal measures (taxation arrangements, etc.) to identify and remove disincentives and introduce incentives for wetlands conservation and wise use? Yes/No   If yes, please provide details.

Refer also to response to 2.12

The Commonwealth Wetlands Policy (see Box 1) includes a strategy to document and promote a range of economic, voluntary, educational and other measures to encourage wetland conservation activities by the private sector. In addition, the Policy is undertaking a broader review of economic policy instruments for biodiversity conservation outside protected areas to ensure that, where feasible and where consistent with national taxation and fiscal policy, there are incentives and, conversely, no disincentives for wetland conservation activities by private landowners.

Australia has provided a commitment to the use of incentive measures through a range of initiatives following the establishment of the Natural Heritage Trust (See Box 2). The Bushcare program, for example, will provide incentives for land users to conserve remnant vegetation outside the reserve system. This will involve support for innovative combinations of rate relief (working through local government), management agreements and covenants, direct subsidies for fencing and technical support to extend best practice management of bushland remnants. These incentives will be put in place through the Natural Heritage Trust Bushcare community grants program, a number of targeted initiatives and through strategic alliances with industry, local government and non-government organisations.

A Working Group on Nature Conservation on Private Land, which reports to the ANZECC Standing Committee on Conservation, has been addressing best practice initiatives for nature conservation on private land, including wetlands, to determine the critical factors for success.

Table 6 Involvement of the private sector in the conservation and wise use of wetlands

State/Territory  
New South Wales

Over the past 2 years, Environment Australia has supported the National Parks and Wildlife Service to prepare a Strategy for the Nomination of Ramsar Sites on Private Land in NSW. A Draft Strategy is complete and it provides a range of strategies to promote and assist with the voluntary nomination of Ramsar sites on private land, together with a series of questions and answers to clarify what Ramsar listing means for private landholders.

The Strategic Plan Action 2.8.1 ‘Encourage the private sector to give increased recognition to wetland attributes, functions and values when carrying out projects affecting wetlands’ is addressed through the planning mechanisms described in the responses to questions 2.5 and 2.6.

Action 2.8.2 ‘Encourage the private sector to apply the Wise Use Guidelines when executing development projects affecting wetlands’ is being addressed through the preparation of the NSW Wetlands Management Policy - Management Guidelines by the Department of Land and Water Conservation and through the planning mechanisms described in responses to questions 2.5 and 2.6.

Actions 2.8.3 ‘Encourage the private sector to work in partnership with site managers to monitor the ecological character of wetlands’ and 2.8.4 ‘Involve the private sector in the management of wetlands through participation in wetland management committees’ have not been addressed at a State wide scale but there are examples of these actions being implemented at regional/local level.

There has not been a specific review of fiscal measures affecting wetlands conservation in NSW. There has however been an amendment to the Local Government Act that has removed areas subject to Voluntary Conservation Agreements under the National Parks and Wildlife Act from the ratings base (ie made these areas exempt from Local Government rates). A current project funded under the Natural Heritage Trust is reviewing incentives and disincentives for wetland rehabilitation and will report during 1998.

An example of private sector involvement in wetland rehabilitation include over $700,000 of corporate sponsorship of the Kooragang Wetland rehabilitation Project by Port Waratah Coal Services, Transgrid, Brambles Industrial Services, BHP, Metromix Steelstone and Koppers.

Northern Territory

The Territory encourages and supports the sustainable harvest of estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) eggs and adults. Training of aboriginal landowners and other commercial operators is provided, and landowners receive payment on each individual egg or animal harvested. This is designed to provide an incentive for the good management of wetlands.

Queensland

Through Land and Water Management Plans and Property Management Plans, the private sector is encouraged to provide for the conservation and management of wetlands within the overall planning for their business. Nature Refuges and other voluntary conservation agreements, declared under the Nature Conservation Act 1994, are promoted to provide protection for areas of high conservation value on privately owned land. A "Land for Wildlife" voluntary scheme is currently being trialled. Incentive schemes are being actively explored in collaboration with the Commonwealth. Community based catchment planning and management through regional plans, ICM and Landcare takes wetlands conservation into account.

South Australia

Private sector management of wetland ecosystems is encouraged and supported to achieve positive environmental. The Heritage Agreement Grant Scheme provides assitance with planning and on-ground works for areas of remnant vegetation and Landcare groups in South Australia work with private landholders to resolve issues of wetland rehabilitation and biodiversity conservation. The Wetlands and Wildlife Trust and BRL Hardy manage significant private wetland areas with assistance from NGOs (Wetland Care Australia) and government.

Victoria

Land for Wildlife is a voluntary program that assists private landholders in conserving biodiversity (including wetlands) by providing advice and a forum for education and information sharing through newsletters, field days, technical notes and extension activities.

Trust for Nature (Victoria) is a statutory corporation that has a responsibility to protect significant vegetation, and some wetlands, on private land. It achieves this by negotiating the placement of voluntary protective covenants on private land, purchasing and managing properties including covenanting and on-selling.

There are about 700 Landcare groups in Victoria. Landcare groups work together to resolve issues on private land such as land protection, pest plant and animal problems, environmental restoration and biodiversity conservation.

Western Australia

In Western Australia the private sector has been encouraged to give increased recognition to wetland attributes, functions and values in the following ways:

  • Community-based catchment planning and management by rural landholders (e.g. Salinity Action Plan, Natural Heritage Trust, Landcare, Bushcare, Demonstration Catchments in the Avon Valley) has been given recognition and support by the State Government. Though mainly focused on maintaining farm productivity, increasingly this is giving attention to regional hydrology and rehabilitation of wetlands
  • Establishment of "catchment management centres" (e.g. Pinjarra) to assist the development of local land management solutions to environmental degradation (Bradby 1997)
  • Preparation and distribution of booklets on planning for wetlands (guidelines for environmental planning, water sensitive designs for urban developments)
  • Development of guidelines to assist the mining industry in the construction and management of tailings ponds to minimise ground and surface water contamination and impacts on wildlife

Examples of private sector involvement in wetlands in Western Australia:

  • Alcoa of Australia: funding for "Rivers, Wetlands and Habitats" partnerships for community-based wetland rehabilitation and management on the Swan Coastal Plain, which have involved local communities, landholders and Local and State Government agencies
  • Alcoa of Australia: support for the "Chain of Diamonds" project, conducted by Greening Western Australia, which involves conducting workshops on wetland management and rehabilitation to community groups in the Perth area
  • Bunnings: support for wetland education and monitoring activities (Ribbons of Blue) in the Blackwood River catchment
  • Bank West Landscope Conservation Visa Card Trust Account: Funding from the Trust Account has been used to support fencing of Pumpkin Springs

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 3
To raise awareness of wetland values and functions throughout the world and at all levels

3.1 Is there a government-run national programme for Education and Public Awareness in your country which focuses on, or includes, wetlands? Yes/No?   If yes, what are the priority actions under this programme and who are the target groups? (Refer also to question 9.4)

The Waterwatch Australia program (see Box 3) fulfils a key role in promoting education and public awareness of wetlands. The priority actions for the program are to foster ownership and responsibility for the health of waterways throughout the community, to facilitate effective partnerships between all sectors of the community for healthy waterways and to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of healthy waterways in the general community. Waterwatch targets local governments, regional organisations, industry, community groups and individuals.

The National Wetlands Program funds a range of education and awareness raising activities (see Box 2).

3.2 Describe the steps taken to have wetlands issues and Ramsar’s Wise Use principles included as part of the curricula of educational institutions. Has this been at all levels of education (primary, secondary, tertiary and adult)? Please give details.

The development and implementation of a targeted national community awareness and education program is a specific goal of the Commonwealth Wetlands Policy. In response, Waterwatch Australia (see Box 3), a community based water quality and aquatic biodiversity monitoring and education program, has developed a curriculum project which is designed to encourage schools throughout Australia to adopt an action planning approach to caring for catchments using the resources and framework provided by Waterwatch Australia.

A number of projects funded under the National Wetlands Program have been designed to encourage teachers to incorporate wetland messages including; the value of wetlands, wetlands and waterways as important habitat and the concept of the wise use of wetlands, into their teaching programs. Three of these projects include the Wetlands Health Check, a guide to rating your local wetland or waterway, the Wetlands Challenge an internet game designed for upper primary and Murder Under the Microscope an internet game for upper primary and senior secondary. Wetlands Health Check was an insert in The Double Helix, a CSIRO publication that has a circulation of 40,000 students in Australia and New Zealand. Wetlands Challenge was delivered on the internet and heavily promoted to all schools in the Murray-Darling Basin. Murder Under the Microscope is a high profile, multidisciplinary activity, teaching students about catchment management and waterway health issues. In 1998 the theme for Murder Under the Microscope was wetlands. Through education network broadcasts, internet and videos, Murder reached 600 schools across Australia.

Northern Territory

A Centre for Tropical Wetlands Management was established in 1997 at the Northern Territory University to assist in the coordination of wetland research in the Northern Territory and establish partnerships with external agencies involved in the research and management of wetland environments. The Centre includes federal and Territory agencies as well as members of the university science faculty.

Western Australia

Recent revisions to the primary and secondary school curricula have enabled schools to more readily use wetland educational products developed externally, e.g. by government agencies. The Water Corporation of Western Australia and the Water and Rivers Commission have been particularly active in developing these products.

Queensland

Primary and secondary school curricula include wetlands modules in their environmental awareness and geography areas. The Education Department runs several Environmental Education Centres, and some of these specialise in wetlands (mainly tidal) education programs. Three Queensland universities have within their environmental studies faculties research centres and education programs specialising in tropical freshwater, freshwater and instream research and marine biology (including tidal wetlands).

New South Wales

A State Wetlands Action Group was established under the NSW Wetlands Management Policy to develop annual Action Plans for implementation of the Policy. The Group is chaired by a representative from a scientific institution and includes representatives from government agencies (Department of Land and Water Conservation, Environment Protection Authority, National Parks and Wildlife Service, NSW Fisheries, Department of Urban Affairs and Planning, State Forests, Royal Botanic Gardens), and non-government organisations (2 from Catchment Management Committees, 1 from Nature Conservation Council, 2 from user/landholder representatives, 1 indigenous representative, 1 local government).

Establishment of a group of natural resource agencies to overview major policy issues relevant to water and its management has meant that the issue of wetland conservation has a much higher focus than in the past. Chief Executive Officers regularly meet to determine issues relevant to management and protection of river flows and improvement of water quality in New South Wales.

The Shortland Wetlands Centre Education program, supported by the NSW Department of Education and Training, delivers, throughout the year, wetland education programs to 9000 students and distributes information to 500 teachers and 50 secondary schools. The Awabakal Field Studies Centre based at the Wetlands Centre runs several education initiatives throughout the year.


Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 4
To reinforce the capacity of institutions in each Contracting Party to achieve conservation and wise use of wetlands.

4.1 Describe the mechanisms in place, or being introduced, to increase cooperation between the various institutions responsible for actions which can have an impact on the conservation and wise use of wetlands. If one of the mechanisms is a National Ramsar/Wetlands Committee, please describe its composition, functions and modus operandi.

Refer to responses to General Objective 1 and 2.

Commonwealth-State/Territories Interaction

A National Wetlands Advisory Committee was established in 1995 to ensure the broad range of community views was taken into account in the development of the Commonwealth Wetlands Policy (see Box 1). The Committee’s members were drawn from a broad spectrum of community, conservation, industry and fishing interest groups. The relevant components of the Commonwealth Government’s Wetlands Policy are now being implemented through Natural Heritage Trust Partnership Agreements.

The Natural Heritage Trust Partnership Agreements, between the Commonwealth and the States, are agreed at Prime Minister and Premier level and encompass all relevant government agencies in each State with environmental management responsibilities. The lead agency for implementing the partnership agreements in each State are responsible for ensuring a close level of cooperation between government institutions responsible for wetland management.

At a more fundamental level, the ANZECC Wetlands and Migratory Shorebirds Taskforce has an agreed work program, based on the partnership agreements, and the ANZECC agencies in each State/Territory are responsible for liaising as necessary with other institutions to ensure coordinated effort on wetlands.

Western Australia

A Wetlands Coordinating Committee has been established under the Wetlands Conservation Policy for Western Australia. The committee is chaired by the Department of Conservation and Land Management and includes representatives from: scientific institutions (1), non-government conservation organisations (2), Local Government (1), Water and Rivers Commission (1), Agriculture WA (1), Department of Environmental Protection (1), Ministry for Planning (1) and an additional member from the Department of Conservation and Land Management.

4.2 Of the following, indicate which have been undertaken:

a. a review to identify the training needs of institutions and individuals concerned with the conservation and wise use of wetlands Yes/No? If yes, please indicate the major findings of the review.

b. a review to identify training opportunities for these people both within your country and in other countries. Yes/No?

c. the development of training modules or a training programme specifically for wetland managers. If yes, please give details.

d. people from your country have gained wetland-related training either within or outside the country. Yes/No? If yes, please give details.

Refer to response to General Objective 1

Refer to response to 3.2

Tri-national Wetlands Co-operative Program

Australia is involved in the development of an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Republic of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia to enhance cooperation under the Tri-national Program (see Box 5). The development of the MOU, which is being facilitated by World Wide Fund for Nature, will assist in the conservation of wetlands in the Wasur National Park of Indonesia, Tonda Wildlife Management Area of Papua New Guinea and Kakadu National Park of Australia. The MOU will facilitate the co-ordination of training and increase understanding of management issues shared by the three areas. 

Box 5 Tri-national Wetlands Cooperative Program

Under the Tri-national Wetlands Cooperative Program, Australia is funding the World Wide Fund for Nature to provide practical training for on-ground wetland managers in Kakadu National Park in Australia, Wasur National Park in Indonesia and Tonda Wildlife Management Area in Papua New Guinea. The training will assist wetland managers to address issues common to the three sites such as fire management, tourism, controlling feral animals and introduced pest species. The initial phase of the project has seen the development of a training program, which was formulated with input from on-ground wetland managers of the three areas. The second phase of the project, which will commence in September 1998 with continuing support from Environment Australia, has two key aims: to implement the training program between the three parks for wetlands managers and formulate a co-operative management arrangement to facilitate staff training and exchange of expertise, particularly in wetlands research and management. A three way agreement between Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea is being considered which would formalise the cooperative arrangements initiated under the project. The Training Program has been prepared based on a series of field workshops conducted in each of the three countries with on-ground wetland managers and local people.

Wetlands International Oceania, through its partnership with Environment Australia, produced a shorebird training manual which has been distributed mainly throughout China within the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. This Manual which includes several separate learning modules is designed to raise the level of understanding and awareness of conservation issues relating to shorebirds and information on the identification and study of shorebirds.

A wetlands training programme will be run out of the Northern Territory University and will concentrate on Tropical Wetlands management issues. The training programme will build on the current module on tropical wetland management, ensuring that Australia continues to advance its expertise in the protection, conservation and understanding of tropical wetlands. The program will facilitate access by wetland management officials from the Asia-Pacific Region, with courses to be offered to participants in 1999.

Another training innovation is the development of the Virtual Ramsar Site. This project, jointly funded through the Natural Heritage Trust, contributions from the Ramsar Bureau and the Bicentennial Trust in Sydney, is envisaged to be an Internet based education facility which will focus on the wetlands of Bicentennial Park and their management. The increasing use of the internet medium both in Australia and internationally would make this a useful tool for raising awareness of wetlands and their management. The focus on Bicentennial Park adjacent to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games also increases the profile of this site. The primary target groups are students, teachers, community groups and Park visitors.


Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 5
To ensure the conservation of all sites included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar List).

5.1 Of the Ramsar sites in your country, how many have formal management plans:

a. being prepared? 28
b. fully prepared?
c. being implemented?
    13

Please indicate in the attached table of Ramsar sites which sites these are and what category they fall into.

Refer to Appendix 3.

5.2 Of the management plans referred to above, which ones have included a monitoring scheme or programme to allow changes in ecological character to be detected? Please indicate this in the attached table of Ramsar sites also.

Refer to Appendix 3.

5.3 Has there been a change in the ecological character (either positive or negative) at any of your Ramsar sites or is this likely to occur in the near future? Yes/No. If Yes, please give details.

Refer to Appendix 4.

5.4 In the case of Montreux Record Ramsar sites where the Management Guidance Procedure has been applied, what is the status of the implementation of the MGP report recommendations? What is the expected time-frame for removing the site from the Montreux Record?

Australia has no sites listed on the Montreux Record.

In relation to the Ramsar Convention’s Montreux Record, the Commonwealth and the State/Territory Governments have agreed, under the Natural Heritage Trust Partnership Agreements, that the preparation of management plans for all Australian Ramsar sites is a major priority. The preparation and implementation of management plans is considered to be a more appropriate action than Montreux listing of sites.

5.5 For those countries referred to in COP6 Recommendations 6.17.1-4, "Ramsar sites in the Territories of Specific Contracting Parties", please provide advice on the actions that have been taken in response to the issues raised at that time.

Recommendation 6.17.4 read:

All Australian governments should demonstrate significant progress towards achievement of the obligations undertaken in Ramsar Convention Recommendation 6.17.4 by the meeting of the contracting parties to the Convention in May 1999. They should implement comprehensive, coordinated strategies to:
- restore environmental flows;
- reverse the threat of rising saline groundwater;
- prevent the introduction of exotic species by instituting public environmental impact assessments;
- ensure the long term conservation of peat wetlands and nominate Ramsar sites whose sustainability is threatened to the Montreux Record watch list of internationally threatened wetlands.

Refer also to response to 6.4

Environmental Flows

The Commonwealth is committed to the conservation and protection of inland waterways, aquatic ecosystems, wetlands and water supplies. At the National level, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has agreed to a range of reforms designed to arrest the widespread degradation of Australia's water resources which are to be fully implemented by 2001 and which are tied to the National Competition Policy Agreement. Under this Agreement, implementation and continued observance of COAG water reforms will be a requirement for States and Territories to receive Competition Payments.

Critical environmental water issues identified in the Water Reform Framework include: the establishment of environmental flow requirements; strategies for reducing withdrawals in over allocated systems; support for integrated catchment management approaches; sustainability of new water resource developments; improvement in approaches to town water and sewage disposal to sensitive environments; and investigation of the ramifications of greater reuse of wastewater and stormwater.

The Government recognises that high quality river health outcomes can only be achieved by all stakeholders at all levels working together. As part of the Natural Heritage Trust, the Government has put in place a range of mechanisms to address river health, environmental flows and salinity at catchment, regional, and river basin scales.

The Macquarie Marshes Water Management Plan (1996) has since been adopted and, together with river flow rules adopted in 1998 on all regulated river systems in NSW, should ensure better provision of water for the maintenance of associated wetlands systems.

Conservation of Peatlands

In support of peat conservation, The Wetlands Policy of the Commonwealth Government of Australia directs Commonwealth agencies to consider alternatives to peat harvesting and to "determine the impacts of the peat harvesting industry in Australia and recommend appropriate steps... such as the use of artificial plant propagation media in all Commonwealth-run and funded activities and projects".

Environment Australia sponsored the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service to prepare a document entitled Sphagnum Moss - Sustainable Use and Management which provides background information on Sphagnum populations in Australia and includes a code of practice for its sustainable harvesting. A National Reserve System Program project, funded under the Natural Heritage Trust, is reviewing the conservation and reservation status of sphagnum peatlands in south-eastern Australia.

Consistent with Recommendation 6.17.4, Australia listed Ginini Flats in the Australian Capital Territory, as a Ramsar site in 1996. Ginini Flats includes well developed peat soils up to two metres deep beneath areas of wet heath and bog. More recently, through the National Wetlands Program, Environment Australia provided initial funding to the Tasmanian Government to survey and prepare an inventory of peatlands in the State’s northwest. Environment Australia is supporting efforts to conserve Wingecarribee Swamp in New South Wales and provided input to the State’s Inquiry which recommended the cessation of peat mining, and the designation of the area as a nature reserve.


Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 6
To designate for the Ramsar List those wetlands which meet the Convention’s criteria, especially wetland types still under-represented in the List and transfrontier wetlands.

6.1 Has a national inventory of wetlands been prepared for your country? Yes/No.

No

If no, are there plans for this to be done? Yes/No.

Yes. The Commonwealth and State and Territory governments have agreed, under the Natural Heritage Trust Partnership Agreements, to the development of a national wetland inventory. The inventory will be assembled from complementary State/Territory/Commonwealth wetland databases. The ANZECC Wetlands and Migratory Shorebirds Taskforce is aiming to have a national wetlands inventory substantially completed by the year 2000.

Where a national inventory exists please provide details of when it was finalised, where it is kept and what information it contains.

The development of a National Inventory is supported by a contract under the National Wetland Program with the Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (eriss). This contract is aimed at developing protocols for national approaches for wetland inventory and monitoring. This project will provide five reports covering:

  • Review of the extent of wetland data held by each state/territory.
  • Review of the technological options for wetland inventory.
  • Review of early and rapid warning systems for monitoring wetlands.
  • Draft protocols for undertaking a national wetland inventory.
  • Draft protocols for storing wetland inventory and monitoring information.

6.2 Does there exist a list or directory of "important" wetlands for your country or region? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details of when it was finalised, where it is kept, what criteria for "important" were used, and the types of information it contains.

Australia has produced two editions of A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia. The Directory provides summary information on the ecology and management related issues affecting Australia’s most significant wetlands. The Directory was the result of a cooperative project between the Commonwealth and each of the State/Territory Governments.

Nearly 800 wetlands sites are included in the Directory, covering almost 25 million hectares. A wide range of wetland types are featured, including coral reefs, seagrass meadows, karst systems and peat bogs. The Directory uses criteria for determining nationally important wetlands which have been approved by the ANZECC Standing Committee on Conservation.

Australian Wetlands may be considered ‘nationally important’ when they meet at least one of the following criteria:

1. It is a good example of a wetland type occurring within a biogeographic region of Australia

2. It is a wetland which plays an important ecological or hydrological role in the natural functioning of a major wetland system/complex.

3. It is a wetland which is important as the habitat for animal taxa at a vulnerable stage in their life cycles, or provides a refuge when adverse conditions such as drought, prevail.

4. The wetland supports 1% or more of the national population of any native plant or animal taxa.

5. The wetland supports native plant or animal taxa or communities which are considered endangered or vulnerable at the national level.

6. The wetland is of outstanding historical or cultural significance.

For each site listed in the Directory the following information is provided: location, area, elevation, wetland type (based on Ramsar Convention types), site description, site significance, land tenure, current land use, disturbances or threats, conservation measures taken, management authority and jurisdiction.

The Directory is widely used by wetland managers, governments, industry and the community in the conservation and wise use management of wetlands in Australia. The Directory has previously only been available in hard copy, with the second edition being almost 1000 pages in length. Australia is now working on a third edition of the Directory that will include many additional sites. The third edition will be available in a digital database form, as well as being accessible through the internet. Importantly the map-based referencing of each wetland will be significantly improved.

6.3 If it is known, please provide an estimate of the area of wetlands in your country at present and any information on rates of loss or conversion to other activities. If this information is available, please indicate what definition of "wetland" was used.

The total area of wetlands listed in A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia is almost 25 million hectares or 250,000 square kilometres. There is not yet a national wetlands inventory from which to determine the total area of wetlands in Australia.

The definition of wetlands currently being used in Australia is consistent with that used for the Ramsar Convention.

Queensland

Permanently inundated freshwater wetlands cover 1,183,309 ha,

Intertidal wetlands (mangroves, salt flats and foreshore flats, but not including seagrass beds below LWM) cover 1,027,030 ha

Land subject to inundation (ie floodplains, ephemeral lakes etc.) covers 4,900,615 ha

Total nearly 71,000sq km. (Note: these statistics are derived from AUSLIG Geodata @1:250,000 scale, which may not be recent; therefore are indicative only.) This equates to approximately 4.1% of Queensland (but only 0.7% or about 12,000sq km, is permanently inundated).

No rate of loss or conversion is readily available as no comprehensive studies have been funded. Anecdotal evidence suggests that at least 80% of wetlands in discrete areas affected by intensive agricultural activity and urbanisation have been degraded. (This is mainly confined to southeastern Queensland, coastal floodplains and some inland intensive agriculture areas, for example, the Darling Downs and near Emerald in central Queensland -5-10% of the State). The most widespread activity in Queensland, extensive grazing, may have caused, directly or indirectly, a degree of disturbance or degradation of wetlands in many other areas. In many cases an appropriate grazing regime is considered a useful management tool to maintain intermittent wetlands in a condition useful to waterbirds, due to the introduction and uncontrolled spread of exotic, water tolerant, pasture grasses.

New South Wales

It has been estimated that there are around 4.5 million hectares of wetlands in NSW, which is about 6% of the State’s geographical area (NSW Wetlands Management Policy, 1996).

There has as yet been no systematic mapping of all NSW wetlands completed although there are projects currently underway to improve the State inventory and provide more reliable indicators of rates of change. A project to be completed by April 1999 will provide a wetland GIS for all wetland areas in the Murray-Darling Basin, an area that covers 60% of NSW and parts of Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. Maps of wetland areas are currently under review. Earlier regional or local studies provide some indication of changes which have occurred: Goodrick (1970) estimated that 60% of the most valuable waterfowl habitat in coastal wetlands had been degraded or lost; Stricker (1995) estimated that in the Sydney Region about 50% of the area of pre-European freshwater wetlands and 80% of the saltmarsh area had been lost in the preceding 200 years; Pressey (1986) reported that over 45% of the area of NSW Murray River wetlands had been degraded by the regulation of river flows; the extensive Macquarie Marshes wetland system is believed to have contracted by as much as 40 - 50% because of water diversions and the development of irrigated agriculture.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory does not have an accurate measure of the total area of its wetlands. However, there is a total of 53,720 km2 of vegetation communities associated with wetlands, made up of:

Melaleuca forest and woodlands 13,236 km2

Floodplain vegetation 10,333 km2

Littoral vegetation 11,090 km2

Chenopod shrublands 19,061 km2

South Australia

There has not been a comprehensive assessment of the area of wetlands in South Australia, however there is a surprising array of wetlands in spite of the State being by far the driest of all Australian States. There are freshwater swamps, channels, lakes, floodplains, coastal sea lakes, freshwater ponds, peat fens, marshes, coastal embayments, mangrove/samphire and estuarine mud flats, mound springs and seasonally inundated brackish swamps.

No recent estimates have been made on rates of loss or conversion of wetlands, however, the South Eastern Wetlands Committee (1984) reported that permanent wetlands in the South East had been reduced to less than 7% of the original area by 1981.

Western Australia

There has not been a comprehensive assessment of the area of wetlands in Western Australia. Estimates are available for wetland resources on the Swan Coastal Plain (Hill et al. 1993) and the Busselton-Walpole Region (Pen 1997).

In the mid 1960’s it was estimated that 75% of the wetlands of the Swan Coastal Plain had been filled or drained (Riggert 1974). No recent estimates have been made on rates of loss or conversion of wetlands. A contemporary assessment is proposed for the Swan Coastal Plain as part of the review of the Swan Coastal Plain Lakes Environmental Protection Policy.

Degradation of wetlands is a major concern in Western Australia with eight of the 22 current priority environmental issues (State of the Environment Reference Group 1998) involving marine and inland wetlands. These issues include: salinisation, loss of fringing vegetation, eutrophication, sedimentation, contamination and invasion of exotic species.

Victoria

Wetland Category Pre-European Area (ha) % of area remaining
Deep freshwater marsh

154,800

30

Freshwater meadow

172,700

57

Permanent open freshwater

79,100

94

Permanent saline

142,200

98

Semi-permanent saline

61,300

93

Shallow freshwater marsh

15,800

40

6.4 Have any actions been taken in response to the COP6 Resolutions and Recommendations that Contracting Parties should give priority to listing Wetlands of International Importance which:

a. meet the criteria for fish habitat (Resolution VI.2),
b. meet the 1% criterion for waterbird populations using data provided by the International Waterfowl Census (Resolution VI.4),
c. are subterranean karst or cave wetland systems (Resolution VI.5),
d. are peatland ecosystems (Recommendation 6.1)
e. are coral reefs and associated systems (Recommendation 6.7)
f. are under-represented wetland types (which apart from d. and e. above include mangroves and sea grass beds) (Strategic Plan Action 6.2.3)

Refer also to response to 6.5

The Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management is currently assessing potential candidate sites for listing under the Ramsar Convention (nine sites were listed in 1992). The priorities identified at CoP6 are to be addressed in this assessment.

A project is underway in Victoria to identify important karst wetlands and two inland wetland categories not assessed to date: permanent rivers and streams and seasonal and irregular rivers and streams. Particular attention will be paid to using existing statewide distributional data on threatened fish and invertebrate species to identify important wetlands in these and other wetland categories.

A project currently underway in NSW to update the Directory of Important Wetlands will provide additional information on which priorities for further listings of Wetlands of International Importance, particularly in those categories which are currently not represented, can be based.

6.5 If your government indicated at COP6 that it would be proceeding to list further specific sites, please advise of the status of this action.

Australia is actively pursuing further nominations and expects to add sites to the List of Wetlands on International Importance by CoP7.

6.6 Please advise which of the sites included in the Ramsar List from your country are transfrontier wetlands (Refer also to 7.1).

Not applicable.

6.7 Describe any plans, or actions being taken for further transfrontier sites to be listed (Refer also to 7.1).

Not applicable.


Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 7
To mobilise international cooperation and financial assistance for wetland conservation and wise use in collaboration with other conventions and agencies, both governmental and non-governmental.

7.1 Briefly describe any bilateral or multilateral activities that have been taken, are under way, or are planned for the management of transfrontier wetlands or their watersheds/catchments (Refer also to 6.6 and 6.7).

Refer to response to General Objective 1.

Refer to response to General Objective 4.

Box 6 Shorebird Action Plan

At an international meeting at Kushiro, Japan in December 1994 it was agreed that there was an urgent need for multilateral cooperation for the conservation of migratory waterbirds. The meeting recognised that there was not a suitable international legal framework to develop conservation plans and called on Governments and non-government organisations to work in partnership to develop a regional conservation strategy. In response an Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy 1996-2000 (the Strategy), for the period 1996-2000 was drafted. The Strategy encourages countries to "promote and participate in the development and conclusion of a multilateral agreement for the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats in the Asia-Pacific region..." . Implementation of the Strategy is being coordinated by Wetlands International with core funding from Environment Australia and the Environment Agency of Japan. An Action Plan for the Conservation of Migratory Shorebirds in Asia Pacific: 1996-2000 has been prepared by Wetlands International to provide guidance on the priority actions that need to be undertaken for the conservation of migratory shorebirds by Government agencies, site managers, researchers and non-government organisations.

7.2 Do you have Ramsar sites that are "twinned" with others, either nationally or internationally? Yes/No. If yes, please give details.

The Kooragang Nature Reserve and the Kushiro Wetlands in Japan were the subject of Australia’s first twinning of Ramsar sites. The arrangement continues to be supported through exchanges of students and staff between Kushiro High School and Jesmond University High School in Newcastle, NSW, with the most recent visit in September 1998. Signatories to the twinning included the Mayors of Newcastle and Port Stephens and seven Mayors from the townships surrounding the Kushiro wetlands.

The Boondall Wetlands in Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia, and the Yatsu Tideland in Japan, are the subject of a site twinning arrangement which was entered into by the Brisbane City Council and the Narashino City in February 1998. These sites are both Ramsar listed and both also included in the East Asian Australasian Shorebird Reserve Network. Under the arrangement the two Lord Mayors have agreed to support research, exchange of personnel and development of domestic and international education projects in recognition of the importance of protecting these wetlands and the migratory shorebirds dependent upon them.

7.3 Where your country is also a signatory of any of the following Conventions, describe what mechanism(s) exist to assist regular dialogue and cooperative actions between the personnel responsible for their implementation and the Ramsar Administrative Authority:

a. Convention on Biological Diversity
b. Framework Convention on Climate Change
c. Convention to Combat Desertification
d. Convention on Migratory Species
e. World Heritage Convention

Australia is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Migratory Species and the World Heritage Convention. Australia has signed but not yet ratified, the Convention to Combat Desertification. Environment Australia is the management authority in Australia for overseeing and coordinating the implementation of all these Conventions in cooperation with the State and Territory governments.

7.4 Is your country cooperating as part of any bilateral or multilateral activities directed at the conservation of migratory wetland species? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details.

Refer also to Box 6 Shorebird Action Plan

Australia has bilateral migratory bird conservation agreements with Japan (JAMBA) and China (CAMBA). These agreements are important mechanisms for the exchange of information, support for training activities and cooperation on research activities. Biennial consultative meetings for JAMBA, CAMBA and the Japan-China Migratory Birds Agreement (JCMBA) are now all consecutive, effectively creating a tripartite forum. Australia is also a signatory to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (the Bonn Convention).

In 1996, Australia and Japan co-sponsored Recommendation 6.4 (The Brisbane Initiative) which saw the launch of the East Asian-Australasian Shorebird Reserve Network. The Network aims to highlight the importance of wetland areas for migratory shorebirds and promote activities to conserve these areas. Environment Australia is helping to develop the Network in association with Wetlands International. Some actions include:

  • ongoing activities within the Network to ensure the protection of important wetland habitats for migratory shorebirds;
  • development of a Colour Marking Protocol for shorebird species which migrate throughout the East Asian-Australasian Flyway to assist countries to coordinate bird banding and monitoring work;
  • adoption of a Shorebird Action Plan to provide the strategic framework for an Asia Pacific approach to migratory shorebird conservation, and establishment of a Shorebird Working Group tasked with overseeing implementation of the Plan and the ongoing development of the Network; and
  • training in wetland management techniques for Chinese wetland managers at two Shorebird Reserve Network sites using volunteer trainers from Australian non-government groups, a collaborative project funded under the International Environmental Commitments Program.

Australia is investigating the development of a Multilateral shorebird agreement within the Asia Pacific region to follow on from the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy 1996-2000. This agreement would build on principles established under existing mechanisms such as the Bonn, Ramsar and Biological Diversity Conventions and would seek a coordinated approach to migratory waterbird conservation in the region.

7.5 Are there multilateral and/or bilateral donors supporting projects which contribute to implementation of the Ramsar Convention in your country? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details.

While Australia co-operates with other countries in the Asia Pacific and Oceania regions on the implementation of the Ramsar Convention, Australia does not receive resources from other country donors for activities within Australia.

7.6 Does your government make an annual budgetary allocation to support the conservation and wise use of wetlands within your country? Yes/No. If yes, is this a specific allocation to a wetlands programme or as part of a larger environment or natural resource management budget?

Refer to Box 2 Natural Heritage Trust

Under the NSW Wetlands Management Policy, the State Wetlands Action Group administers a fund which is specifically directed to community projects which are consistent with the Policy. Other funds are directed to wetlands as part of the larger natural resource management budget.

7.7 If your country has a development assistance programme, does it include funds earmarked for wetland conservation and wise use in other countries? Yes/No. If yes, please give details.

Environment Australia operates the International Conservation Program, the objectives of which are to conserve and protect the natural environment focussing on the Asia Pacific region and to advance Australian international, regional and bilateral priorities on the conservation of the environment. The Program does not have a specific allocation for wetlands but has, during 1997 and 1998, supported a number of wetlands projects in the Asia Pacific region. The Program draws from AusAID’s country strategies and experience in aid programs and projects and liaises regularly with AusAID to ensure there is no duplication or overlap with activities being undertaken. In 1996/97 AusAID funded projects to promote the wise use of wetlands worth approximately $20 million. AusAID continues to provide a significant amount of aid for wetlands projects within the Asia Pacific region.

7.8 Is there a formal process in place for consultation between the Ramsar Administrative Authority and the development assistance programme in your country, where one exists? Yes/No. If yes, what is that process.

No


Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 8
To provide the Convention with the required institutional mechanisms and resources.

8.1 Has your government made voluntary financial contributions, other than the invoiced contributions or to the Small Grants Fund, to further the work of the Convention globally? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details.

No

8.2 If your country is in arrears with the payment of its annual contributions to the Ramsar Convention, please indicate the reasons for this situation and the prospects for paying these arrears in the near future.

Not applicable


Optional section - Participation of non-government organizations in the implementation of the Convention

These are optional questions relating to cooperation with and involvement of non-government organizations in the implementation of the Convention.

At COP6 some 42 NGOs made the "Brisbane NGO pledge of support for the Ramsar Convention". The Standing Committee agreed that for COP7 there should be an effort made to gauge the level and type of cooperation which is occurring between government Administrative Authorities and the national and international NGOs with an interest in wetlands issues.

In this optional section of the National Report, you are asked to describe the nature of the cooperation and relationship with any other international, regional, national and provincial NGOs operating within your country.

9.1 Approximately how many NGOs have wetlands as part of their regular "business" in your country? Please break this down between international, regional and national/provincial organizations.

The following 33 member NGOs of the Australian Wetlands Alliance have wetlands as part of their regular business in Australia.

International NGOs 3

  • Wetlands International - Oceania
  • World Wide Fund for Nature - Australia
  • Friends of the Earth Australia (Wetlands Campaign)

National NGOs 6

  • Australasian Wader Studies Group
  • Australian Conservation Foundation
  • Australian Marine Conservation Society
  • Australian Society for Limnology
  • Bird Observers Club of Australia
  • Birds Australia

Provincial and Local NGOs 24

  • Blundell’s Swamp Co-operative
  • Coast and Wetlands Society
  • Conservation Council of South Australia
  • Conservation Council of Western Australia
  • Cumberland Bird Observers Club
  • Friends of Forrestdale
  • National Parks Association of ACT
  • National Parks Association of NSW
  • National Parks Association of QLD
  • Nature Conservation Council of NSW
  • New South Wales Field Ornithologists Club
  • New South Wales Wader Study Group
  • Port Phillip Conservation Council
  • Queensland Conservation Council
  • Queensland Ornithological Society
  • (includes Queensland Wader Study Group)
  • Shorebird Study Group of BOAT
  • Shortland Wetland Centre
  • Tasmanian Conservation Trust
  • The Environment Centre of NT
  • Tuggerah Biodiversity Committee
  • Victorian Wetlands Trust
  • Wetlands Conservation Society
  • Wetlands Foundation of Victoria
  • Wide Bay Burnett Conservation Council

In addition, several other NGOs are involved in wetlands as witnessed in the list of signatories to the NGO Pledge at CoP6, Brisbane, 1996.

Other NGOs active in wetland issues include:

  • Wetland Care Australia
  • Victorian Field and Game Association
  • Friends of the Brolga
  • Broome Bird Observatory (Birds Australia)
  • Peel Preservation Society
  • Friends of Yellagonga
  • Canning River Volunteer Guides
  • Seaham Swamp Landcare Group
  • Murrumbidgee Field Naturalists Group
  • Hunter Bird Observers Club

9.2 Is there a regular forum or mechanism through which these NGOs express their views on wetland conservation and Ramsar implementation:

a. to each other? Yes/No
b. to the government? Yes/No

Refer to response 2.12

a. to each other

The Australian Wetlands Alliance is an umbrella "networking" group for NGOs active in regard to wetlands in Australia. It is not a legal entity but is governed by an elected committee (Reference Group) of five member NGOs representative of the types and interests of the members. The above mentioned (see 9.1) NGOs as members of the Australian Wetlands Alliance meet from time to time as need and funding permits. In addition, information is exchanged through occasional newsletters and communiques on specific issues. More regular and intensive activity is associated with the lead up to and immediate follow-up from Ramsar CoPs.

The Commonwealth, through the National Wetlands Program, is providing financial support to the Australian Wetlands Alliance so they can coordinate the input of NGOs into the preparation of this report and to the preparation of policy positions Australia may adopt for the 7th Ramsar CoP in 1999.

b. to the government.

The National Environment Consultative Forum is convened regularly wherein non government groups express their views on a range of environmental issues, including wetlands, directly with the Commonwealth Environment Minister.

Non government representatives are included on the majority of Ramsar site management plan steering committees to ensure that their views are taken into account. There are also forums where NGOs are represented on committees to advise State Governments on matters concerning Ramsar and other wetland sites.

9.3 Does your government include one or more NGO representatives on its official delegation to Ramsar COPs? Yes/No

Non-government conservation groups, through the Australian Wetlands Alliance, have nominated Michelle Handley of World Wide Fund for Nature - Australia to represent the Alliance on the Australian delegation to the 7th Ramsar COP. Ms Di Tarte represented NGOs on the Australian delegation to the 6th Ramsar COP in 1996.

9.4 Do any of the NGOs run programmes aimed at Education and Public Awareness about wetlands in your country? Yes/No. If yes, please give details (Refer also to question 3.1).

Many of the member NGOs of the Australian Wetlands Alliance conduct Education and Public Awareness activities as core business and most others undertake such activities from time to time. Activities undertaken include:

  • conducting special events on World Wetlands Day;
  • supporting school groups in wetland studies and site visits;
  • disseminating information on wetlands through newsletters and electronic media;
  • building and maintaining networks for communication and action on coastal wetlands;
  • producing publications on management of wetlands and/or conservation of wetland species, and brochures and other materials promoting wetland conservation;
  • raising community and government awareness of important wetland sites and issues affecting them, such as lobbying for environmental flows for inland rivers;
  • providing facilities (centres, observatories) where the community can experience wetlands and access educational displays and other media;
  • conducting management activities at sites which attract media attention to the sites and to important issues.

9.5 Where they exist, do Ramsar site management advisory committees include NGO representatives? If yes, please give details

Refer to response 9.2 and 9.6

The arrangements for advisory management committees for Ramsar sites will vary from State to State and include a range of formal and informal mechanisms.

An example of a formal mechanism is the arrangement for the Lake Toolibin Ramsar site (WA) which has a formal Recovery Plan, the implementation of which is overseen by a Recovery Team that includes community representatives. In addition, many of the management actions are implemented by community-based catchment and sub-catchment groups.

An example of informal involvement is the exchange of information between the Moreton Bay Alliance and State Government over the zoning plan affecting Moreton Bay Ramsar site (QLD).

9.6 Describe the themes of the Convention (refer to General Objectives 1-8 of the Strategic Plan) where you perceive the national/provincial NGOs to be most active.

The main areas of interest of NGOs in the Ramsar Convention Strategic Plan, as perceived by Environment Australia, are 2.1 (National Wetlands Policy), 2.5 (legislation), 2.10 (EIAs), 4.1 (institutional cooperation), 5 (Ramsar listed wetlands) and 6 (Wetland inventories)

The following list, which is not exhaustive, illustrates NGO activity in Australia in regard to the General Objectives of the Ramsar Convention Strategic Plan, as perceived by the Australian Wetlands Alliance:

Universal membership.

Some NGOs are active in promoting the Convention and its Strategic Plan in the Pacific Islands region.

Wise use.

Several NGOs represent NGO/community views on conservation policy issues, including wetland issues, through regular dialogue with the Commonwealth. NGOs are also active in lobbying for implementation of wetland policy and on prominent issues such as water allocations. A number of local wetlands are being restored with input from wetland NGOs. Some NGOs are involved in wetland projects implemented by indigenous landowners.

Awareness.

See 9.4 Shortland Wetlands Centre is an example of an NGO which has as its core business education programs and interpretation services to raise awareness of wetland values and functions.

Capacity of institutions.

Several Australia-based NGOs are involved in building agency capacity and training of wetland managers (including species specialists) in developing countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Conservation of Ramsar sites.

Input of NGOs to management plans occurs extensively: community consultation is usually a requirement of the planning process. Some NGOs are planning to undertake, or are already involved with, pilot studies on community-based monitoring of Ramsar sites. Additional data on listed sites are obtained from time to time by NGOs especially those that employ technical staff. Assessments of the effectiveness of implementation of the Convention in Australia, especially at Ramsar sites, are produced prior to CoPs by the NGO community.

Designate new sites.

The substantial contribution of community volunteers is harnessed by several NGOs in collection of data that will be available to guide designation of new Ramsar sites in Australia. Surveys of wetlands that are suspected to be internationally important are being undertaken by NGOs, especially those that employ technical staff. Some NGOs actively lobby for nomination of particular wetland sites that meet the Ramsar criteria.

International cooperation.

Several NGOs are active in collaborative projects in and with other countries in the Asia Pacific region, including work on trans-border wetlands and migratory species.

Institutional mechanisms. Not applicable.

Whereas some of the activities are undertaken by NGOs that have substantial resources and support base, many significant actions - including actions at Ramsar sites - are undertaken by smaller NGOs especially at the local level.

[Note: Some respondents - and EA - have cited different numbering for the Operational Objectives to that shown in the hard copy and latest Website version of the Strategic Plan. To avoid this confusion the above more general approach has been used.]


Final comments:

10.1 General comments on implementation of the Ramsar Strategic Plan.

Australia considers the Ramsar Strategic Plan to be one of the most important documents guiding the direction of the Convention and the work of the Bureau. We have utilised the Strategic Plan in our national planning and policy development. It has also been useful in setting priorities and gaining commitment and resources from Australian Governments. Planning for a new strategic plan beyond 2002 should be a very high priority, and should be scheduled to commence after the 7th Conference of the Parties in Cost Rica, for endorsement at the following conference.

10.2 Observations concerning the functioning of, relations with, and services provided by:

a. The Ramsar Standing Committee

At the appointment of a new Standing Committee we suggest a profile of each delegate be prepared, including their priorities for the Convention. A short statement from the appointed members could appear in the newsletter and Web page, with the broader contact group being alerted to this through the list server. In this manner some of the anonymity of the Standing Committee would be removed. Changes to the delegates during the triennium could also be accompanied by updated releases of profiles.

b. The Ramsar Scientific and Technical Review Panel

The STRP is forming a valuable technical analysis role with a number of recommendations coming forth to the Standing Committee and Contracting Parties. The development of guidelines for a wetland risk assessment framework and early warning monitoring is an area that Australia has been keen to assist.

We suggest that consideration should be given to furthering contact between the STRP and the Contracting Parties between Conferences with more material circulated on the Ramsar discussion list and placement on the Web page. Examples of the former would include a summary of key issues considered by the STRP with requests for comments and further advice. Individual STRP members could be given specific carriage of technical issues and asked to explore these with Contracting Parties and other subscribers to the list server and to present a summary of responses.

We would also encourage the STRP and the Bureau to undertake much greater contact with other Convention Bureau and expert groups and present short and specific reports through the list server and Web page (eg. CBD, IPCC, ICRI).

c. The Ramsar Bureau

The Web Page has greatly improved and increased awareness of activities undertaken by the Bureau. A staff profile with photographs and bibliographic information could be added. This would be most beneficial for new appointments and interns, but for newcomers to the Convention an entire staff profile would be beneficial.

d. The Ramsar NGO partners

This is an area that could be greatly enhanced. Whilst these partners have their own newsletters and meetings we feel that a bi-annual or even quarterly report on major activities would be beneficial. This could again occur via the list server with copies maintained on the Web page for longer term record and access.

10.3 Any other general observations and/or recommendations for the future.

National Reports

Protected areas

A valuable addition to the National Report would be a review of the establishment of wetland protected areas during the previous three years. This had been included in earlier reports. (Article 4 paragraph 1 of the Text of the Ramsar Convention states that Parties "shall promote the conservation of wetlands and waterfowl by establishing nature reserves on wetlands, whether they are included in the List or not...".)

Monitoring at Ramsar sites

There is an opportunity for future National Reports to the Ramsar Convention to enhance reporting of the performance of Contracting Parties in meeting their Ramsar obligations. The current structure of National Report Appendices 3 & 4 do not convey the extent and quality of monitoring undertaken at sites for which a monitoring program exists nor do they allow for reporting of threats to the integrity of Ramsar sites before they result in changes to ecological character.

Specifically Appendix 3 could provide more detail regarding the level of monitoring conducted at each site. Reference should be made to what is being monitored, how frequently, and whether the monitoring covers part or all of the Ramsar site. Similarly, Appendix 4 should be expanded to serve more as a "State of the Environment Report on all Ramsar sites", addressing the following issues:

  • Have there been changes in ecological character?
  • Have there been changes in management status?
  • Have there been changes in management resources?
  • Have there been changes in threatening processes?
  • Have there been changes in boundaries of sites? Has this influenced management of the site?
  • Have there been changes in the level of community involvement?

Appendix 1 - List of Projects funded under the National Wetlands Program 1996-98 (response to objective 2.4)

Management Planning and Actions
South Australia    
Management Plan for Coorong & Lakes Alexandrina & Albert Ramsar Wetland SA Department of Environment 1996/97, 97/98 and 98/99
SA Wise Wetland Management Program SA Department of Environment 1997/98
Management Planning for SA Mound Springs SA Department of Environment 1997/98
Lake Eyre Basin Catchment Management Regional Initiative and Catchment Coordinator, Lake Eyre Basin Steering Group (joint with Bushcare and National Landcare Program) Lake Eyre Basin Steering Group through Queensland Department of Natural Resources & SA Department of Environment 1997/98
Wetlands Waterlink (joint with Bushcare and National Landcare Program) SA Department of Environment 1997/98
South East Coastal Lakes - Realising Lake Hawdon's Potential SA Department of Environment 1998/99
Tasmania    
Management Plans for Tasmanian Ramsar Sites Department of Environment and Land Management 1996/97
Management Plan for Clarence Plains Rivulet & Catchment Area Clarence Plains Landcare Group 1996/97
Protection of threatened nesting and migratory shorebirds in Tasmania Department of Environment and Land Management 1997/98
Northern Territory    
Management Strategies for the Arafura Swamp and catchment and Liverpool and Glyde Rivers Northern Land Council 1996/97
Identification and Management Planning for Cobourg Marine Park NT Parks & Wildlife Commission 1996/97
A Management Strategy and Protected Areas System for Coastal Wildlife NT Parks & Wildlife Commission 1997/98
Monitoring System for the Mary River Catchment Management Plan (joint with Bushcare) Department of Lands, Planning and Environment 1997/98
New South Wales    
Revision of Management Plan for the Towra Point Ramsar Site and erosion remediation options NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 1996/97
Lachlan Floodplain Wetlands Adaptive Water Management Framework NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation 1997/98
Botany Bay Shorebird Action Plan NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 1998/99
Queensland    
Management Plan for Currawinya Lakes Ramsar Site Qld Department of Environment 1996/97
Management Planning and Public Education for Migratory Shorebird Roost and Feeding Sites in Moreton Bay Qld Department of Environment 1997/98
Brigalow Belt North - Biodiversity Strategy (joint with Bushcare) Qld Department of Environment 1997/98
Western Australia    
Management Plan for the Lower Ord Ramsar Site Department of Conservation and Land Management 1996/97
Rowles Lagoon - Management of a National Asset Department of Conservation and Land Management 1997/98
Development of wetland management plans: facilitation and support WA Waters and Rivers Commission 1997/98
Sustainable Management of Pilbara Wetlands WA Waters and Rivers Commission 1997/98
Management Strategy to reduce nutrients in Forrestdale Lake Department of Conservation and Land Management 1998/99
Mandora Marsh Land Management Assessment Department of Conservation and Land Management 1998/99
Victoria    
Management Strategies for Victorian Ramsar Wetlands Parks Victoria 1997/98 and 98/99
Management planning and works - Ramsar and related wetlands Parks Victoria 1997/98
Australian Capital Territory    
Ginini Flats - Management Plan for Ramsar Site Environment ACT 1998/99
Wetlands Inventory and 3rd edition of the Directory
South Australia    
South Australian Wetlands Database SA Department of Environment 1996/97
Tasmania    
Tasmanian Peatland Survey Department of Environment and Land Management 1997/98
Northern Territory    
Technique development & databases for enhanced wetland inventory in Northern Australia eriss 1996/97
Biological Inventory of the Arafura Swamp and Catchment NT Parks & Wildlife Commission 1997/98
Inventory & Significance of Wetlands in Arid NT NT Parks & Wildlife Commission 1998/99
New South Wales    
Waterbirds of Lake Hope, Lower Cooper Creek, Strzlecki Creek, Lake Blanche and Lake Callabonna NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 1996/97
Survey of Wetlands of Northwestern NSW NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 1997/98 and 98/99
Updating the Directory of Important Wetlands NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 1997/98
Wetland Inventory of the Lower Shoalhaven Shoalhaven City Council 1998/99
Statewide Mapping of Wetlands in NSW NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 1998/99
Victoria    
Identification and assessment of nationally important wetlands in Victoria for the 3rd edition of the Directory Department of Natural Resources and the Environment 1996/97
Important rivers and streams in Victoria Department of Natural Resources and the Environment 1997/98
Queensland    
QLD Inventory Project for the 3rd Edition of the Directory Qld Department of Environment 1996/97
Gulf of Carpentaria Shorebird Surveys Qld Department of Environment 1997/98
Evaluation of Wetlands in SE Qld Bioregion Qld Department of Environment 1998/99
Western Australia    
Identification of WA Wetlands for the 3rd Edition of the Directory Department of Conservation and Land Management 1996/97, 97/98 and 98/99
Nomination of New Sites
South Australia    
Nomination of the Watervalley Wetlands for Ramsar Listing Wetlands and Wildlife Trust 1996/97
New South Wales    
Developing a strategy for nominating Ramsar sites on private land NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 1996/97
Designation & Management of Additional Ramsar Wetlands in NSW NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 1998/99
Queensland    
Nomination of the Great Sandy Strait for Ramsar Listing Qld Department of Environment 1996/97
Western Australia    
Nomination of additional Ramsar wetlands in WA Department of Conservation and Land Management 1997/98
Victoria    
Documentation of the Natimuk-Douglas Wetlands as a new Ramsar site in Victoria Department of Natural Resources and the Environment 1997/98
Nomination of two Victorian Ramsar sites to the Shorebird Reserve Network Department of Natural Resources and the Environment 1997/98
Documentation of the Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands as a new Ramsar site in Victoria Department of Natural Resources and the Environment and Melbourne Water Corporation 1997/98
On-ground actions and education/awareness raising activities
South Australia    
Signage for "Riverland" Wetlands Calperum Bookmark Biosphere Trust 1996/97
Managing the Watervalley Wetlands for Wildlife Wetlands and Wildlife Trust 1997/98 and 98/99
Regeneration at Rush Lagoon Timber Creek Landcare Group 1997/98
Big Swamp Wetland Conservation & Management Project Big Swamp Landcare Group 1997/98 and 98/99
Strategic Wetland Management in River Murray Local Action Planning Areas (joint with Bushcare and Murray Darling 2001) Wetland Care Australia 1997/98 and 98/99
Reedy Creek Lagoon Rehabilitation Reedy Creek Habitat Committee 1997/98
Silky Tea-tree/Cutting-grass Wetland Protection & Rehabilitation Project Nature Conservation Society of SA Inc 1998/99
Tasmania    
Seymour Wetlands Conservation Project East Coast Regional Development Organisation 1997/98 and 98/99
Protection and Care of Clear Lagoon Birds Tasmania 1997/98
Huonville Wetland Project Huonville Primary School Landcare Group 1997/98
Maintaining Water Quality in Coffee Creek Huntingfield Coffee Creek Landcare Group 1997/98
Dover School Farm Wetlands Restoration Project Dover District High School Farm Management Committee Inc 1997/98
Wetlands Reconstruction and Tree Establishment - Houston Farm Coal Valley Landcare Group 1997/98
Conservation Strategy and Management of Tasmania's Shorebirds Birds Tasmania 1997/98
Hawley Wetlands Waterbird Reserve Houghton P/L 1997/98
Leap Frog - Rehabilitation of Habitat for the Recovery of the Green & Gold Frog Deloraine Field Naturalist Group Inc 1998/99
Submission of Boullanger Bay & Robbins Passage for Ramsar Birds Tasmania 1998/99
Management of Nationally Important Private Wetlands in North East Tasmania WWF for Nature Australia 1998/99
Goulds Lagoon Catchment Care Project Goulds Lagoon Care Group 1998/99
Northern Territory    
Darwin & West Wetland Management Planning Consultation Cost Northern Land Council 1997/98
Arnhem Land Wetland Management Planning Consultation Cost Northern Land Council 1997/98
New South Wales    
Production of Frogfacts Leaflets Frog and Tadpole Study Group of NSW Inc 1997/98
Seaham Swamp Wetland Interpretation Station Seaham Swamp Landcare Group and Shortland Wetlands Centre 1997/98
Wetland Site Interpretations for Education and Impaired Visitors Shortland Wetlands Centre 1997/98
Rehabilitation of Littoral Wetland and Establishment of Walkway Redhead Landcare 1997/98
Five Islands Wetland Management and Conservation Study Five Islands Wetland Landcare Group 1997/98
Development of Wetland Management Plans with Community Consultation Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment Trust 1997/98
NSW Wetland Action Plan Workshop NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation 1997/98
NSW Wetland Rehabilitation - Review, Workshops and paper NSW Fisheries 1997/98
Botany Wetlands Public Awareness and Education Project Botany Historical Trust 1998/99
Community Based Monitoring of the Kooragang Ramsar Wetland Shortland Wetlands Centre 1998/99
Breeding Waterbirds in Macquarie Marshes Guide River Health Macquarie Marshes Catchment Committee 1998/99
Queensland    
Tarradarrapin Creek Wetlands Planning & Management Project Birkdale Progress Association Inc 1997/98
Ingham Tyto Wetlands (joint with Bushcare) Hinchinbrook Shire Council 1997/98
Status of Wetlands on the Wide Bay - Burnett Coast Wide Bay Burnett Conservation Council 1998/99
Western Australia    
Saunders Spring Fencing Project Broome Botanical Society Inc 1997/98
Wetland Rehabilitation - City of Cockburn Wetlands Conservation Society Inc 1997/98
Cleaning up Wagin's Lakes - developing a community plan Bojanning Aboriginal Corporation 1997/98
WA South Coast Wetland Fencing Program APACE Green Skills 1997/98
Community Based Monitoring of Roebuck Bay Broome Bird Observatory 1998/99
Rehabilitation of Forrestdale Lake Fringing Buffer Vegetation The Friends of Forrestdale/CALM 1998/99
Lake Warden Wetland System:education, interpretation and hides Department of Conservation and Land Management 1998/99
Threatened Habitat Protection - Mandora Marsh CALM 1998/99
Victoria    
Community Awareness Geelong Ramsar wetlands City of Greater Geelong 1997/98
Community Based Monitoring of Corner Inlet (Ramsar Wetland) Wetlands International - Oceania 1998/99
Coopers Point Wetland Restoration Project Victorian Field and Game Association - Kyabram Branch 1998/99
Wetland Education and Management Program - Boorhaman Boorhaman and District Landcare Group 1998/99
Australian Capital Territory    
Tin Hut Wetland Project Friends of Googong 1998/99
Conder Urban Wetland Project Clean up Australia 2001 1998/99
National    
A Review of Management Issues Affecting Wetlands in the Register of the National Estate World Wide Fund for Nature 1996/97
Policy development
Development of Tasmanian Wetlands Policy Department of Environment and Land Management 1997/98

Appendix 2 - List of publications which promote the wise use of wetlands (response to question 2.7)

Agriculture Western Australia, Department of Conservation and Land Management, Department of Environmental Protection, and Water and Rivers Commission (1996) Western Australian Salinity Action Plan, Government of Western Australia, Perth.

Arnold, J. (1990) Perth Wetlands Resource Book. Bulletin 266, Environmental Protection Authority, Perth.

Bayliss et al. (1998) Vulnerability assessment of predicted climate change and sea level rise in the Alligator Rivers Region, Northern Territory, Australia, Supervising Scientist Report 123. Commonwealth of Australia.

Bowman Bishaw Gorham, Jim Davies & Associates, and Rural Planning (unpublished, 1992) Recovery Plan for Toolibin Lake and Surrounding Reserves, report prepared for the Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia under the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program - 1991/92, Department of Conservation and Land Management, Perth.

Bradby, K. (1997) Peel - Harvey: the decline and rescue of an ecosystem, Greening the Catchment Taskforce, Mandurah, Western Australia.

Commonwealth of Australia (1997) Wetlands Policy of the Commonwealth Government of Australia, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Commonwealth of Australia (1998) Reform of Commonwealth Environment Legislation: Consultation Paper, Department of the Environment, Canberra.

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (1997) A Wetlands / Waterways Health Check: rating your local wetland or waterway, supplement to Double Helix, CSIRO, Canberra.

Curtin, A. L. and Kingsford, R. T. (in review). Control of ducks on rice in southwestern New South Wales. Wildlife Research.

de Jong, M. (1997) Register of Wetland Restoration Projects in Australia and New Zealand, for the Specialist Group on Wetland Restoration, South Australian Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Wetlands International.

Department of Environmental Protection (1998) Guidelines for Environment and Planning,

http://www.environ.wa.gov.au/pubs/guides/guides_1.htm (July 1998), Perth.

Department of Land and Water Conservation (1997) NSW Wetlands Management Policy: Management Guidelines, Department of Land and Water Conservation, Sydney.

Department of Land and Water Conservation and National Parks and Wildlife Service (1996) Macquarie Marshes Water Management Plan 1996, New South Wales Government, Sydney.

Environmental Protection Authority (1995) Draft criteria of environmental acceptability for land use proposals within the catchment of Lake Clifton, Bulletin 188, Perth.

Finlayson, C. M., Storrs, M. J. and Lindner, G. (1997) Degradation and rehabilitation of wetlands in the Alligator Rivers Region of northern Australia, Wetland Ecology and Management, vol. 5, pp. 19-36.

Froend, R. H. and Storey, A. W. (1996) Monitoring Design and Data Analysis, Toolibin Lake and Catchment, Part 1: Review and Analysis of Monitoring Data, report prepared for the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management, Perth.

Froend, R. H. and Storey, A. W. (1996) Monitoring Design and Data Analysis Toolibin Lake and Catchment, Part 2: Monitoring Design, report prepared for the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management, Perth.

Godfrey, N., Jennings, P. and Nichols, O. (1992) A Guide to Wetland Management on the Swan Coastal Plain, Wetlands Conservation Society, Perth.

Government of South Australia (1997-98) Coorong and Lower Lakes Ramsar Management Plan: Discussion Paper Nos 1-7, Department for Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs, Adelaide.

Government of Western Australia (1997) Wetlands Conservation Policy for Western Australia, Department of Conservation and Land Management, Perth.

Hill, A. et al. (1993) Wetlands of the Swan Coastal Plain, Volume 3: Wetland Mapping, Classification and Evaluation, Water Authority of Western Australia and Environmental Protection Authority, Perth.

Hill, A. et al. (1996) Wetlands of the Swan Coastal Plain. Volume 2A: Wetland Mapping, Classification and Evaluation. Water Authority of Western Australia and Environmental Protection Authority, Perth.

Kingsford, R. T. (1998) Management of wetlands for waterbirds in Management of Australian wetlands eds Williams, W. D., Environment Australia and Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation.

Kingsford, R. T. (in press) Managing the water of the Border Rivers in Australia: irrigation, Government and the wetland environment, Wetlands Ecology and Management

Kingsford, R. T. (in press) Counting the costs on wetlands of taking water from our rivers: the Macquarie Marshes as a test case in Proceedings of Rural 2000 Conference, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga.

Kingsford, R. T. (in press) The potential impact of water extraction on the Paroo and Warrego Rivers in Free-flowing river: the ecology of the Paroo River ed. Kingsford, R. T., New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney.

Kingsford, R. T. (in press). Aerial surveys of waterbirds on wetlands as a landscape measure of river health, Freshwater Biology

Kingsford, R. T., Boulton, A. J. and Puckridge, J. M. (1998) Challenges in managing dryland rivers crossing political boundaries: Lessons from Cooper Creek and the Paroo River, central Australia, Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.

Kingsford, R. T., Curtin, A. L. and Porter, J. L. (in press) Water flows on Cooper Creek determine ‘boom’ and ‘bust’ periods for waterbirds Biological Conservation.

Kingsford, R. T. & Halse, S. A. (in press) Waterbirds as a ‘flagship’ for wetland conservation in arid Australia, proceedings of INTECOL International Wetlands Conference, September 1996, Perth.

Kingsford, R. T. and Johnson, W. (in press) Impact of water diversions on colonially nesting waterbirds in the Macquarie Marshes in arid Australia, Colonial Waterbirds.

Kingsford, R. T. and Porter, J. L. (in press) Wetlands and waterbirds of the Paroo and Warrego Rivers in Free-flowing river: the ecology of the Paroo River ed. Kingsford, R. T., New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney.

Kingsford, R. T., Thomas, R. F. and Knowles, E. (1997) GIS database for wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin, report and maps for the Murray-Darling Basin Commission.

Kingsford, R. T., Thomas, R. F. and Wong, P. S. (1997) Significant wetlands for waterbirds in the Murray-Darling Basin, Murray-Darling Basin Commission. Canberra.

Kingsford, R. T., Tully, S. and Davis, S. (1997) An aerial survey of wetland birds in eastern Australia - October 1994 & 1995, New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, Occasional Paper No. 28.

Kingsford, R.T., Wong, P.S., Braithwaite, L.W. & Maher, M.T. (in press) Waterbird abundance in eastern Australia. 1983-1992. Wildlife Research.

Lane, J., Jaensch, R., and Lynch, R. (1996) Western Australia (pp. 759-943) in Australian Nature Conservation Agency, A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia, Second Edition, Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Canberra.

Lemly, D., Kingsford, R. T., Thompson, J. R. (in press) Irrigated Agriculture and Wildlife Conservation: Conflict on a Global Scale, Environmental Management.

Lord, D. A. and Associates (in preparation) Dawesville Channel Monitoring Program Two Year Technical Review: Summary Report, Western Australian Waters and Rivers Commission, Perth.

Marine Parks and Reserves Selection Working Group (1994) A Representative Reserve System for Western Australia, Department of Conservation and Land Management, Perth.

Morrison, M. D. and Kingsford, R. T. (1997) The management of inland wetlands and river flows and the importance of economic valuation in New South Wales. Wetlands (Australia), vol. 16, pp. 83-98.

National Parks Service (1996) Manual of Wetlands Management, Department of Natural Resources and Environment, East Melbourne.

Pen, L. (1997) A Systematic Overview of Environmental Values of the Wetlands, Rivers and Estuaries of the Busselton-Walpole Region, Waters and Rivers Commission, Water Resource Allocation and Planning Series, Report No WRAP 7, Perth.

Pressey, R. L. (1986) Wetlands of the River Murray below Hume Dam, River Murray Commission Environmental Report 86/1, River Murray Commission, Canberra.

Riggert, T. L. (1974) Man and Nature, Conservation of Wetlands areas. A.C.W.W. Triennial Conference, Perth.

State of the Environment Reference Group (1998) Environment Western Australia 1998: State of the Environment, Department of Environmental Protection. Government of Western Australia, Perth.

Storey, A., Lane, J. and Davies, P. (unpublished, 1997) Monitoring of Ecological Character of Ramsar Sites in Australia. Draft report to Environment Australia, Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management, Perth.

Storrs, M. J. and Finlayson, C. M. (1997) Overview of the conservation status of wetlands of the Northern Territory, Supervising Scientist Report 116, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Stricker, J. (1995) Reviving wetlands, Wetlands Australia, 14(2), pp. 20-25.

Western Australian Department of Agriculture (1995) Ord River Irrigation Area, Kununurra Western Australia, Fourth Edition, Perth.

Water and Rivers Commission (1997) Draft Policy and Principles, Protection of Waters from Pollution in Western Australia, Water Resources Protection Series No.27, Water and Rivers Commission, Perth.

Watkins, D. (1993) A National Plan for Shorebird Conservation in Australia, Australasian Wader Studies Group, Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union and World Wide Fund for Nature. RAOU Report No 90.

Watkins, D. et al. (unpublished, 1997) Management Planning for Ramsar Sites in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia, report to Department of Conservation and Land Management, Perth.

Whelans and Halpern Glick Maunsell in association with Thompson Palmer (1993) Water Sensitive Urban (Residential) Design Guidelines for the Perth metropolitan region, Environmental Protection Authority, Water Authority and Department of Planning and Urban Development, Perth.

Whinam, J. (1997) Sphagnum Moss - Sustainable Use and Management, Parks and Wildlife Service, Hobart.

Whitaker, M. (1998) Issues and Recommendations Relating to Wetland Rehabilitation in NSW - Discussion Paper, Wetland Rehabilitation Review, Wallsend, NSW.

Williams, W. D., ed. (1998) Wetlands in a Dry Land: Understanding for Management, Environment Australia, Biodiversity Group, Canberra.


Appendix 3 - Management Planning at Ramsar sites (response to questions 5.1, 5.2 and 9.5)

Ramsar Site

Status of formal management plan

(q 5.1)

Includes a monitoring component

Management Advisory Committee

 

Existing Plan

Current/ updated management plan

New plan due for completion

(q 5.2)

NGO rep (q 9.5)

1. Cobourg Peninsula Aboriginal Land & Wildlife Sanctuary (NT)

Partial

Being prepared

Late 1998

Yes

 
2. Kakadu National Park Stage I (includes wetland component of Stage III) (Commonwealth)

Yes

Being implemented

n/a

Yes

Yes
3. Moulting Lagoon (TAS)

Partial

Being prepared

June 1999

   
4. Logan Lagoon Conservation Area (TAS)

No

Being prepared

Apr 1999

   
5. Lavinia Nature Reserve (TAS)

No

Being prepared

July 1999

   
6. Pittwater-Orielton Lagoon (TAS)

No

Being prepared

Apr 1999

   
7. Apsley Marshes (TAS)

No

       
8. East-Coast Cape Barren Island Lagoons (TAS)

No

       
9. Flood Plain Lower Ringarooma River (TAS)

No

       
10. Jocks Lagoon (TAS)

No

 

1999

   
11. Interlaken Lakeside Reserve (TAS)

No

Being prepared

Nov 1999

   
12. Little Waterhouse Lake (TAS)

No

Being prepared

Jul 1999

   
13. Corner Inlet (VIC)

Partial

Being prepared

Dec 1998

No

No
14. Barmah Forest (VIC)

Partial

Being prepared

Sep 1998

No

No
15. Gunbower Forest (VIC)

Partial

Being prepared

Dec 1999

No

No
16. Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes (VIC)

Partial

Being prepared

Dec 1998

No

No
17. Kerang Wetlands (VIC)

Partial

Being prepared

Sep 1999

No

No
18. Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninusla (VIC)

Partial

Being prepared

Sep 1999

No

No
19. Western Port (VIC)

Partial

Being prepared

Sep 1999

No

No
20. Western District Lakes (VIC)

Partial

Being prepared

Dec 1998

No

No
21. Gippsland Lakes (VIC)

Partial

Being prepared

Sep 1999

No

No
22. Lake Albacutya (VIC)

Partial

Being prepared

Dec 1998

No

No
23. Towra Point Nature Reserve (NSW)

Yes

Being prepared

draft Feb 98

Yes

Yes
24. Kooragang Nature Reserve (NSW)

Yes

Being implemented

n/a

Yes

 
25. Coorong & Lakes Alexandrina and Albert (SA)

Partial

Being prepared

draft Nov 98

  Yes
26. Bool and Hacks Lagoon (SA)

Yes

Being implemented

     
27. Coongie Lakes (SA)

Partial

Being prepared

draft Apr 98

  Yes
28. Macquarie Marshes Nature Reserve (NSW)

Yes

Being implemented

 

Yes

Yes
29. ‘Riverland’ (SA)

Partial

Being prepared

     
30. Kakadu National Park Stage II (Commonwealth)

Yes

Being implemented

    Yes
31. Ord River Floodplain (WA)

No

Being prepared

May 1999

Yes

No
32. Lakes Argyle and Kununurra (WA)

No

      No
33. Roebuck Bay (WA)

No

      No
34.Eighty-mile Beach (WA)

No

      No
35. Forrestdale and Thomsons Lakes (WA)

Yes

Being implemented

n/a

Yes

Yes
36. Peel-Yalgorup System (WA)

Yes

Being implemented

n/a

Yes

Yes
37. Lake Toolibin (WA)

Yes

Being implemented

n/a

Yes

Yes
38. Vasse-Wonnerup System (WA)

Partial

      No
39. Lake Warden System (WA)

Yes

Being prepared

Oct 1998

Yes

Yes
40. Hosnie’s Spring (Commonwealth)

Yes

Being implemented

n/a

   
41. Moreton Bay (QLD)

Yes

Being implemented for marine areas. Terrestrial areas yet to be completed

2000 for terrestrial areas

Yes

 
42. Bowling Green Bay (QLD)

No

Being prepared

1999

Yes

 
43. Currawinya Lakes (QLD)

No

Being prepared

Nov 1998

Yes

Yes
44. Shoalwater and Corio Bays (QLD)

Yes

Being implemented

n/a

Yes

Yes
45. Ginini Flats Subalpine Bog Complex (ACT)

Partial

New plan being prepared

Sep 1999

Yes

Yes
46. Pulu Keeling National Park (Commonwealth)

Yes

Being implemented

n/a

   
47. Little Llangothlin Lagoon (NSW)

No

Being prepared

     
48. Blue Lake (NSW)

Yes

Being implemented

     
49. Lake Pinaroo (NSW)

No

Being prepared

     

Appendix 4 - Change in ecological character (q 5.3) and further information on management planning at Ramsar sites

Tasmania
Lavinia Nature Reserve (formerly known as Sea Elephant River Conservation Area) No significant ecological change. Possible threats from sand mining south of the site boundary.

The draft management plan has been released for public exhibition and a schedule of public comments has been prepared. Further public consultation on particular issues will take place in October 1998. The proposed final plan will be forwarded to the State Minister in May 1999.

Moulting Lagoon No significant ecological change. Expected improvement due to exclusion of livestock from large sections of the foreshore and consequent recovery of the native vegetation.

The draft plan has been reviewed by relevant state agencies and is ready for public exhibition. Following a 2 month period of public exhibition the plan will be revised as necessary and it is anticipated that the proposed final plan will be forwarded to the State Minister in June 1999.

Pittwater - Orielton Lagoon Improvement of water quality in Orielton Lagoon due to increased water circulation after culverts under the causeway separating it from Pittwater were enlarged. This is expected to improve even more when sewage effluent is diverted from the lagoon later this year. Possible threat to upper Pittwater due to a proposal to increase abstraction of water from its main tributary, the Coal River, and from the consequent increase in irrigation activities in the drainage basin. Some benefits are also expected in this area from a plan to exclude livestock by fencing several sections of the foreshore.

The draft plan for State agency comment is being finalised. It is anticipated that the plan will be released for a 2 month public comment period in November and subsequently a proposed final plan forwarded to the State Minister in April 1999.

Logan Lagoon No significant ecological change.

The draft plan for State agency comment is being finalised. It is anticipated that the plan will be released for a 2 month public comment period in November and subsequently a proposed final plan forwarded to the State Minister in July 1999.

Little Waterhouse Lake Some ecological change and continued threat from the spread of invasive exotic plant species (Typha and Salix spp.).

It is expected that a draft plan will be available for public exhibition in February and a proposed final plan forwarded to the State Minister in July 1999.

Interlaken Lakeside Reserve (formerly Northwest corner of Lake Crescent) Some ecological change and continued threat from the presence of European carp.

Management of this site is focusing on the manipulation of water levels of Lake Crescent, and the adjoining Lake Sorell, to eradicate carp from this waterway and prevent more widespread infestation of the state’s waterways. Ongoing advice on the conservation values and management needs of the Ramsar site has been provided to the carp eradication project.

The draft plan for State agency comment has been started and it is anticipated that it will be released for a two month public comment period in June 1999 and subsequently that a proposed final plan will be forwarded to the State Minister in November 1999.

East Coast Cape Barren Islands Lagoons No significant ecological change. Continued threat of frequent wildfire and invasion of exotic plant (agricultural weeds) and animal (rabbit) species.

Consultation with the local Aboriginal community has occurred but no significant work on plan preparation has been done.

Jocks Lagoon No significant ecological change. Expected improvement due to fencing to exclude recreational vehicles.

Ongoing liaison with the owner of the Lagoon with the aim of making the area a private reserve under the National Parks and Wildlife Act will take place later in 1999.

Apsley Marhes No significant ecological change. Continued threat from spread of exotic plant species (agricultural weeds and gorse).

The owners will be targetted for further extension work as part of the on-going off-reserve conservation program in Tasmania to encourage cooperation in developing or implementing management plans/guidelines for the sites. The relevant local governments will be made aware of the sites’ values and, as new planning schemes are prepared, PWS will recommend appropriate controls on land use in the sites’ catchments.

Flood Plain Lower Ringarooma River No significant ecological change. Possible threat from increased abstraction of water for, and consequent nutrient runoff from, a large project to irrigate pasture for dairy cattle grazing.

A large water storage dam has been built near the site to supply water for irrigation of pasture for dairy cattle. The effects of this dam on water flow in the river and possible eutrophication of the nearby marshes are as yet unknown. The owners will be targetted for further extension work as part of the on-going off-reserve conservation program in Tasmania to encourage cooperation in developing or implementing management plans/guidelines for the sites. The relevant local governments will be made aware of the sites’ values and, as new planning schemes are prepared, PWS will recommend appropriate controls on land use in the sites’ catchments.

New South Wales
Macquarie Marshes Nature Reserve There have been some changes in the ecological character of the Macquarie Marshes, primarily in the area outside the Ramsar boundary and associated with changes in water availability. Since the preparation and implementation of the Macquarie Marshes Water Management Plan 1996 there has been an improvement in the allocation of water to maintain the wetland area. This is expected to prevent the further loss of wetlands in the Marshes. The Water Management Plan identifies key ecological parameters for monitoring as well as key aspects of water supply to the wetlands. There may be some changes in the water monitoring as a result of current statewide review of water monitoring as part of the water reform program.
Towra Point Nature Reserve Towra Point is within an industrialised area and there has been some erosion and instability of sandbank areas which are believed to be associated with altered wave patterns within Botany Bay. A community-initiated temporary stabilisation of erosion at Towra Lagoon was funded by the NSW Government, and as part of the current review of management a review of erosion mitigation measures is being undertaken. The management plan will also address weed and pest control and visitor management.The key ecological processes are also monitored at Towra Point, and the management plan in preparation will reflect these.
Northern Territory
Cobourg Peninsula Aboriginal and Wildlife Sanctuary Cobourg Peninsular is relatively pristine, with strictly controlled visitation and development. The only potential threats come from traditional harvest of biological resources by aboriginal landowners and the activities of prawn trawlers in the surrounding waters. Neither is viewed as a current threat to the Ramsar wetland. The broadscale monitoring of marine habitats will enable detection of changes in ecological character. Intensive monitoring of marine turtle populations has been conducted on Greenhill Island. Monitoring planned for 1998/99 includes broadscale monitoring of marine turtles, broadscale inter- and sub-tidal habitat mapping, a survey of traditional aboriginal use of turtles, and a survey of feral populations of banteng cattle.
Commonwealth
Kakadu National Park While some ecosystem modification occurs within various areas of the Park, caused by feral animals, all Ramsar wetlands within the park remain free from incompatible activities.
Hosnie’s Springs Because of its isolation and inaccessibility there has been little present and past human impact on this Ramsar site. However commencement of a tourist resort on a site on the East coast of Christmas Island near Hosnie Springs may have the potential to impact on this wetland site.
South Australia
Coorong and Lakes Alexandrina and Albert No change in ecological character at present but some threats due to drainage water inputs from the Upper South East Dryland Salinity and Flood Management Scheme.
Coongie Lakes No change in ecological character at present but some threats from proposed alterations to the hydrology of Cooper Creek.
Queensland
Shoalwater and Corio Bays The Military training activities carried out within the vicinity of Shoalwater Bay are managed appropriately to minimise disturbance to the site. Illegal fish netting may be having significant adverse effects upon Dugong populations, however management strategies are being developed with fisheries to counter any adverse impacts. Otherwise there is little disturbance or potential threats to the area.
Moreton Bay The marine part of the Moreton Bay site has a management plan in place and being implemented, but not the terrestrial parts, though management regimes are in place for some areas. Water quality monitoring and other research has been undertaken for Moreton Bay (which allows for ecological change to be detected), but not specifically for Ramsar management or in a form consistent with other Ramsar sites. Water quality scientists who are familiar with the Moreton Bay site consider there has been no overall significant deterioration in the site since it was listed (in November 1993), though there may be slight enlargement of the most degraded areas in western parts of the Bay, eg. in Bramble Bay and Deception Bay, which are not well flushed by oceanic water. Data collected in the Interim Scientific Report mentioned above has shown where deterioration has occurred in specific areas over the last 20-50 years and areas where improvements are required (and initiated).
Bowling Green Bay A Management Plan is being prepared for Bowling Green Bay Ramsar site.
Currawinya Lakes Baseline data for Currawinya, which was listed 1996, has only been recently gathered. A Management Plan is being prepared for Currawinya.

Victoria Victoria is currently preparing management plans for each of the ten listed Ramsar sites. A number of Ramsar sites are covered in part by other plans and strategies which will be considered and integrated, as appropriate, into the Ramsar site plans.

Ramsar management plans due for completion in 1999 will not necessarily contain a comprehensive monitoring component. It is intended that ecological monitoring in each of the ten Ramsar sites will be addressed as an integrated project following completion of the management plans.

Corner Inlet No significant change in ecological character has occurred in the Corner Inlet Ramsar site. Actions taken to maintain or improve its ecological character include the following:

· Control of the introduced marine weed, cord grass (Spartina sp), resulting in a significant reduction of the weed since 1996 in the area treated. Some areas still require treatment and an ongoing control program is in place.

· A project to map seagrass in Corner Inlet is currently being finalised. The mapping will provide a baseline for future seagrass monitoring.

· Fox control on selected barrier islands have reduced the threat to nesting shorebirds such as terns and hooded plovers.

· A fisheries habitat assessment report is being prepared.

Corner Inlet and Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Parks Draft Management Plan 1996 (final plan will be published in late 1998).

Barmah Forest Long term changes in ecological character in Barmah Forest are primarily attributed to changed water regimes, timber harvesting and cattle grazing. These impacts and uses were established at the time of Ramsar listing in 1982. Further ecological change has not generally been significant since listing.

Regulation of the Murray River upstream of Barmah has changed the timing, frequency and duration of flooding in the forest. In 1993, an annual 100 GL environmental water allocation was made for Barmah Forest and the adjoining Millewa Forest in New South Wales. An environmental water entitlement is close to finalisation with an additional 50 GL annual entitlement sought for Barmah/Millewa and negotiations proceeding with New South Wales to allow the allocation to be accumulated for more than one year, allowing more flexibility in managing the watering regime. A business plan for water management is due for completion by the end of 1998.

The Barmah Forest has been grazed by livestock since 1840 with grazing restricted to cattle since 1885. Grazing is managed under agistment permits and grazing licences. The Barmah State Park and Barmah State Forest Management Plan (1992) sets prescriptions for grazing within the forest. A study of cattle grazing in the forest was completed in 1996 but the results were inconclusive. There has been no change to the management of grazing since 1996.

The proposed Mid Murray Forest Management Plan is close to finalisation and includes strategies to maintain a sustainable resource base for forest-dependent industries together with strategies to protect biodiversity and other natural and cultural values.

Management Planning:

Barmah State Park and Barmah State Forest Management Plan 1992

Barmah-Millewa Forest Water Management Plan 1992

Final Report on Barmah-Millewa Forest Water Management Plan 1994

Interim Water Management Strategy for Barmah Forest 1994.

Mid Murray Forest Draft Management Plan in prep (due 1998)

Gunbower Forest As for Barmah, long term changes in ecological character in Gunbower are primarily attributed to changed water regimes, and a long history of timber harvesting and livestock grazing. There has been no significant change in ecological character since listing in 1982. The general management of Gunbower as a Ramsar site is being addressed through the current Ramsar site management planning process with timber harvesting and forest management also being addressed in the preparation of the Mid Murray Forest Management Plan. A water entitlement is currently being finalised for Gunbower.

Management Planning:

Mid Murray Forest Draft Management Plan in prep (due 1998)

An Interim Water Management Strategy for Gunbower Forest 1993

Torrumbarry East of Loddon (TEOL) Catchment Management Plan Environmental Report 1994

Hattah Kulkyne Lakes Prior to listing in 1982, some long term change in ecological character in the Hattah Kulkyne Lakes occurred, primarily due to changed water regimes in the Murray River and modifications in the Hattah Lakes system. However, the Lakes are in relatively good ecological condition with no significant change in the years since Ramsar listing in 1982. Toxic algal blooms do occur in the Lakes, apparently after they are recharged with water from the Murray River. The Mallee Parks Management Plan 1996 sets out strategies for restoring a more natural water regime and managing algal blooms.

Management planning:

Wimmera Heritage River Draft Management Plan 1997

Mallee Parks Management Plan 1996

Interim Water Management Strategy 1992

Mallee Landcare Plan 1993

Mallee Dryland Salinity Management Plan Environmental Report 1993

Kerang Wetlands Historically, the Kerang Lakes have undergone significant changes in water regime since the development of the Torrumbarry Irrigation System in 1896. After the upgrading of the system in 1923, land salinisation became a major problem and shallow water tables became widespread leading to an increase in the salinity levels in many of the wetlands. Since being listed as a Ramsar site in 1982, further ecological change has not generally been significant, except in the case of Lake Tutchewop.

Since 1968, Lake Tutchewop has been managed as a part of a salinity interception scheme to reduce saline water entering the Murray. Salinity levels in Lake Tutchewop were 91,000 Ecs in 1994, estimated at 125,000 Ecs in 1995 and have remained high since. Despite high salinity levels, Lake Tutchewop continues to provide habitat diversity within the Kerang Lakes system and provides habitat for waterbirds such as migratory wader and supports populations of invertebrates, such as brine shrimp. An investigation into the technical aspects of operating the salinity interception scheme has been completed as an internal report to Goulburn Murray Water. The options for the future management of Lake Tutchewop are currently being considered. Under the present operating regime, salinity in Lake Tutchewop is expected to continue to increase until saturation level is reached in the medium to long term.

Several actions have been taken to maintain or improve ecological character in the Kerang Lakes site. Several wetlands are now included in an Environmental Watering Program in which an environmental water allocation is used to restore more natural water regimes. Natural or near-natural water regimes will improve ecological processes in these wetlands. As part of this program, structures are also being built to facilitate water manipulation, including flushing of wetlands to improve water quality.

A sill which kept water artificially high in the summer and autumn in The Marshes system (part of the Kerang Wetlands site) was removed several years ago. High water levels had led to widespread tree death, but with the removal of the sill, trees fringing these wetlands are now regenerating.

Management Planning:

Avoca/Loddon/Campaspe Landcare Plan 1993, Kerang Lakes Salinity Management Plan 1992

Town Swamp Recreation Development Plan 1995

Kerang Lakes Environmental Flows 1995

MDBC Salt Disposal Strategy.

Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula No significant ecological change has occurred at the Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsular site. An Environmental Management Plan for Port Phillip Bay is currently being prepared in line with the requirements of the revised SEPP.

The development of the East Coast Armaments Complex (ECAC) at Point Wilson within the Ramsar site is being considered following an environmental impact assessment by the Commonwealth. The proposed ECAC is on the site of a former armaments store which has operated since before the 1982 nomination for Ramsar listing.

A 1994 decision by the Victorian Government to relocate a chemical storage facility from its present site at Coode Island to Point Lillias in the Ramsar site was reversed in 1997 and the chemical storage facility at Point Lillias will now not proceed.

Lake Borrie is managed by the Melbourne Water Corporation as part of the Western Treatment Plant. The lake comprises part of a series of artificial lagoons on the site of a former complex of wetland and dryland habitats. The Lake Borrie treatment system is the most important part of the wetland habitat provided by the Treatment Plant. The coastline adjacent to Lake Borrie is also part of the Ramsar site and the site for the discharge of treated waste water from the treatment system into Port Phillip Bay. This segment of the coastline is important habitat for migratory waders.

The Victorian Environment Protection Authority have proposed changes to the licence conditions in 2005 for discharge of waste water from the treatment plant to the bay. The lower nutrient levels required under the new licence will benefit water quality in the Bay but, at a more localised level, may affect waterbird usage and abundance in the vicinity of Lake Borrie. Melbourne Water Corporation will commission two studies over three years commencing in 1998/99 to investigate the likely impact of the changed licence conditions on migratory shorebirds and waterfowl in the lagoon system and along the adjacent shoreline. Variations on the operational parameters for achieving the licence conditions and maintaining environmental values will be examined.

The Environment Conservation Council of Victoria is carrying out an investigation of Victoria’s marine, coastal and estuarine areas. In the Marine, Coastal and Estuarine Interim Report 1998 the Council recommended a Port Phillip Heads Marine Park with Mud Islands and Swan Bay (part of the Port Phillip Bay and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar site) recommended as Sanctuary Zones. The recommendation is currently being considered by the Government.

Management planning:

Making the Most of the Bay 1990

Environmental Management Plan for Port Phillip Bay in prep.

Pt Cook Coastal Park Cheetham Wetlands Draft Strategy Plan 1995

Swan Bay Marine and Wildlife Reserves Proposed Management Plan 1990

Lake Connewarre State Game Reserve Management Plan 1993

Draft Management Plan for Mud Islands (in prep)

Western Port Western Port has not undergone significant ecological changes since listing in 1982. However, the possible development of a bulk oil storage terminal adjacent to the Ramsar site has prompted planning to address potential issues.

Other actions taken to maintain or improve ecological character in Western Port include the following.

· A project to map seagrass is proposed to provide a baseline for future seagrass monitoring.

· A fisheries habitat assessment report is being prepared.

· The exotic cord grass, Spartina sp, introduced in the 1930s occurs in the mouth of the Bass River. The Bass River infestation has not yet been controlled but other small infestations in the Bay are controlled as they are detected, notably an infestation in the San Remo Marine Community in 1996 and 1997.

· Codium fragile ssp tomentosoides, an introduced algal subspecies, was found in the San Remo Marine Community in 1998. An eradication program and has since been undertaken.

· The Western Port Schedule to the State Environment Protection Policy: Waters of Victoria is currently being reviewed.

· A Coastal Action Plan is planned for Western Port which will review the existing Western Port Bay Strategy (1992).

Management planning:

Western Port Bay Strategy 1992

Western District Lakes No significant ecological change has occurred at Lake Murdeduke, Lake Bookar, Lake Gnarpurt, Lake Milangil, Lake Beeac, Lake Cundare and Lake Terangpom. Actions planned or taken at these sites to improve ecological character or ameliorate threatening processes include:

· Lake Murdeduke - a feasibility study to address erosion problems;

· Lake Gnarpurt - planned removal of grazing to part of the lake margin;

· Lake Milangil and Lake Cundare - removal of Box Thorn to aid pest control;

· Lake Beeac Draft Catchment Management Strategy 1997 and Lake Beeac Catchment Plan Recommendations 1998

· Lake Colongulac - the discharge of industrial effluent from a dairy produce factory into Lake Colongulac was diverted from the lake to land disposal in 1996. An abattoir which discharged waste water into the lake has also ceased operation. The water quality in the lake is expected to slowly improve, although treated sewage from Camperdown continues to be discharged into the lake.

Algal blooms have continued in Lake Corangamite since an unplanned temporary shutdown of the Woady Yallock Diversion Scheme in 1993 and 1994 which resulted in the inflow of a large volume of high nutrient runoff from agricultural land in the catchment. High nutrient runoff also continues to come from other small tributaries in the catchment. A nutrient management strategy is currently being prepared by the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority.

The Woady Yallock Diversion Scheme normally diverts natural water inflow away from Lake Corangamite to maintain the lake at a level where surrounding freehold grazing land is not inundated. Salinity which dropped from very high levels (111,600 Ec in 1991) with the temporary shutdown of the scheme to pre-disturbance levels (39,800 Ec in 1993) are now rising again (70,500 Ec in April 1998). No changes to the operation of the diversion scheme are proposed in the short term.

Management planning:

Nutrient Management Strategy in preparation for Lake Corangamite Catchment

Management Strategy for the Water Resources of South-West Victoria 1990

Lake Murdeduke Draft Management Plan 1992

Lake Milangil Wetland Proposed Management Plan 1993

Lake Colongulac Draft Management Plan 1993

Lake Beeac Draft Management Plan 1992

Lake Beeac Catchment Management Plan 1998

Gippsland Lakes Long term changes in ecological character in the Gippsland Lakes are primarily attributed to changed water and salinity regimes associated with the permanent artificial entrance to the lakes opened in 1889 and reduced water quality associated with catchment run-off. There has been no significant change in ecological character since listing in 1982. A proposal to develop a major tourist resort on a 258 hectare site adjoining Lake Reeve (part of the Gippsland Lakes Ramsar site) did not proceed. The development site has recently been sold.

Actions planned or taken at these sites to improve ecological character include:

· A Coastal Action Plan is being prepared for the Gippsland Lakes which will review the existing Gippsland Lakes Strategy (1990) addressing issues such as water quality integrated catchment management.

· A project to map seagrass in the Gippsland Lakes has been completed. The mapping will provide a baseline for future seagrass monitoring.

· A fisheries habitat assessment report has been completed.

· A joint initiative between Parks Victoria, the local council and the local water authority has been commenced to undertake works at McLeods Morass to improve the water regime and water quality by better managing water flow and controlling nutrient input. Over many years, high nutrient input from effluent from the Bairnsdale Treatment Plant and run-off from saleyards has reduced water quality in the Morass.

· A significant boundary fencing program has been undertaken at McLeods Morass to prevent uncontrolled access by grazing livestock along the wetland margins.

Management planning:

Gippsland Lakes Strategy 1990

LaTrobe Valley Waste Water Review 1990

Lake Wellington Catchment Salinity Management Plan

Lake Wellington Wetlands Draft Management Plan 1997

Lake Tyers Foreshore Plan

The Lakes National Park Draft Management Plan 1996 (final due 1998

Lake Albacutya Lake Albacutya is one of a series of terminal lakes on the Wimmera River. Over several decades, over-commitment of flows for agricultural and domestic purposes has reduced the frequency and extent of natural flooding. Severe dieback of the River Red Gum and Black Box communities is continuing at Lake Albacutya. This is attributed to rising groundwater levels, increasingly saline groundwater and reduced occurrence of floodwaters and contributes to a loss of breeding habitat for threatened parrot species. Lakebed herbfields are being replaced by annual weeds as a result of infrequent flooding.

The Wimmera Heritage River Draft Management Plan 1997 outlines a number of strategies to ameliorate the situation, including processes for allocating water savings made as a result of an ongoing program to pipe stock and domestic supplies and initiation of a bulk water entitlement conversion process for the Wimmera River system in 1998. However, while further long term reduction of flows will be prevented, there is unlikely to be a noticeable gain of environmental water for Lake Albacutya.

Management planning:

Wimmera River Integrated Catchment Management Strategy 1992

Mallee regional Landcare Plan 1993

Mallee Dryland Salinity Management Plan Environmental Report 1993

Mallee Parks Management Plan 1996

Wimmera Regional Catchment Strategy 1997

Wimmera Heritage River Draft Management Plan 1997

Western Australia Assessment of change in ecological character of most Ramsar listed wetlands in Western Australia has been inhibited by the lack of comprehensive monitoring programs. To address this need, the Department of Conservation and Land Management has developed a draft options paper for such a program with funding from Environment Australia (Storey et al. 1997). Changes in ecological character may be occurring at five of the nine Ramsar listed wetlands in Western Australia. Details are listed below.
Lake Argyle This is an artificial wetland formed in 1972 by damming of the Ord River. In 1995 the spillway crest on the dam was raised by 6 m to increase water storage for a hydro-electric power station. This will result in greater fluctuations in water levels and an average 1m increase in water levels of the Lake (Western Australian Department of Agriculture 1995). It has been recommended that research and monitoring programs be established to examine changes in the Lake’s biota in response to the hydrological changes, also to examine the impact of livestock (Watkins et al. 1997).
Eighty mile Beach Eighty Mile Beach: Part (80 000 ha) of this Ramsar site includes a large lake bed and a chain of mound springs with unique vegetation associations (Mandora Marshes). Most of this area is within a cattle grazing lease. Cattle congregate at some of the springs to drink and consequently serious detrimental impact has occurred (Watkins et al. 1997). Action has recently been taken, in cooperation with the lessee, to fence cattle away from the springs. Additional fencing is proposed.

 

Peel-Yalgorup Peel-Yalgorup System: In the 1970s it was recognised that the Peel-Harvey Estuary was becoming eutrophic due to input of agro-chemicals (fertiliser) via ruff-off from agricultural land in the catchment. To address this problem, input of agro-chemicals has been reduced and a channel has been constructed from the Estuary to the Indian Ocean to increase flushing (Bradby 1997). Initial results from the first two years of monitoring have shown that the Estuary has changed from a dominantly fresh/brackish to a dominantly marine system (DA Lord and Associates in prep.).

Changes in land use adjacent to the Ramsar-listed lakes of Yalgorup National Park may cause changes in the water balance of the lakes and increased nutrient levels in the groundwater. Consequently, thrombolites that occur in Lake Clifton have now been formally recognised by the Department of Conservation and Land Management as a threatened ecological community. Criteria for the environmental acceptability of land use proposals within the catchment of Lake Clifton have been developed to protect the thrombolites (Environmental Protection Authority 1995).

Lake Toolibin This is one of the last wooded lakes in the inland south-west of Australia to remain as a fresh-brackish ecosystem: most other such wetlands have become saline due to agricultural development. Change has been occurring in the ecological character of Lake Toolibin due to the impact of salinity and waterlogging in the catchment. The Department of Conservation and Land Management is coordinating implementation of a recovery plan aimed at reversing the deterioration in species diversity and vegetative cover (Bowman Bishaw Gorham et al. 1992). The project is linked to the Salinity Action Plan and has Commonwealth funding support from the Natural Heritage Trust.
Vasse-Wonnerup System The major threats to the ecological character of the two main water bodies are high nutrient levels due to run-off from agricultural and possibly urban lands, urban development on the fringing wetlands and changes to the management of water levels. An inter-agency working group chaired by the Department of Conservation and Land Management has been formed to address the water level management issue. In 1997 a local catchment-coordinating body GeoCatch was established to work with landholders and the local community to better manage the catchments of Vasse-Wonnerup and adjacent Geographe Bay.



Appendix 5 - Specific Comments from the Australian Wetlands Alliance

Commendations

AWA acknowledges with appreciation the readiness of the national government to allow this organisation to make free and frank comment on the policies and implementation strategies proposed by Australia in response to the Ramsar Convention. In particular, we acknowledge the major role played by Australia at the last Ramsar Conference in championing the involvement of NGOs in wetlands conservation.

Box 2 AWA recognises the efforts of the Wetlands Unit of Environment Australia to advance wetlands related projects through other funding opportunities.

Table 3 The NSW Government should be commended for its decision through the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to prevent the discharge of licensed pollutants into wetlands. The development of tiered penalties for pollution offences (Environmental Offences and Penalties Act) which recognise the need to establish management accountability is also commended.

Table 6 The AWA acknowledges the role that industry has to play in the support of conservation. Industries are beginning to recognise the importance of sustainability: a number of groups are working with conservation NGOs to develop strategies and actions to minimise, and in some cases redress, environmental impacts.

The support by the Victorian government for the development of voluntary protective covenants is commended. AWA is concerned that all wetlands conservation covenants be protected in perpetuity.

7.4 AWA wishes to commend the Government on the development of a multi lateral shorebird agreement which includes non-Ramsar signatories in wetlands conservation.

9 The AWA gratefully acknowledges the support the Government is providing in funding the AWA Secretariat for the period preceding CoP7, and the opportunity to include an NGO representative on the official delegation team.

Dissenting Comments

2 Significant detail is provided regarding policy and legislative development by the Commonwealth and State governments. There is, however, a lack of corresponding detail concerning the implementation of these policies and changes to practices which impact on wetlands suggesting non-performance by the governments of Australia.

2.1 It is stated in the "Wetlands Policy of the Commonwealth Government" (page 24) that development of an Implementation Plan for the policy will be in "...consultation with stakeholders...". The AWA is concerned that consultation of the broader community has not occurred during the development of this plan.

Table 2 Queensland’s Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995 contains a number of limitations that must be addressed before the State Coastal Management Plan can be developed and implemented in a comprehensive manner.

In NSW, the Coastal Policy 1997 does not include urban areas: local government authorities are not in a position to determine the total impact and cumulative effects of Local Environment Plans on the State’s coastline. This represents a serious omission since most of the NSW coast has the potential to be impacted by urban development. Further, statutory policy and legislation for the rehabilitation of wetlands in NSW is reactive. As a result rehabilitation is limited in its scope and area. There are no provisions for wetlands to be rehabilitated unless they are recently damaged or altered. The legislation impedes pro-active rehabilitation by putting significant planning hurdles in the way, and by not providing the appropriate funds to help counteract these requirements.

2.10 Intervention by the Commonwealth (possible under constitutional Powers of External Affairs, Section 51) has not occurred. The Federal Government’s ‘hands-off’ policy forfeits an ongoing opportunity for appropriate intervention by the Commonwealth; especially when discharging its obligations as a contracting party to the Ramsar Convention.

2.11 In addition to reviewing wetland restoration efforts that have been, or are currently being undertaken, the Commonwealth should, through the National Wetlands Program, encourage State and Territory governments to identify and cost opportunities to restore wetlands, publish inventories of candidate sites and commence restoration programs.

2.11 The work undertaken in the Northern Territory whilst being commendable, actually establishes the capacity to monitor coastal wetland decline rather than constituting the mobilisation of resources for restoration or rehabilitation.

2.11 There has been no mobilisation of resources for wetland areas of north Queensland suffering infestations of rubber vine.

Table 5 The continued emphasis on the Mary River Integrated Catchment Management Plan by the government of the Northern Territory suggests an absence of action on other catchments.

4.1 The National Wetlands Advisory Committee has not been re-convened during this last term of government, although members have not been notified of its demise.

5.4 Despite the emphasis of Australian governments on the development of management plans rather than the listing of sites on the Montreux Record, Appendix 3 indicates that 17 sites currently have no management plan and 16 sites are only partially covered by a management plan.

5.5 Environmental Flows and saline groundwater

Despite a number of isolated instances, there has been little progress towards implementation of comprehensive, coordinated strategies to restore environmental flows or to reverse the threat of rising saline groundwater to wetlands conservation. The failure of Queensland Government to incorporate environmental flow requirements, and its 1997 release of a $2 billion Infrastructure Plan which proposes construction of more than 50 dam, weir and other infrastructure developments, is particularly disheartening.

Conservation of Peatlands

Despite the conservation of peat wetlands being a major topic of discussion at the 6th Ramsar meeting, Australian governments have made little progress towards their conservation since the Australian Capital Territory nominated Ginini Flats Subalpine Bog Complex as a Ramsar Site in 1996. There is concern that "…alternatives to peat harvesting…" (Commonwealth Wetlands Policy) has not been considered by Commonwealth and State agencies, or the business sector. NSW government legislation has failed to prevent the degradation of the Wingecarribee Swamp peatlands, resulting in severe degradation of the wetland, and longstanding impacts on downstream water quality.

Prevention of the introduction of exotic species

More progress should be made towards preventing the introduction of exotic species by requiring that all proposed imports of such species be assessed under the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974. In addition, the National Coordinating Committee on Aquatic Weeds should be reinstated and requested to provide an updated appraisal of the threat to wetlands of introduced aquatic plants.

6.2 While A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia is a significant initiative it is highly likely that a number of "important" wetlands have not been included due to a lack of inventory data. Funding needs to be made available to support the collection of primary data for wetlands about which we know little, particularly for wetland types (per bioregion) that are poorly represented in the Directory.

6.4 & 6.5 The lack of detail provided regarding the intention of Australian governments to nominate further wetlands to the Ramsar List in 1999 indicates little real progress has been made towards addressing Resolutions VI.2 and VI.5, Recommendations 6.1 and 6.7 nor Strategic Plan Action 6.2.3.

7.3 It is imperative that synergy be sought between the listed Conventions. Whilst the Report text acknowledges this, no mechanisms to do so are described. Specific work plans with targets, outputs, and deadlines should be developed to coordinate their implementation both internationally and in Australia.

9.2 In consideration of the diversity of conservation issues and distance which separates regional groups, an ongoing forum which allows NGO input into wetlands issues would be appropriate. The re-instatement of the NWAC, or some form of continued funding to maintain communication links, would greatly assist the conservation of Australia’s wetlands.

Appendix 3

Site 35 Forrestdale and Thompsons Lakes

There are no current management plans for either of these lakes. A new plan for Thompson's Lake has been initiated, as part of the Beelier Regional Park Management Plan, but no action has been taken to revise Forrestdale Lake's lapsed plan.

Site 41 Moreton Bay

The Marine Parks (Moreton Bay) Zoning Plan 1997 recognises the environmental values that warranted listing of Moreton Bay as a Ramsar site, however there are still issues to be addressed. As well as marine park management, there is a range of other legislation that applies to the conduct of activities and works in a marine area. Also there is the need for further planning to take account the shorebird roost sites that are outside the Marine Park, ie. above highest astronomical tide (HAT) or on freehold land.

Site 33 & 36

The proposal in 1996 National Report to develop appropriate exclusion zones and conservation reserves which include marine components of Roebuck Bay Ramsar sites and small areas within Peel Inlet in the Peel-Yalgorup Ramsar site has not occurred.

Appendix 4

Two of the three areas in Australia of outstanding importance to shorebirds are Eighty Mile Beach and Roebuck Bay. Both of these are Ramsar sites but are not within conservation reserves. Further threats to the Roebuck Bay and Eighty Mile Beach sites are proposals to farm cotton in the western Kimberley. There is insufficient information on the potential impacts of ground water extraction for irrigated cotton on the maintenance of these sites. Adequate protection status for Roebuck Bay and Eighty Mile Beach is urgently needed.

Threats to the Peel-Yalgorup Ramsar site, including the increasing development of the area around Lake McLarty, may be inappropriate given the potential impacts upon waders.

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