Australia names four new Ramsar sites
As promised at the COP in May, Australia has now designated the 992nd through 995th Wetlands of International Importance, all effective 14 June 1999. Here are a few brief notes on them, drawn from their very complete Ramsar Information Sheets.
Great Sandy Strait (including Great Sandy Strait, Tin Can Bay, and Tin Can Inlet), Queensland, 93,160 hectares: a sand passage estuary between the mainland and the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island; the largest area of tidal swamps within the Southeast Queensland bioregion, consisting of intertidal sand and mud flats, extended seagrass beds, mangrove forests, salt flats, and saltmarshes, and often contiguous with freshwater Melaleuca wetlands and coastal wallum swamps; an exceptionally important feeding ground for migratory shorebirds and important for a wide range of other shorebirds, waterfowl and seabirds, marine fish, crustaceans, oysters, dugong, sea turtles, and dolphins. Evidence of Aboriginal presence dates back 5500 years and indigenous fishing was and still is a major activity.
Gwydir Wetlands: Gingham and Lower Gwydir (Big Leather) Watercourses, New South Wales, 823 hectares within a much larger wetland system in the Murray-Darling drainage system. The listed areas are entirely privately-owned and grow out of a Memorandum of Understanding signed on World Wetlands Day 1999 by four landowning families and officials of the State and Commonwealth governments, the World Wide Fund for Nature, and the National Parks Association. An article on this Web site provides more details and photographs (http://ramsar.org/caxref:4227).
Myall Lakes, New South Wales, 44,612 hectares: lies within the Myall Lakes National Park and includes the Corrie Island and Little Broughton Island Nature Reserves, one of the few coastal brackish lake systems in NSW which has not been greatly modified by human activities. The area is renowned for its floristic diversity (over 600 species of plants) and complex variety of habitats, which is largely due to differences in substrate. An extremely popular tourist destination featuring water-based recreational activities, and thus an economic engine for a number of towns in the region.
Narran Lake Nature Reserve, New South Wales, 5,531 hectares: covers part of a large terminal wetland of the Narran River in NSW at the end of the Condamine River system which flows from Queensland. Very high traditional, as well as contemporary, social and spiritual significance to the Aboriginal people. Internationally significant for waterbird breeding and as habitat for species, including a number that are listed under the Japan-Australia and China-Australia Migratory Bird Agreements (JAMBA and CAMBA).