Australia enacts landmark legislation to protect Ramsar sites and migratory birds
1 General principles
1.01 The primary purpose of management of a declared Ramsar wetland must be, in accordance with the Ramsar Convention:
(a) to describe and maintain the ecological character of the wetland; and
(b) to formulate and implement planning that promotes:
(i) conservation of the wetland; and
(ii) wise and sustainable use of the wetland for the benefit of humanity in a way that is compatible with maintenance of the natural properties of the ecosystem.
1.02 Wetland management should provide for public consultation on decisions and actions that may have a significant impact on the wetland.
1.03 Wetland management should make special provision, if appropriate, for the involvement of people who:
(a) have a particular interest in the wetland; and
(b) may be affected by the management of the wetland.
1.04 Wetland management should provide for continuing community and technical input.
2 Management planning
2.01 At least 1 management plan should be prepared for each declared Ramsar wetland.
2.02 A management plan for a declared Ramsar wetland should:
(a) describe its ecological character; and
(b) state the characteristics that make it a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention; and
(c) state what must be done to maintain its ecological character; and
(d) promote its conservation and sustainable use for the benefit of humanity in a way that is compatible with maintenance of the natural properties of the ecosystem; and
(e) state mechanisms to deal with the impacts of actions that individually or cumulatively endanger its ecological character, including risks arising from:
(i) physical loss, modification or encroachment on the wetland; or
(ii) loss of biodiversity; or
(iii) pollution and nutrient input; or
(iv) changes to water regimes; or
(v) utilisation of resources; or
(vi) introduction of invasive species; and
(f) state whether the wetland needs restoration or rehabilitation; and
(g) if restoration or rehabilitation is needed explain how the plan provides for restoration or rehabilitation; and
(h) provide for continuing monitoring and reporting on the state of its ecological character; and
(i) be based on an integrated catchment management approach; and
(j) include adequate processes for public consultation on the elements of the plan; and
(k) be reviewed at intervals of not more than 7 years.
3 Environmental impact assessment and approval
3.01 This principle applies to the assessment of an action that is likely to have a significant impact on the ecological character of a Ramsar wetland (whether the action is to occur inside the wetland or not).
3.02 Before the action is taken, the likely environmental impact of the action on the wetlands ecological character should be assessed under a statutory environmental impact assessment and approval process.
3.03 The assessment process should:
(a) identify any part of the ecological character of the wetland that is likely to be affected by the action; and
(b) examine how the ecological character of the wetland might be affected; and
(c) provide adequate opportunity for public consultation.
3.04 An action should not be approved if it would be inconsistent with:
(a) maintaining the ecological character of the wetland; or
(b) providing for the conservation and sustainable use of the wetland.
3.05 Approval of the action should be subject to conditions, if necessary, to ensure that the ecological character of the wetland is maintained.
3.06 The action should be monitored by the authority responsible for giving the approval (or another appropriate authority) and, if necessary, enforcement action should be taken to ensure compliance with the conditions.