World Wetlands Day 2004 -- Australia -- Victoria

02/02/2004

World Wetlands Day
RAMSAR
From the Mountains to the Sea
Wetlands at work for Us

Held on the 31 January 2004
In the City of Whittlesea, Victoria, Australia

Habitat Conservation Report No.1/2004
Metropolitan Branch of Field and Game Australia

INTRODUCTION

From the mountains to the sea, wetlands work for us. Yet they still are drained, polluted, over-exploited and under-valued.

At this time each year groups from around the world convey to the world at large that our wetlands have a value and must be protected.

This day marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on the 2nd February 1971, in the Iranian City of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. WWD was first celebrated in 1997.
Please take the time to visit the Ramsar Website there is a lot we can all learn about the value of wetlands. (Web site, ramsar.org)

PURPOSE
These simple reports that I put out from time to time are aimed to inform, educate and promote partnerships and alliances with people and groups from all walks of life.

WEATHER: This year as we sat in our cars the rain kept coming down and down and down, it was just great. As we moved into the wetlands the rain ceased to fall although overcast conditions prevailed.
If you remember last year at this time we had Sunny, slight smoke haze due to bush fires in the north/east of Victoria, Australia.

Comment: Australia is unique as we have experienced a period of years that have been drier than normal, but as we move through cycles this summer is clearly showing that the cycle has shifted with floods through Queensland and into New South Wales. Victoria has had very mild conditions with recent heavy rains in southern Victoria causing floods in many areas. I just love rain, why? because our wetlands are filling up with fresh, clean, clear water.

COMMENCED: 9-05am

DATE: Saturday, 31st January 2004

LOCATION: Morang Wetlands, South Morang, City of Whittlesea, Victoria, Australia.

GENERAL REPORT
As we set off the rain kept coming down. We moved in convoy into the Morang Wetlands and took time to view waterfowl that had remained even though water levels were low in the marshlands and the seasonal wetland had dried out. In Australia this is not unusual as the wetting and drying of our great wetlands is part of a common cycle that when conditions are right (rain event) will stimulate another breeding cycle for our water birds.

We put on our gum boots and waders and moved into the marshlands and commenced to clean out nest boxes by refreshing each nest box with new clean straw in preparation for next breeding season which will commence around August 2004. This work is aimed at improving the efficiency of each nest box whilst educating the general community and informing all levels of government.

We have been fortunate to have as two visitors today Gary and Lorain Benson. Gary as a young boy (his family owned the land that we now know Morang Wetlands) and his father and grandfather worked the land with a dairy herd so today's visit was a special time and brought back many memories.

Weeds and thistles were cleared around nest boxes to assist access while monitoring each nest box which is undertaken every 21 days. Monitoring at this time of year is required to stop the breeding of Victoria's most destructive introduced species the Indian Myna. (Acridotheres tristis) a species native to Asia and introduced in the 1860's. This species is a major threat to our native bird of Australia and I have seen them attack a Chestnut Teal (Anas castanea) inside a "Hilton Deluxe" nest box and drive them out.
Our visit was eventful as we saw three Japanese snipe (Gallinago hardwickii) which visit the area as part of their migratory pattern.
As a volunteer group, funding is obtained through grants, both local and state governments and through donations. Materials are purchased, a cutting day is held with members and nest boxes are assembled by young Australians from La Trobe University Lifeskills.

Metropolitan Branch of Field and Game Australians managed by members of the City of Whittlesea community and have over 500 current members.

A great morning was had by all.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Many thanks for the ongoing support of all staff of Morang Wetlands (Parks Victoria) including Terry Redenbach and Brendan Sullivan.

Mission Statement

Field and Game Australia is a voluntary organisation formed by hunters. We partner with Government and the community in the management and sustainable utilisation of Australia's wetlands for future generation by protecting game habitats through conservation. We promote responsible firearm ownership, ethical hunting and clay target shooting. For further information about Field and Game Australia log onto our website www.fga.net.au

As conservationists/hunters we place value on the worlds wetlands.

What can you do for our wetlands in 2004 that will make a difference?

"Don't just talk about Habitat Conservation get out there and do it"

John Caven
Conservation Officer / Secretary, Metropolitan Branch, Field and Game Australia
Secretary, Game Management Council of Victoria, Australia.

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From the left: Lorain & Gary Benson, Leo Rutter, Adam Dal Par, Nicolas & Stephanie Rutter placing clean straw in nest box and their dad Anthony Rutter Conservation Officer, Greenvale Branch of Field and Game Australia.

From the left: Nicholas & Stephanie Rutter and Adam Dal Par

Photo No. 1576 - From the left: Adam Dal Par, Leo Rutter, Anthony Rutter Conservation Officer, Greenvale Branch of Field and Game Australia, Stephanie & Nicholas Rutter, Lorain Benson, Mario DePasquale, Clay Target Coordinator from the Metropolitan Branch of Field & Game Australia and Gary Benson.

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,181 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,545,658

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