Wetlands are one of South Australia's most important natural assets. We've already lost 70% of our wetlands, so the conservation, sustainable management and restoration of the remaining ones are key issues for our state.
SA wetlands strategy
The wetlands strategy for South Australia provides a framework for the sustainable use of our wetland ecosystems. Its goal is to see wetlands recognised and managed as ecological and community assets for the benefit of present and future generations.
The practical objectives are to:
- manage wetlands as integrated parts of natural resource management at local, regional, state, national and international scales
- support the care, rehabilitation, restoration or creation, of wetlands by the private and public sectors
- improve community understanding of wetlands as natural assets
- identify wetlands which are important at the regional, state, national and international levels, and make sure they are appropriately managed and protected
- develop, maintain, and make readily accessible to all, a comprehensive inventory of South Australia's wetlands.
Wetlands of national significance
Nationally significant wetlands are listed in the Directory of important wetlands in Australia (2001, 3rd Edition).
A wetland may be considered nationally important if it meets at least one of the following criteria:
- it is a good example of a wetland type occurring within a biogeographic region in Australia
- it is a wetland that plays an important ecological or hydrological role in the natural functioning of a major wetland system/complex
- the wetland provides habitat for animals at a vulnerable stage in their life cycle, or it provides a refuge when adverse conditions such as drought prevail
- the wetland supports 1 percent or more of the national population of any native plant or animal
- the wetland supports native plants or animals or communities which are considered endangered or vulnerable at the national level
- the wetland is of outstanding historical or cultural significance.
There are over 850 nationally significant wetlands in Australia. South Australia has nominated 84 of these.
Wetland inventory is ongoing and many wetlands remain to be assessed or recognised as internationally or nationally important.
Ramsar international convention
As a signatory to the Ramsar Convention treaty, Australia is required to nominate wetlands of international importance and ensure the wise use of all wetlands.
Its broad aim is to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and to conserve those that remain. This requires international cooperation, policy making, capacity building and technology transfer.
Australia has 65 Ramsar wetlands of international importance. There are six in South Australia:
- Coorong, Lakes Albert and Lake Alexandrina (DEWNR is managing the drought recovery of this site through Coorong, Murray Mouth and Lower Lakes projects)
- Bool and Hacks Lagoons
- Riverland (of which the Chowilla Floodplain is a part)
- Coongie Lakes
- Piccaninnie Ponds
- Banrock Station Wetland Complex (the only one in South Australia held completely in private ownership).