Victoria’s globally recognised Ramsar wetlands are a biodiversity paradise for our environment and the habitat and wildlife that call these magical places home. Thanks to Melbourne Water, they continue to flourish as the world acknowledges World Wetlands Day.
Marking World Wetlands Day, Melbourne Water is one of the State’s largest land managers. It is responsible for protecting and enhancing wetlands comprising over 81,000 hectares – eight times larger than Phillip Island.
The Western Port embayment and coastal wetlands of Port Phillip Bay’s western shoreline are listed as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, as are the freshwater wetlands in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs – the Edithvale-Seaford wetlands.
These are important feeding grounds and nurseries for land, marine and freshwater animals.
As part of its Healthy Waterways Strategy, Melbourne Water is responsible for the care of the wetlands and ongoing education of the community to better understand the value of these critical waterways.
“We are obligated to look after our wetlands sites, to be an advocate for all our natural environments in the region, and to provide leadership and guidance to the community, to our partners and other stakeholders to ensure their future is secure,” Andrew Morrison, Melbourne Water Senior Asset Planner, Land and Catchments, said.
“Melbourne Water works in partnership with all the relevant people and stakeholders, whether this be Government, local councils, Parks Victoria, Traditional Owners or ‘friends of’ interest groups, to ensure we’re all working together to deliver the same outcomes when it comes to the protection and enhancement of the wetlands.”
Melbourne Water is involved in a wide range of projects that add value to our wetlands. These range from the management of invasive pest plants, improving the wetlands’ hydrological regimes, the removal of introduced predators for the protection of native animals, revegetation, and the installation of shellfish reefs and restoration of mangrove forests in support of marine life – to name a few.
“Wetlands are the lungs of the natural world, so many native species rely on the water, on the invertebrates; it’s a massive food web providing an abundance of natural resources for our wildlife,” Morrison added.
“Melbourne Water has a responsibility to do everything we can to enhance the wetlands and protect wildlife and marine life habitat, and ensure our wetlands – or our managed sites – continue to thrive.”
In recognition of World Wetlands Day, Morrison hopes that this important day will inspire more people to enjoy the wetlands and learn about their significance.
“No matter how big or small your local wetlands is, it provides so much biodiversity value,” Morrison said.
“Go out and explore your local wetlands – we have so many interesting sites in our part of the world – have a look at the birds and the frogs, take it all in and appreciate them for everything they offer.”
The United Nations recognises World Wetlands Day and marks the anniversary of signing the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance on 2 February 1971 in Ramsar, Iran.
Australia and six other nations were the first to become a Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Contracting Party. Now, there are 176.
- The Port Philip Bay and Western Port Ramsar wetlands were recognised as Ramsar sites in 1982, the Edithvale-Seaford wetlands (259 hectares) in 2001;
- Melbourne Water, as a catchment management authority, is responsible for delivering land, water and biodiversity programs that enhance and protect the environment and support thriving communities in the Port Phillip and Westernport catchments;
- As part of the Reel Big Fish-Western Port project, Melbourne Water – and its partners – planted over 10,000 mangrove seeds to support habitat rejuvenation for local fish species;
- The Port Phillip Bay (western shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar site supports over 50 fish species and migratory shorebirds from as far away as Russia and Alaska. It is home to hundreds of thousands of shorebirds annually.
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