Wetlands – vital part of our ecosystem

World Wetlands Day, celebrated every year on February 2, promotes awareness globally about the importance of wetlands for humanity and the planet, and marks the date of the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971.

Wetlands play a vital role in the region including during a difficult climate or when there is a natural disaster – which is the theme for this year’s World Wetlands Day.

Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction aims to raise awareness of the significant role played by wetlands in reducing the impact of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and cyclones.

  • In times of excess rainfall, wetlands act as a natural sponge, absorbing and storing water ans reducing flood levels.
  • In dry times, they release stored water, delaying droughts and reducing water shortages.
  • Wetlands along a coastline provide a natural buffer against extreme weather events and can absorb much of the impact.
  • Well-managed wetlands can also speed up recovery and ensure communities are resilient and can bounce back better from disasters. They act as natural water filters and nutrient restorers.

Scientists estimate that at least 64 per cent of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900. Meanwhile, the frequency of worldwide disasters has more than doubled in just 35 years, driven by climate- and weather- related hazards like flooding, cyclones and droughts.

And with the rate of extreme weather events predicted to keep on rising due to climate change, it is even more important that we protect our wetlands.

In Gippsland there are many ecologically and recreationally important wetlands, including two Ramsar-listed wetlands, The Gippsland Lakes and Corner Inlet.

West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority works with private landholders as well as community groups to help protect and enhance wetlands in the region.

“The most well-known wetlands in the area are Corner Inlet, Sale Common, Heart Morass and Dowd’s Morass. But then there are other smaller wetlands dotted in towns and on private property that play an important role in the ecosystem,” said WGCMA CEO Martin Fuller.

“Heart Morass is an amazing example of how degraded wetland can be restored to a full functioning wetland in a relatively short period of time.”

In the past 12 months, WGCMA has overseen significant works to protect local wetlands, rivers and lakes. Fencing, revegetation and weed removal were some of the key works undertaken as part of the WGCMA’s core waterway health program, funded by the State Government.

Works focused on Corner Inlet, the mid- and lower- Thomson, mid-Latrobe, Tarwin and Tarra Rivers, and Andersons Inlet.

“Our environmental watering program also allowed much needed fresh water to flush Sale Common, Heart Morass and Dowd Morass,” explained Mr Fuller.

“These releases have helped to improve the habitat for native wildlife as well as native plants growing in an around the wetlands.”

For more information about World Wetlands Day visit www.worldwetlandsday.org

Heart Morass
Dowds Morass
Dowd's Morass on the Latrobe River side