February 2nd is World Wetlands Day, and what’s more, World Wetland Day 2021 marks the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar treaty to protect significant wetland sites!
First signed on 1971, today it recognises and protects more than 192 million hectares of wetlands.
Countries that sign up to the convention can nominate sites to be listed as Wetlands of International Importance. These are referred to as Ramsar sites and must meet at least 1 of 9 internationally accepted criteria.
For example, the wetlands might support a large population of animals and plants, provide habitats for threatened or endangered species or be unique in their region.
Australia has 65 Ramsar sites covering more than 8.3 million hectares, an area bigger than Tasmania. Provisions for their protection are outlined in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Twelve NSW wetlands are listed under the Convention. These wetlands are on a range of land tenures, including national parks and nature reserves, State forests, Crown land and private land.
- Blue Lake
- Lake Pinaroo (Fort Grey Basin)
- Myall Lakes
- Fivebough and Tuckerbil Swamps
- Little Llangothlin Nature Reserve
- NSW Central Murray Forests
- Gwydir Wetlands
- Narran Lake Nature Reserve
- Paroo River Wetlands
- Hunter Estuary Wetlands
- Macquarie Marshes
- Towra Point
Under the Convention, NSW is required to protect the ecological character of its Ramsar sites. This involves implementing policies that aim to guarantee conservation and sustainable use of wetlands
It also involves monitoring the condition of Ramsar sites to find out if there are any significant changes to the wetlands and the plants and animals they support.
This means NSW Office of Environment and Heritage is responsible for:
- coordinating which wetlands are to be nominated for listing as Ramsar sites
- advising on how existing Ramsar wetlands are managed
- managing Ramsar wetlands in national parks and reserves
- promoting the values of the Ramsar Convention
- reporting to the Australian government on how the convention is being implemented in NSW.