Expand Ramsar Listing for Connewarre and Karaaf Wetlands

UPDATE: The consultation process has now closed. I look forward to updating the community on the results in due time.

 

I'm asking all interested residents to make a submission to DEWLP calling for the Karaaf Wetlands to be Ramsar listed, and for the existing boundaries of the Connewarre Wetlands Ramsar site to be expanded.

The State Government is asking Geelong and Surf Coast communities if they would like to see Ramsar status considered for 11 additional wetland areas.  

Ramsar wetlands are sites that are recognised under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) as being of international significance in terms of flora, fauna or environment. Australia has 65 Ramsar wetlands, and 12 of these are in Victoria, including the Barmah Forest, Gippsland Lakes, and the Connewarre Wetlands.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is currently seeking community members' views on extending the boundary of the existing Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar site. The proposed areas for addition are the Breamlea Karaaf Wetlands, and parts of the Lake Connewarre Reserve that are not already Ramsar listed.

I believe that both sites are fantastic candidates for Ramsar listing, and deserve the wise management guidelines and attention provided to areas that are internationally listed under the Ramsar Convention.

Please fill in your details and make a submission.

You can see my own submission below, that you are welcome to borrow from or copy.

 

1. Which of the following wetland areas would you like to see added to the Ramsar site?

*tick* Lake Connewarre complex
*tick* Breamlea Karaaf
2. What do you value about the wetland areas you selected in Q1?

I value the variety of native vegetation and wildlife that exists in these wetlands, and believe they deserve to be better managed and protected. Wetlands are an important part of our natural ecology, providing habitat for native animals and plants, and have significant environmental, cultural, social and economic value to our community.

Both residents and eco-tourists from afar enjoy spending time in these natural environments, and they provide habitat and safety in particular for endangered birds, such as the Orange-bellied Parrot. These wetlands and waterways have been an important part of our state's history, with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners living in these areas for 60,000 years.

Our local wetlands and their unique character are under threat from climate change, invasive weeds and pests, urban development and stormwater runoff. Wise management guidelines are needed to afford appropriate management and attention to the Karaaf and Connewarre wetlands. Across Australia and Victoria, there has been a loss of wetlands since European settlement, and it is important to recognize this and stop further degradation of our natural environment.

3. How do you think management would change at these wetland areas if they were added to the Ramsar site?

Under the Ramsar guidelines, a management plan would be required for the Karaaf Wetlands that would involve community consultation and involvement, and there would need to be work done to refresh the existing Connewarre Wetlands management plan to account for the expanded boundaries.

Through that community consultation, including with key stakeholders, risks such as climate change, sea level rise, urban encroachment, terrestrial freshwater flows, invasive weeds and plants will be identified and management strategies put in place to mitigate those risks. 

The management plan will recognize how these wetlands are used for recreational purposes, such as bird-watching and canoeing.  

These wetlands need to be protected for the Orange-bellied parrot and other native waterfowl, and wise management plans will help us do this.

These management plans will also recognize the risk of sediment discharge from our encroaching urban boundaries.

These management plans would also be an opportunity to acknowledge that the Wadawurrung people have been the natural custodians of these lands and important waterways with more than 60,000 years of knowledge about how they should be recognized and managed in a localized plan.

4. Is there anything you would like to say about the other coastal wetland areas that have been proposed to be added to the Ramsar site?

These additional proposed listed wetlands add to Victoria's commitment under the Ramsar Convention to protect our iconic wetland areas, and are an example of Victoria's strong record on conservation.

5. Do you have any relevant data from these wetland areas (e.g. bird monitoring data) that could assist in the detailed assessment process to follow?
         Yes
*tick* No
6. Do you have any other comments on this engagement?

I believe that the proposed boundaries for the Karaaf Wetlands site need to be expanded to include Thompsons Creek as the important link between both ends of the Breamlea Karaaf Flora and Fauna Reserve.

Ramsar Listing is an important step in providing a better management strategy to these iconic and precious natural wetlands, and I thank the Department for taking the time to involve the community in this important process.

Lake Connewarre as seen from Tait Point

Lake Connewarre as seen from Tait Point

Karaaf Wetlands (credit to 'Save the Karaaf Wetlands' Facebook page)

Karaaf Wetlands (credit to 'Save the Karaaf Wetlands' Facebook page)