World Wetlands Day a reminder of the importance of wetlands – and how NSW is falling behind

In Parliament | 02.02.17

On World Wetlands Day the NSW Labor Opposition has called on the new Berejiklian Government to turn around the woeful O’Farrell-Baird record on the protection of wetlands in NSW.

Wetlands are important for providing habitat and breeding grounds for birds, fish and other wildlife, supporting biodiversity, maintaining water quality and recharge for groundwater, and often representing Aboriginal cultural significance and supporting recreational and tourism activities. 

Australia was one of the first nations to sign up to the Ramsar Convention for the protection of internationally important wetlands, with NSW containing 12 Ramsar-listed wetlands

However, in the past six years of the NSW Liberal-National Government there have been no new listings. 

Since 2015, communities around Broken Hill and Menindee have been calling on the Government to support Ramsar listing for the Menindee Lakes system, which is an environmental haven supporting over 75 species of birds and 222,000 individual birds every year. It could also represent a boon for local tourism. 

Yet nothing has been done. 

With wetlands facing increasing challenges from climate change and water use conflicts, it is vital to protect wetlands of importance – the recent stricken state of the Ramsar-listed Macquarie Marshes highlights how fragile these areas can be and how protection can help them survive. 

Ms Sharpe will visit Lake Wollumboola in the Shoalhaven to mark World Wetlands Day 2017. 

Quotes attributable to Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe

“New South Wales is falling behind in so many significant environmental measures, whether it is the number of threatened species reaching 1,000 or the recent passing of retrograde land clearing laws. 

“The lack of special protection of our wetlands is another failure in the legacy of the Liberal-National parties’ six years of government, with not a single new Ramsar listing. 

“Wetlands statewide are under threat like never before from climate change and conflicts in water use, and I call on the new Premier and Environment Minister to use their appointments to turn around the neglect of wetlands in recent years. 

“The starting point is a no-brainer: support the Ramsar listing of the Menindee Lakes system, which meets all nine of the Ramsar criteria for special recognition of the lakes’ international importance. 

“In the last six years the Government showed it knew the price of everything, but the value of nothing – especially when it came to the environment. This approach must stop.” 

NB: February 2 is World Wetlands Day: www.worldwetlandsday.org

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