National Wetlands Update February 2013
Issue No. 22, February 2013
Australian Government Update
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Australian Ramsar Site Nomination Guidelines
The Australian Ramsar site nomination guidelines, published in October 2012, outline the Australian Government's processes and requirements for adding sites to the list of Ramsar wetlands, and provide a nationally consistent framework for Ramsar site nominations in Australia and its offshore Territories.
Site nominations can be made by the Australian or state/territory governments, non-government organisations, community entities, trusts, Traditional Owners, individuals, private landowners or a company. Proposed nominations on state or private land require support from the relevant state government. Nominations for sites wholly within Commonwealth land require Australian Government support. The development of a Ramsar site nomination should be the result of a collaborative process between site managers/landowners and the Australian and state or territory governments.
These guidelines are the fourth module of the National Guidelines for Ramsar Wetlands and were developed in consultation with the states and territories through the Wetlands and Waterbirds Taskforce.
Wetlands Fact Sheets
A series of wetland fact sheets have been published to provide information on wetland management in Australia and guidance on use of the Ecological Character Descriptions being progressively published for each Australian Ramsar site. These fact sheets include:
- Wise use of wetlands in Australia
- Wetlands in Australia - roles and responsibilities
- Limits of acceptable change
- Notification of change in ecological character
A new Aquatic Ecosystems Toolkit - a framework for mapping and classifying aquatic ecosystems
The Aquatic Ecosystems Toolkit is a set of good practice tools designed for identifying and understanding the importance of aquatic ecosystems. It was developed in collaboration with states and territories.
Aquatic ecosystems are collectively the wet parts of the environment. They can be rivers, streams, swamps, lakes, estuaries, marine systems, and underground aquifers. They have biodiversity values as well as resource values and provide many services to the environment and humankind. These can be provisioning (food and water), regulating (floods, droughts), supporting (soil formation, nutrient cycling) and cultural (recreational, spiritual).
Identifying and understanding the importance of aquatic ecosystems is a difficult and time-consuming process. Some tools to do this have been developed in Australia by different authorities and researchers, but until now there has not been a nationally consistent framework for mapping and classifying aquatic ecosystems, identifying high ecological value aquatic ecosystems (HEVAE) through the systematic application of ecological criteria, delineating and describing aquatic ecosystems, and assessing their ecological condition.
Commonwealth Environmental Water Office update
Commonwealth environmental water is managed to protect and restore rivers, wetlands and other environmental assets in the Murray-Darling Basin. In 2011-12, 680 gigalitres of Commonwealth environmental water was delivered to the Basin environment, bringing the total delivery of Commonwealth environmental water to over 1200 gigalitres since 2009.
Commonwealth environmental water is planned and delivered in partnership with a range of stakeholders such as state government agencies, catchment management authorities, local community groups, landholders and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
Some of the wetlands that benefited from Commonwealth environmental watering in 2011-12 included the Gwydir, Booligal and mid-Murrumbidgee wetlands. The results of Commonwealth environmental watering in the Murray-Darling Basin can found in the Commonwealth environmental water outcomes reports and scientific monitoring reports.
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office has developed Annual water use options for 2012-13 for the ten catchments in the Basin in which it holds environmental water entitlements. Watering actions will continue to build on the improved ecological conditions that have resulted from the past two years of wetter conditions. Further information on the management of Commonwealth environmental water can be found at: Commonwealth Environmental Water Office.