Bid to protect Mambo Wanda Wetlands under Ramsar listing

A frog in the Mambo Wanda Wetlands. Frogs are an indicator species which show the health of ecosystems. Photo: Mat Spillard.

THE Mambo Wanda Wetlands is a 188 hectare site which supports 90 species of migratory birds, as well as koalas, squirrel gliders, bats and frogs.

It is also a nursery area for a number of fish species.

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However, local conservationists are concerned the fragile site is not fully protected.

EcoNetwork Port Stephens is now launching a bid to have the site protected under an international Ramsar listing.

This would give it the same recognition as the Myall Lakes Ramsar site, which encompasses an area of 44,612 hectares and consists of five separate subsites: the Myall Lakes National Park, Corrie Island Nature Reserve, Little Broughton Island Nature Reserve, part of Gir-um-bit National Park and part of the Port Stephens–Great Lakes Marine Park.

“Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rain forests and coral reefs,” Nigel Dique of EcoNetwork told News Of The Area.

“They link the environment to people providing urban green space, reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants and improve water quality.

“They also provide habitat for animals and plants, including migratory wader birds, support biodiversity and form nurseries for fish and other marine life.

“They (Mambo Wanda wetlands) qualify for listing as they satisfy Ramsar criteria guidelines,” he said.

The NOTA first published about the possibility of the region becoming Ramsar listed in 2016.

A Ramsar listing has many benefits, including increasing opportunities for grant funding at the wetland, prestige of international recognition, and educational opportunities for schools and community groups.

However, in-principle support from Council as the site owner is a prerequisite for listing.

This week Port Stephens Councillor Leah Anderson raised a Notice of Motion requesting the support of the General Manager to provide councillors with a report relating to the potential for Ramsar listing of the Mambo and Wanda Wetlands.

“When I was approached to consider protecting the Mambo and Wanda Wetlands Reserves, Nigel Dique of Econetwork advised me that he has been trying for several years to get Council to consider this.

“Nigel helped me to understand that these wetlands form part of an important wildlife corridor and habitat, stretching north of Salamander Bay and West towards Soldiers Point; a massive 188 hectares of saltwater and freshwater wetland that significantly contributes to the performance of the local ecosystem,” she said.

If successful in attaining a listing, the wetlands will be designated of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention, conserving them forever.

A Ramsar site nomination is considered by the Australian Government on its merits – the decision rests with the Federal Environment Minister.

Mr Dique and EcoNetwork members are confident that Council will agree to support Ramsar designation after considering the benefits.

According to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment NSW, the main threats to wetlands in New South Wales are: river regulation and water diversion; development and catchment disturbance; introduction of weeds and pest animals and climate change.


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