THE bid to gain World Heritage status for the Bay is underway.
We all know that we live in paradise, but the actual scope of what surrounds us is sometimes lost.
Port Stephens is a huge waterway, which many believe is not only unique in the minimal impact of man on the waterway, but one which deserves to be managed with a whole of estuary approach.
Preliminary studies have strongly indicated that over 7,000 square kilometres of this region meets the criteria for inclusion into UNESCO’s World Heritage Program.
Port Stephens is home to nearly 700 species of plants.
It hosts the largest mangrove forest in the state, as well as extensive seagrass meadows.
It is also home to 300 species of birds, over 25 kinds of reptiles, and the region also supports a large dolphin and sea turtle population.
There are over 20 species of threatened birds including the Gould’s petrel.
Of the flora in the region, there are 22 species of threatened or endangered plants.
There are seven species of threatened frogs and snakes, and eight threatened species of mammals.
Nearly 65 percent of the estuary now receives some form of protection.
Terry Domico, a local Conservation Biologist working on the application told News Of The Area that chances are that you came to live in this region because of its great beauty and diversity.
“World Heritage status is designed to protect those values in perpetuity.”
“It will also create job opportunities for this region when gateway communities, like Nelson Bay and Tea Gardens, gear up to handle the increased tourism that will surely follow.”
“This means more restaurants and cafes, more accommodation, and more services for everyone,” he said.
If successful this will see Port Stephens join Fraser Island, the Greater Blue Mountains, and the Great Barrier Reef.
By Marian SAMPSON