THE Humane Society is praising the recent legal protection of a number of estuaries on Victoria’ coast, including several in the Geelong region.
Earlier this month, federal Environment Minister Melissa Price listed “Assemblages of species associated with open-coast salt-wedge estuaries of western and central Victoria” as a Threatened Ecological Community under national environment law.
The Humane Society says the listing comes nearly eight years after the organisation first nominated the estuaries for protection.
Local areas now protected include the estuaries of Kennett River, Wye River, St George River, Erskine River, Painkalac Creek, Anglesea River, Spring Creek and Thompson Creek.
The ecological community is defined as the assemblage of native plants, animals and microorganisms associated with the dynamic saltwedge estuary systems occurring within the temperate climate, micro tidal regime, high wave energy coastline of western and central Victoria.
In all, the listing encompasses 25 unique estuaries across southern Australia and covers about 1,500 hectares.
In a post on their blog, the Human Society said the legal protection would benefit a number of threatened species that lived in the estuaries, including swamp antechinus, long-nosed potoroos, southern bent-wing bats, freshwater crayfish, and southern bell frogs.
“The listing is a world-first conservation move that means actions that could damage the significant values of the community will face extra scrutiny and require approval from a Minister for Environment who must be satisfied they are not
“It will also assist with the allocation of recovery funding and research opportunities to better understand how to mitigate the threats acting on the estuaries.
“And the threats are many. Given their reliance on salinity stratification from marine and freshwater inputs, salt-wedge estuaries are extremely vulnerable to climate change, and this problem is exacerbated by the fact that many estuaries within the ecological community are already considered stressed systems that are less likely to be resilient to the additional pressures.”