Expansion of protected wetlands

May 13, 2022 BY

Darren Noyes-Brown of the Greater Torquay Alliance and Andy McCauley from The Sands Owners Corporation survey the Karaaf wetlands. Photo: MATT WORLAND

A LONG-AWAITED boundary review of the region’s Ramsar wetlands and other sites considered worthy of greater environmental protections has been released for comment by the state government.

Eleven new wetland areas have been identified as eligible for inclusion under the internationally recognised convention listing, in addition to the six distinct Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar site wetland areas that were originally defined in 1982.

The sites include Point Cook, Point Wilson, Avalon Coast, Moolap Point Henry, the Lake Connewarre Complex that covers Breamlea and Karaaf, coastal areas of St Leonards and Edwards Point – Swan Bay, as well the Lonsdale Lakes.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has set up an online portal that includes surveys for public feedback and registration for online community drop-in sessions between now and June 10.

After public consultation closes in June, feedback will be reviewed and analysed by DELWP until December, when the finalised list and approvals are prepared for submission to the federal government that has the final decision regarding additions to the Ramsar site.

The review is important for future protection of many of the wetland areas, particularly the Lake Connewarre Complex that includes the Karaaf and Breamlea wetlands, which are under significant pressure from urban development on their fringes.

“It’s terrific, they’ve redrawn the boundaries, expanded a lot of the edges where really it should have been before,” The Sands Owners Corporation president Andy McCauley said of the listing.

Backing on to the Karaaf wetlands, residents of The Sands development are acutely aware of the area’s delicate environment, prior to buying in to the estate each is required to sign up to an environmental management plan that includes protections for the wetlands.

Eleven new wetland areas have been identified as eligible for Ramsar site listing. Photo: DELWP

Mr McCauley has spent years lobbying for greater environmental protection of the region’s wetlands that offer important habitat for migratory birds from around the world, host endangered species like the Growling Grass Frog and act as an important carbon sink.

“Salt marshes are 40 times more effective at storing carbon than rainforests,” he said.

“It talks about how important this area is, but also its one of the fastest growing areas in Australia that has issues… it’s already been extremely degraded, for farmland and other purposes.”

For more information visit https://engage.vic.gov.au/port-phillip-bay-and-bellarine-peninsula-ramsar-site-boundary-review