Wetlands

Principles

The NSW Greens believe:

1. NSW Wetlands are highly productive ecosystems. They are the nurseries of the waterways, providing habitat to many juvenile species of birds, fish, crustaceans and insects;

2. Wetlands play a vital role in healthy waterways, filtering pollutants and precipitating sediments. They also act as natural flood mitigation tools slowing peak flows and retaining water in ecosystems for later use;

3. Wetlands in NSW are being destroyed at an alarming rate. They have been destroyed by urban expansion, inappropriate development, altered water regimes, stormwater pollution and drainage;

4. All development and policy decisions for the management and protection of wetlands should be based on the principles of ecologically sustainable development and implemented across all government sectors and areas of responsibility;

5. In a well-funded agency dedicated to the coordinated management, restoration and protection of wetlands;

6. Activities which threaten the natural value and health of wetlands and exacerbate their loss must be curtailed and new co-operative arrangements between all levels of government, community and industry must be devised, funded and implemented;

7. In the sovereignty of the Ramsar Convention and legislation that protects wetlands listed under this international convention;

8. In the revision and extension of SEPP 14 to include all significant wetlands, such as hanging swamps, and stronger planning controls over developments which impact on wetlands;

9. In the rights of Indigenous Australians as the traditional custodians and protectors of wetland resources, and increasing their involvement in wetlands planning and management; and

10. In the rights of local communities and community based groups to participate in wetlands planning and management.

Aims

The Greens NSW will work towards:

11. Rationalisation of Government responsibility to ensure clear lines of authority in relation to wetland planning and total catchment management;

12. Implementing the current NSW Wetlands Management Policy, its twelve principles1 for sustainable management and the Wetlands Action Plan;

13. Encouraging integration of the goals and principles of the NSW Wetlands Management Policy into local and regional planning processes;

14. Proper planning protection for the remaining wetland areas of NSW, including ensuring that there is no loss of existing wetland areas;

15. Encouraging management and recovery plans for all degraded wetlands including prioritising remediation of acid sulphate soil issues. This would include adequate funding to ensure plans prepared under the NSW Wetlands Management Policy are implemented;

16. Co-ordinated planning, management and compensatory strategies for minimising detrimental effects to wetland integrity by development impacts;

17.  The cessation and ban of longwall mining and Coal Seam Gas exploration and mining on and under wetlands;

18. A plan of ongoing contribution towards the management and maintenance  of wetland remediation where a development poses any adverse impacts on the wetland;

19. Identification of structures impeding tidal or flood waters to areas which were once viable wetland habitats, and their subsequent removal or modification to allow the wetland to function effectively as a habitat;

20. Identification of land use which results in degradation of wetland and targeting action plans to address wetland pollution at their source in the catchment;

21. Implementing financial incentive schemes for rural landholders to encourage them to manage wetlands areas to promote biodiversity and the ecological functions of wetlands;

22. Stronger planning controls and legislation for Ramsar Convention listed wetlands to ensure their protection, sustainable use and management;

23. Education of school students and communities about the important functions wetlands play in the natural environment including the role of salt water (tidal) wetlands as carbon sinks and their many benefits;

24. Acknowledging and integrating the valuable contribution of volunteer groups in the protection and management of wetlands;

25. Collection of scientific data on the effectiveness of rehabilitation efforts to educate the broader community about the benefits of restoring wetlands;

26. The classification of currently unprotected wetland areas;

27. Remediation of wetlands which are contaminated with toxic pollutants including dioxins such as Homebush Bay ; and

28. Protection of wetlands and floodplains along the Murray River, where clear-felling has been an issue threatening protection.

Related Policies

  • Coastal Policy
  • Biodiversity Policy
  • National Parks Policy

Definitions

A wetland is defined as an area of land that is wet by surface water or groundwater, or both, for long enough periods that the plants and animals in them are adapted to, and depend on, moist conditions for at least part of their lifecycle. They include areas that are inundated cyclically, intermittently or permanently with fresh, brackish or saline water, which is generally still or slow moving except in distributary channels such as tidal creeks which may have higher peak flows. Examples of wetlands include lakes, lagoons, estuaries, rivers, floodplains, swamps, bogs, billabongs, marshes, coral reefs and seagrass beds. Wetlands can be natural or artificial.2

The Ramsar Convention also knows as the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance is the first modern treaty between nations aimed at conserving natural resources. Its broad aims are to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and to conserve, through wise use and management, those that remain, now and into the future.  The treaty is based on international cooperation, policy making, capacity building and technology transfer. 3

Sustainability refers to the practice of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) principles:

(a) the precautionary principle- if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.

(b) inter-generational equity-is about fairness between generations and that the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment are maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations.

(c) intra-generational equity –  is about fairness among the current generation, concerns equity within and between people and nations, and is essential for achieving environmental justice.

(d) conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity- the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration for the maintenance of healthy, productive and functioning ecosystems.

(e) integration of environmental, economic and social aspects into decision-making – the three pillars of sustainability must support each other simultaneously.

(f) improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms- that environmental factors should be included in the valuation of assets and services.4

1. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/wetlands/nswwetlandspolicy.htm

2. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/water/10039wetlandspolicy.pdf

3. http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/water/water-our-environment/wetlands/ramsar-convention-wetlands

4. Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991, Harding, Hendriks and Faruqi 2009