PO Box A96, Sydney South NSW 1235 Ph: (02) 9233 4660 Fax: (02) 9233 4880

Media Release 31 January 1997

World Wetlands Day - Water off a Duck’s Back?

Around the world, communities are celebrating Sunday the 2nd of February as World Wetlands Day in recognition of the key role wetlands play in biological diversity, marine food resources and water quality. Noel Plumb, Executive Officer of the National Parks Association said " Our Association has organised various activities to mark World Wetlands Day, to inform the community and gain support for the protection of wetlands. Unfortunately, despite professed concern for these vital areas, governments at all levels in Australia are slow to act on identified threats or, worse, actually promote development which destroy wetlands."

The day also marks the anniversary of the international Ramsar Convention initiated in 1971for the conservation of wetlands around the world. The Convention grew out of the realisation that the world’s waterbird populations were dwindling as a result of loss and degradation of wetland habitat. Australia was the first signatory among the 92 nations which are currently a party to the convention

Current concerns about wetlands in NSW include:

Fivebough Swamp, Leeton
Proposed development of a dam in the wetland for recreational sailing.

Wingecarribee Swamp, Southern Highlands
A Wetlands Festival has been organised by local conservation groups, including NPA, to draw attention to this rare upland peat swamp which is threatened by peat mining proposals.

Shellharbour, South Coast
The State Government has approved a channel and marina which will destroy a wetland listed for protection by the Government under its own State planning regulations.

Towra Point Nature Reserve, Botany Bay
Continuing development impacts on Botany Bay, especially the third runway, have forced tradeoffs between reconstruction of nesting sites for the endangered Little Tern population and already severely depleted seagrass areas. Insufficient resources for management also threaten this Ramsar listed wetland which is an important feeding, nesting and roosting site for migratory waders and waterfowl.

For further comment/details on World Wetlands Day or any of the issues listed: Noel Plumb Tel 02 9233 4660 to 5.00pm on 31Jan. then 018 975 075 (m) Brian Everingham Tel 02 9520 9341

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