PRESS RELEASE.

Environment and Heritage/Natural Resources

The HON. RODNEY WELFORD MLA

2 February 1999

 

Government Moves to Protect Wetlands

For the first time in Queensland, a coordinated strategy involving government, industry and the community is being introduced by the Beattie Government to protect and manage the state’s wetlands.

Launching the strategy at Boondall Wetlands (EDS: 11am), Minister for Environment and Heritage and Natural Resources, Rod Welford, said it recognised the importance of wetlands for the state’s ecological and economic well-being.

"Our natural and artificial wetlands are a critical part of the Queensland landscape and contribute in many ways to our quality of life," Mr Welford said.

"They provide habitat for many species of fish, birds and plants vital to our biodiversity and supply water for irrigation, mining, domestic and industrial purposes.

"Without wetlands contributing to the health of our waterways by filtering out toxins, our tourism, fishing and recreation industries would be destroyed.

"It’s appropriate on World Wetlands Day to announce we’re stepping up efforts to prevent their further loss or degradation with a strategy that recognises the long-term benefit of these wetlands to all Queenslanders.

"It’s a practical approach that builds upon existing planning schemes and industry policies rather than creating another separate piece of legislation.

"We’ll work closely with local and Commonwealth governments, landholders, the private sector, producer organisations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the community to implement the strategy."

Queensland’s has the most diverse array of wetlands in Australia, providing essential habitat for the entire life cycle of 130 freshwater fish species, 150 species of waterbirds and more than 3000 species of plants.

Wetlands cover 4.1% of the state’s mainland or nearly 71,000 square kilometres and coral reefs and areas on surrounding islands increase that figure.

Seasonally inundated wetlands account for about 69% of the total, while tidal wetlands (mangroves and saline coastal flats) account for another 14%.

Mr Welford said the new strategy provided a framework to guide all state agencies in developing best practice management guidelines.

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Government Moves to Protect Wetlands

"With artificial wetlands, we’re aiming for better planning and management to incorporate conservation objectives where possible, but still giving priority to the main purpose for which the wetland was created, if the uses are incompatible.

"There are many important wetland areas on private lands and the activities on these lands can have a strong influence on downstream or adjacent wetlands.

"We will be providing incentives and education to encourage landholders to adopt sound management practices as part of a whole-of-catchment approach.

"For example, there are water storages throughout Queensland for the supply of water for irrigation, mining and industrial purposes and drinking water.

"These can be managed for their primary productive purpose while providing habitat and recreational values."

Mr Welford said the four key objectives of the Beattie Government’s wetlands strategy were:

to avoid further loss or degradation of natural wetlands unless ‘overriding public interest can be shown’

to ensure a comprehensive and adequate representation of wetlands in the conservation reserve system

to base the management and use of natural wetlands on ecologically sustainable management and integrated catchment management practices

to develop community awareness of, and respect for, the values and benefits of wetlands, and involvement in their management

The strategy’s implementation will be overseen by the Department of Environment and Heritage and carried out by the various Queensland agencies with legislative responsibility for wetlands areas.

Further information: Andrew Carroll or Greg Milne on (07) 38963688

2 February, 1999


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