THE SOUTH COAST WETLAND CARERS NETWORK
The South Coast Wetland Carers Network (SCWCN) is a partnership driven by South East Local Land Services, Wetland Care Australia and Conservation Volunteers that aims to protect and restore 1000 ha of coastal wetlands to act as bio diverse carbon stores. Working with NRM partner agencies, landholders and community groups we will initiate targeted delivery of on ground work and educational opportunities in the South East LLS region incorporating the 32 priority wetlands identified in the South East LLS Catchment Action Plan 2023.
Funded by the Australian Government over 4 years, the drive will be to strengthen the habitat resilience and health, increase knowledge and skills and monitor the changes over this period with a focus on increasing regional areas capacity to adaptively manage change and build resilience to climate variability.
WHY OUR WETLANDS?
There are a number of wetland classifications for our coastal zone; they include swamp forests, saltmarsh, mangroves and seagrass beds. Additional to the environmental value of our wetlands, the social and economic values cannot be overlooked. The recreational use of wetland areas for fishing, kayaking, boating and walking as well as the reliance of commercial operations such as seafood and tourism illustrate the broad impact losing wetlands could pose.
Wetlands aren’t only important to us; there is a vast array of life that depends upon them for food and shelter. Wetlands provide habitat for fish, molluscs, crabs, bats and birds, saltmarsh is used by invertebrates and juvenile fish and sea grass beds provide food and shelter at this highly vulnerable stage of their life cycle.
Wetlands also have an important role to play in the ever present threat of climate change. While wetlands only make up a small percentage of our earth’s surface, it has been estimated that up to 35% of terrestrial carbon is stored within wetlands. Being that coastal and estuarine wetlands have one of the highest primary productivities on earth, combined with our current climate variability, it is all the more important to protect and restore these areas.
WHAT THREATS ARE OUR TARGET?
While there is any number of threats to our wetlands, our major focus in this project will be:
· Invasive Weed Control
· Reduction of grazing and trampling by livestock
· Feral animal control
· Reduction of barriers to flow
Through the development and evolution of the Wetland Carers Network, on ground initiatives are already underway on key sites across the Illawarra and expressions of interest are currently being considered for private lands along the coast.
Conservation Volunteers is currently running project days each week where people can get involved and help in the restoration and protection of our wetlands throughout the Illawarra. We are actively pursuing volunteers through a number of channels and are encouraging a broad spectrum of people to get involved and become more aware of the plight of our wetlands. There is also a range of opportunities for further education through our workshops and our community forums, so please keep an eye out here for updates in the future.
Contact: Adam Woods, wetlands program officer, 5/54 Montague street, Fairy Meadow, NSW 2500 Tel: 02 4228 9246