World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally each year on 2 February. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971. Celebrations on this day take many forms, including talks, photo and art exhibitions, nature walks, festivals, announcement of new Ramsar sites, media stories and wetland working bees.
The Bega Valley is rich in wetlands, with more than 100 floodplain wetlands linked to the Bega and Brogo Rivers, upland swamps, extensive coastal wetlands including swamp forests, salt marsh and mangroves. Some of our best known wetlands include Panboola, Penuca Swamp, Wallagoot Lake, Bondi Lake, Kisses Lagoon and the salt marsh wetlands of Bermagui. Many of our less well known wetlands are on private land along our rivers or upland swamps higher in the catchment.
Wetlands help us deal with extreme weather events like floods and drought. Even with this long, dry period we’re experiencing now, many of our wetlands are depleting but are still holding water, and as our rivers start to dry up, it is these wetlands which act as a habitat refuge and source of food for many species of plants, fish, birds, bats, insects and reptiles.
Our upland swamps also act like sponges, holding water and releasing it slowly into the landscape during dry times. Nunnock Swamp on the escarpment is one example. On properties where these swamps are still intact, aerial photos show large green areas distinct from the surrounding landscape.
Wetlands are often places of cultural significance for Aboriginal people as they were important sources of water, food and fibre over many centuries and evidence of this can be found in the artefacts that are commonly found in and around them.
In Pambula, Panboola celebrates its 20th birthday this year, marking the year that the first parcel of land (now the Waterbird Sanctuary) was purchased. Friends of Panboola meet each Thursday between 9-12. For information, visit their Facebook page or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bega River and Wetlands Landcare Group (BRAWL) holds monthly working bees at wetlands and river reserves in the Bega urban area. Their main focus has been on rehabilitation of Spenco Lagoon and the Bega River reserves along
Bridge Street, with the support of the NSW Environmental Trust, South East Local Land Services (LLS) and Bega Valley Shire Council. Their next working bee is on Monday 6 February. If you would like to join the group or find out more, visit their Facebook page or email email@example.com.
In Bermagui, a number of wetland projects are being coordinated by Bega Valley Shire Council with community volunteers and funding support from Local Land Services. These are at South River Road, the Bermagui Bridge and North Bermagui River. Their focus is on protecting and restoring important salt marsh habitat. If you’d like to get involved, contact Peter Cross on 0427 127 118 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Kisses Lagoon is the gateway to Bega and has been the focus of extensive rehabilitation by Bega Valley Shire Council and partners over recent years. Willow and privet removal and the planting of thousands of shrubs, reeds, rushes and trees have beautified the area and increased its environmental benefits. It is already a popular place for the community to have picnics and walks and, as these plants grow, the number of waterbirds and other wetland species is likely to increase. Council is about to embark on the third stage of works in the channel leading to Kisses Lagoon so watch for changes there in coming months.
More than 75 wetlands on dairy farms in the Bega Valley have been improved over the last 10 years with fencing to reduce stock access, erosion control and revegetation. Farmers not only see the environmental benefits of fencing off these wetlands but are also motivated by animal health benefits such as a reduction in mastitis and liver fluke.*
Copies of a new publication A Field Guide to Wetland Plants of South East NSW by Conservation Volunteers Australia will be available at your Local Land Services office by the end of next week so drop in and pick up a copy to help you identify the native plants in your wetland.