logo   Wetlands of the south coast region December 1999

wetland A survey of south coast wetlands has provided direction for practical projects planned for 1999/2000. This research was carried out by wetland experts, Vic and Chris Semeniuk. Vic and Chris classified all the wetlands on the south coast between Walpole and Fitzgerald Inlets, grouped them into suites of like wetlands, described the processes threatening each of the suites, and identified the most ecologically significant and "at risk" wetlands in the area.

The Corimup Wetlands at Manypeaks have been identified as having outstanding ecological value and will be the focus of future work by the Department of Environment. The site is one of the few known breeding areas of Australasian Bittern in Western Australia, and supports a significant proportion of the local population of this threatened species. Some wetlands in the group are considered to have inadequate buffer zones and the area is under threat from groundwater rise.

Activities in the surrounding catchment contributing to long term management of the area will include surface water management, funding of fencing and revegetation projects and setting up of a community-based monitoring program.

One outcome of the survey has been efforts to raise community awareness of the importance and value of wetlands. In March forty nine people from as far afield as Esperance, Walpole and Katanning took part in a community workshop at Manypeaks. The day was extremely informative and highlighted the importance of the south coast region's unique wetlands. The workshop was supported by the Department of Environment and Green Skills.

Field trips and talks explained the ongoing hydrogeological and ecological processes that are shaping local groups of wetlands, the vegetation associations present, water balance issues and how these processes relate to wetland management. The importance of monitoring was emphasised as participants discussed practical techniques including vegetation transects, invertebrate sampling and identification during a visit to the near-pristine wetland system of Lake Pleasant View Nature Reserve.

The group paid an inspirational visit to Doug Russell's property. Doug is a local farmer and has fenced out two wetlands on his land. One is seasonal wetland with vegetation regenerating prolifically after two years fenced from stock. The other site is valuable because it contains a rare stand of karri surrounded by a peat lake, connected to other large areas of remnant vegetation and nearby perched wetlands.

Further workshops across the region and a wetland resource kit with local wetland maps are planned to raise awareness of the value of our wetlands and pressures they face. For further information contact the Department of Environment.

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