The NSW Greens are calling on the Baird government to protect wetlands across the state, including international protection for the Cobaki catchment in the Tweed, recognised as a world-class ecological and cultural site.
The Cobaki wetland area west of Tweed Heads has come under extreme pressure from major housing development surrounding it over recent years and faces even more impacts from the approved massive urban precinct of Cobaki estate for around 5,000 new homes.
The call for protection was made on World Wetlands Day this week which commemorates the signing of the Ramsar Convention, the international treaty for the conservation of wetlands.
Byron-shire based MLC, Jan Barham, said she would move a motion to the state parliament when it resumes later this month for the Cobaki Broadwater catchment to be nominated by the NSW government for protection under the convention.
’The Cobaki catchment is a world class ecological and cultural treasure that is deserving of protection,’ Ms Barham said.
‘As the popularity and pressures on this beautiful and important area grow, there is a greater need to protect and preserve this significant landscape.
‘The NSW government has an important role in the nomination of sites that meet the criteria and on World Wetlands Day I am pleased that the Greens are recognising and celebrating the natural and cultural environment and seeking protection of this national treasure’, she said.
The Greens environment spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, said wetlands played a vital role in a healthy environment, ‘including for all the waterways that criss-cross the state’.
‘Unfortunately, we are losing wetlands across the state and with it their rich biodiversity, Dr Faruqui said.
‘This World Wetlands day, I am calling on the NSW premier to get serious about protecting our vital wetlands and give them the protection they deserve, including from the threats of fossil fuel mining, inappropriate development and pollution’, the MLC said.
The approval for the Cobaki housing estate being built by one of Australia’s biggest developers, the Leda group, involved an agreement to offset the loss of freshwater wetlands and Wallum Froglet habitat from the Cobaki Lakes site nearby through either land or financial compensation.
Just last month, Leda Manorstead, the company run by billionaire developer Bob Ell behind the estate, was slapped with a ‘maximum possible’ $15,000 fine for breaches which impacted on environmentally sensitive land in and around the estate site.
The fine, according to the government, was for ‘failing to protect environmentally sensitive areas as required under its conditions of approval’.
The Department of Planning and Environment said the company ‘was required to fence environmentally sensitive areas during earthwork activities to protect them from any work associated with construction of Cobaki Estate.’
A spokesperson for the department said the breach was assessed as having a high impact.
‘The company is now required to pay a $15,000 fine, construct the fence and remediate the affected areas,’ the spokesperson said.
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was initiated 45 years ago in the city of Ramsar, Iran, and is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
Around 170 nations take part and there are currently 2,227 Ramsar sites.