Since 1971, World Wetlands Day, celebrated today, has been an event to reaffirm the protection and appreciation of wetlands, and conservationists say that Menindee Lakes in Far Western New South Wales, an important wetland, is long overdue for listing under the Ramsar convention on international wetlands.
The Nature Conservation Council has launched a campaign to have the Menindee Lakes system listed as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.
Today is World Wetlands Day, which marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, 50 years ago, on February 2, 1971.
The Kakadu of the South
Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian says the Menindee Lakes have been dubbed the Kakadu of the South and one of the most important wetlands in southeastern Australia.
‘It is not only a jewel in the crown of the Far West of NSW, it is a natural wonder of international significance that deserves to be recognised as such and managed appropriately.
‘After major floods, the lakes are the stage for one of the nation’s great wildlife spectacles, with more than 100,000 water birds feeding, roosting and breeding at the lakes’ edges.
‘They are also a vital oasis for a complex web of other species, including many threatened birds and animals, in a vast semi-arid landscape on the western edge of the state.
Mr Gambian says the Nature Conservation Council are calling on the NSW Government to spearhead efforts to nominate Menindee Lakes for inscription on the Ramsar Convention’s List of Wetlands of International significance.
The proposal has the support the Barkandji people
‘The proposal has the support of the local community, the Barkandji, the Traditional Owners of this Country, the region’s councils, and environment groups.
‘All that is required is leadership from the NSW Government to push the nomination forward.
‘Ramsar listing would not only give the chain of ephemeral wetlands and lakes added protection.
‘It would boost the economy by stimulating tourism, investment and much-needed jobs in one of the country’s most disadvantaged regions.
The ecological viability of the Menindee Lakes system is threatened by proposed engineering works that will prevent the lakes from ever filling again and drain much faster.
The plan has been designed to benefit corporate irrigators at the top of the catchment by allowing them to retain megalitres of water for crops like cotton.
Locals and the Nature Conservation Council are lobbying the NSW Government to abandon the plan.