What are Wetlands?

Wetlands are areas of land saturated or flooded with water permanently or seasonally. There are a variety of wetlands including:

  • Inland wetlands: marshes, peatlands ponds, lakes, rivers, floodplains, swamps, fens
  • Coastal wetlands: saltwater marshes, estuaries, mangroves, lagoons, coral reefs
  • Human-made wetlands: fish ponds, reservoirs, saltpans

Wetlands are a important parts of our natural environment. They protect our shores from storm surges, reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants and improve water quality. Wetlands also provide habitat for animals and plants. They contain a wide diversity of life, supporting plants and animals that are found nowhere else in the world.

In Australia there are 66 Ramsar sites wetlands of international importance covering about 8.3 million hectares. These sites include iconic wetlands such as Kakadu National Park, Roebuck Bay, Gippsland Lakes, Moreton Bay, Blue Lake, Macquarie Marshes and the Coorong.

The main threats to wetlands in Australia are:

  • river regulation and water diversion
  • land reclamation and development
  • catchment disturbance
  • introduction of weeds and pest animals
  • climate change

Check the health of your local wetland with the Wetland Audit.

Creating connections

Aquatic ecosystem connectivity refers to the connections between and within aquatic ecosystems. Understanding the connections of the surrounding land to wetlands and between other wetlands is important for effective catchment management. For example, when looking at prioritising wetlands for management actions in a catchment, a wetland that provides refuge for wildlife in a dry landscape may be given priority.

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