2020 marks 30 years since the Vasse-Wonnerup wetlands were recognised as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.
The Convention is an intergovernmental treaty that provides a framework for international cooperation for the conservation and sustainable management of wetlands.
GeoCatch Chair, Felicity Bradshaw, says that this is a significant milestone for the local community.
“This is an opportunity for us as a community to reflect on the global, as well as local and cultural, value of the wetland system and the critical habitat it provides,” she said.
“To think that birds come here every summer from the other side of the world, some travelling in one single flight from countries like Siberia – it’s incredible!
“This really is a time to celebrate the wetlands we have in our backyard.”
The number and diversity of waterbird species in the Vasse-Wonnerup was a driving factor behind the Ramsar nomination in 1990. The wetlands provide critical habitat for over 30,000 migratory and resident waterbirds every year, consisting of over 90 species, and support the largest breeding colony of Black Swan in WA.
There are nine criteria under Ramsar Convention, of which a wetland must meet at least one to be recognised. The Vasse-Wonnerup currently meets criteria 5 and 6:
5) Regularly supporting 20,000 or more waterbirds
6) Regularly supporting 1% of individuals of a population of bird species
The wetlands support at least 1% of the south east Asia-Australasia population of Black-winged Stilt, 1% of the Australian population of Red-necked Avocet and at least 1% of the south west Australia population of Australian Shelduck and Australian Shoveler.
The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions undertakes regular bird monitoring on the wetland to assess bird numbers and report on Ramsar values. Water quality is also monitored regularly by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation to ensure that management action supports the ecological values of the system. Check out the Explore the Vasse-Wonnerup wetlands webinar series for more information.
The community can help support the Vasse-Wonnerup by reducing fertiliser run-off from gardens and farms, keeping pets out of the wetland area and sticking to designated paths when visiting. The best time to spot bird life on the wetlands is mid-December to late January.