The Ramsar Convention celebrated its 50th anniversary on 2 February also known as World Wetlands Day. In conjunction with the Wetlands Centre, Cockburn and support from the City of Mandurah, PHCC planned a series of events to celebrate Ramsar’s birthday by showcasing our local wetlands of international importance, Ramsar Site 482. Unfortunately the COVID-19 lockdown has forced us to reschedule.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance in the City of Ramsar, Iran on 2 February 1971. Now known as the Ramsar Convention, this international treaty aims to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and conserve those that remain, in particular to protect and conserve habitat for birds. The Ramsar Convention’s birthday is celebrated every year as World Wetlands Day.
The theme for World Wetlands Day 2021 and Ramsar’s 50th anniversary is “Wetlands and Water”, highlighting the vital role wetlands play in providing a range of ecosystem services to benefit people and nature. These services include provision of clean water for the environment and for drinking water supplies, ecosystem resilience, habitats for wildlife and connections across the landscape for plants and animals, including migratory and threatened species. Throughout the world wetlands also provide significant cultural resources, provide livelihoods and areas for recreation activities.
Australia designated the world’s first Ramsar site under the Convention in 1974 – the Cobourg Peninsula, in the Northern Territory (Ramsar 1), thereby recognising the site a wetland of international importance. There are now more than 2,400 Ramsar sites around the world with 66 of these in Australia.
One of these, and in our opinion the best, is our very own Ramsar Site 482, the Peel-Yalgorup system which includes the Peel-Harvey Estuary, the Yalgorup Lakes, Lake McLarty and Lake Mealup and adjoining National Parks and Nature Reserves.
Our Ramsar 482 site meets seven of the nine criteria for identifying wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention because of the uniqueness of the wetlands, their importance for water birds including as a destination for migratory birds on the East-Asian Australasian Flyway, and the habitat they provide to support biodiversity including Threatened Ecological Communities such as the Lake Clifton thrombolites.
To celebrate World Wetlands Day, PHCC and partners planned a series of events on 1st and 2nd February to showcase Ramsar482 and share our stories with the community about why they are so important to us. Events included tours of the estuary and the Creery Wetlands, a visit to the thrombolite community at Lake Clifton and the Dandjoo Gabi Wonga Sundowner (meeting place of the waterways story), on 1st February. The celebrations were to be capped off with the 2021 WA Wetlands Management Conference with the Wetlands Centre Cockburn to be held at ManPAC on World Wetlands Day itself. Unfortunately the coronavirus had other plans and so we have had to postpone the celebrations until it is safe to do so. Keep an eye on our Facebook and webpage for updates as we work through this.
In the meantime there are many ways to get involved in celebrating World Wetlands Day, including visiting your local wetland (once lockdown is over). You can also check out our Wetlands From Above video online to see beautiful aerial footage of the Peel-Yalgorup System. When it’s open again, you could also check out our giant banners promoting the values of Ramsar 482 site in the foyer at ManPAC.
Further information about World Wetlands Day Celebrations in Australia can be found on DAWE’s World Wetlands Day and Wetlands and Water information resources page. You can also follow the Department on social media @awegov or #awe.
This project is supported by the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.
The 2021 WA Wetlands Management Conference is organised by the Wetlands Centre Cockburn. The Dandjoo Gabi Wonga sundowner is supported by the City of Mandurah.