Conserving Western Australia’s wetlands

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Asia/Pacific > Australia/New-Zealand
Asia/Pacific > Australia/New-Zealand > Australia

Piara Reserve, a seasonally inundated wetland on the Swan Coastal Plain. Australia.
© WWF Australia / Christina Mykytiuk


The majority of the wetlands in Western Australia’s Swan Coastal Plain have been destroyed by decades of urban and rural development. It has been estimated that if the current rate of loss continues, almost all of these remaining wetlands are likely to be lost in 10-20 years.

To protect these wetlands, particularly those that are found on private lands, WWF is working with landowners and community groups to encourage long-term management and biodiversity conservation.


The Southwest of Western Australia is one of 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world. Much of this biodiversity is contained within wetlands systems, which support a diverse and distinctive array of plants and animals including many rare and threatened species, as well as an estimated 80% of the region's threatened ecological communities. There are also a number of Ramsar listed wetlands in the region, including Forrestdale Lake.

These wetlands have a number of other unique values including:

- They enhance catchment water quality by filtering out pollutants, including nutrients and pathogens.

- They are of significant cultural and heritage value to indigenous communities.

- Their intrinsic beauty offers many opportunities for recreational activities, including bird watching and bushwalking.

On the Swan Coastal Plain it has been estimated that between 70 and 80% of wetlands have been destroyed since European settlement. Of those wetlands that remain, only 15% are considered to retain high conservation values. These remaining wetlands are under significant threat from urban and rural encroachment.

It has been estimated that if the current rate of loss continues, almost all of these remaining wetlands are likely to be lost in 10-20 years.

The threat to wetlands is compounded by the lack of awareness, on the part of landowners and the general community, of the presence of many seasonal wetland types and the high biodiversity value of these systems. In order to increase the conservation and sustainable management of wetlands, it therefore is essential to raise landowner/community awareness of the presence of different wetland types as well as their values.

It is also necessary to build community capacity to sustainably manage wetlands in the long term through the provision of resources as well as the establishment of support links with local governments, state governmental agencies and community/catchment groups.


- Increase community and landowners' appreciation of the value of wetlands and other natural areas.

- Increase community capacity for the management and conservation of wetlands both on private and public owned lands.

- Secure the long-term conservation of wetlands on private property through the adoption of voluntary management agreements and conservation covenants by landowners.


The Wetland Watch project aims to take a bottom-up approach to wetlands conservation. By working with landowners, community groups and by targeting high conservation value wetlands that are not under statutory protection, WWF will broker incentives for long-term biodiversity conservation and raise a wetland protection ethic within the local communities.

By working in partnership with local authorities, the Water Corporation (WA), Swan Catchment Council (SCC), Department of Conservation and Land Management (DCLM) and Department of Environment (DoE) (formerly Water and Rivers Commission), WWF will ensure that the Wetland Watch project is strategic, complementary and holistic in its approach to wetland conservation.

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