The Nature Conservation Council has launched a campaign to have the Menindee Lakes system in Far Western NSW 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 Menindee Lakes have been dubbed the Kakadu of the South and one of the most important wetlands in southeastern Australia,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.
“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.
“We 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 of the local community, the Barkandji Traditional Owners, 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.
Menindee Lakes comprises four main lakes – Cawndilla, Menindee, Pamamaroo and Wetherell – and several smaller lakes with a combined capacity of 1,731,000 megalitres, three and half times the capacity of Sydney Harbour. Lake Menindee, the largest of the lakes, is 16 kilometres long and 14 kilometres wide. Ref
What are Ramsar wetlands
Ramsar wetlands are those that are representative, rare or unique wetlands, or are important for conserving biological diversity. These are included on the List of Wetlands of International Importance developed under the Ramsar convention. Ref
Ramsar wetlands in NSW
Blue Lake, Lake Pinaroo (Fort Grey Basin), Myall Lakes, Fivebough and Tuckerbil Swamps, Little Llangothlin Nature Reserve, Central Murray Forests, Gwydir Wetlands, Narran Lake Nature Reserve, Paroo River Wetlands, Hunter Estuary Wetlands, Macquarie Marshes, Towra Point. Ref