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Our plan to protect NSW's coastline and wetlands

18 September 2023

New South Wales' coastline is stunning. From mangrove forests teeming with life, to crystal clear waters with turtles and dolphins playing in the shallows, it's one of the things that makes our state so amazing to live in.

Wetlands work hard. They purify our water, protect us from storms and store vast amounts of carbon.

They are also some of the most productive and biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, providing habitat and nurseries for countless threatened species, and a haven for birds that travel thousands of kilometers to nest and feed.  

Sadly, wetlands are among the fastest disappearing landscapes in the world, with 70% lost since 1900. 

In NSW, coastal wetlands are being decimated by inappropriate coastal development, habitat destruction and the over-extraction of water. 

This is why today, NCC is announcing a new campaign to protect and conserve our coastal wetlands.  

Today’s laws fail to protect the estuaries, lagoons, rivers, marshes, lakes, floodplains and mangrove forests that connect the land to the sea. 

NCC’s new campaign seeks to fix these laws so they take a holistic view of the interconnected needs of our wetlands. 

With climate change and sea level rise changing the face of our coastline, it will take time to develop a comprehensive analysis of the regulatory reforms required to protect our coastal wetlands.  

In the meantime, there are two simple measures the NSW government can take immediately to stop making the problem worse.  

Firstly, reverse the changes introduced last year that tripled the volume of water that private dams along the coast could take.  

This reckless and scientifically baseless decision will see salt water creep further inland, creeks and streams run dry, and cause severe damage to coastal ecosystems and the communities who depend on them. 

Secondly, the state government must address the “zombie” developments threatening environments and communities up and down the coast

'Zombies' are the thousands of development approvals that were granted before laws requiring environmental, cultural heritage, bushfire and flood risk assessment were enacted. 

They are being dusted off and used to enable a developer onslaught that destroying our fragile coastal wetlands, and fundamentally changing the character of NSW’s coastal villages.  

You can help kickstart our campaign to protect the NSW coast by donating here.

We are also seeking case studies of estuaries, lagoons, rivers, marshes, lakes, floodplains and mangrove forests that are being threatened by inappropriate development or the destruction of upstream wetlands.

If you are aware of any such instances, please email Sam Johnson, Coastal Wetlands Community Organiser at [email protected] 

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