Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said the first report on the condition of Victoria's wetlands shows that, despite 13 years of drought, more than half of the state's high value wetlands were in good or excellent condition.
The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) today released the results of an assessment of the condition of almost 600 high value wetlands undertaken in 2009-2010.
Mr Smith said this was the first time in Australia a state-wide assessment of wetland condition had been done.
"The fact that more than half of Victoria's high value wetlands were in good or excellent condition, even though at the time of the assessment it had been incredibly dry, reflects the resilient nature of wetlands and the work undertaken to protect them," Mr Smith said.
"Since then, there has been widespread rain and flooding across the state which has really benefitted Victoria's wetlands. While it's normal for many wetlands to undergo drying, an extended dry period can impact on wetland condition.
"Victoria's wetlands are special places that are valued by the community for their distinctive plants and animals, for the recreational opportunities they provide, for their scenic values and cultural heritage.
"For the first time we now have a state-wide condition report of wetlands which can be used to identify threats, be a foundation for policy and help develop suitable management programs.
"The condition assessment results provide a baseline which will help monitor changes over time and measure the effectiveness of wetland protection and enhancement programs."
Victoria has around 13,000 natural wetlands which vary greatly in character, ranging from lakes, floodplain billabongs, alpine peatlands, marshes, shallow freshwater wetland and saline wetlands.
The high value wetlands for the 2009-10 assessment were chosen because of their priority for appropriate management.
High value wetlands are those that are recognised as being significant for their environmental values.
They include Victoria's Ramsar sites which are listed as internationally important under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and wetlands listed in A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia.
The wetlands were assessed using six components that are critical to the function of wetlands – the condition of the wetland catchment, the physical form, the hydrology, the water properties, the soil and the vegetation.
- 24% excellent condition
- 32% good condition
- 30% moderate condition
- 14% poor
- 1% very poor
The report cards for individual high value wetlands on public land can be found at www.dse.vic.gov.au/wetlands