Status of Wetlands in Northern Australia

Finlayson, C.M., and Lukacs, George P. (2003) Status of Wetlands in Northern Australia. In: Protecting the Values of Rivers, Wetlands and the Reef. From: 2nd National Conference on Aquatic Environments: Sustaining our Aquatic Environments - Implementing Solutions, 20 - 23 November 2001, Townsville, QLD, Australia.

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Abstract

Compared to southern Australia it is generally considered that wetlands in northern Australia are generally 'intact' and possibly close to 'pristine'. With the exception of a few specific areas we accept the comparison, but baulk at making a categorical statement that supports the impression that northern wetlands are in good condition. Without getting into an esoteric debate about concepts we provide an analysis of pressures on northern wetlands and point to major concerns for the future. We do this by assessing the extent of wetland inventory information and recommend that a coordinated approach using standardised protocols and core data is needed to complete the picture and make this available to users. Further, ecological assessment, including structured risk assessment of pressures is urgently needed. This not only provides a considered base for management actions but also for further prioritisation of research effort. We then identify major research topics that need to be addressed.

Our analysis is essentially based on the biophysical features of northern wetlands. These are valuable and in some instances well known and protected. However, in order to conserve and ensure wise use of wetlands we contend that this approach is insufficient. We propose that a stronger emphasis be placed on sustainable use of the goods and services which wetlands provide humans. The challenge in doing this is to demonstrate through research activities that the provision of these goods and services is dependent on the maintenance of wetland habitats and their species. The case for doing this is illustrated through a framework relating goods and services to ecosystem components and thence to pressures that could degrade these, including the emerging pressures of globalisation of trade and global climate change, and the research required to understand these sufficiently well to support management responses.

Item ID: 7818
Item Type: Conference Item (Refereed Research Paper - E1)
Keywords: ecosystem; management; wetlands
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Department of Natural Resources & Mines

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ISBN: 0-7345-2463-3
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2010 01:43
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960999 Land and Water Management of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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