Our wetlands and river systems include river estuaries lined with mangrove and riparian forests, floodplains and flooded forests, intertidal marshes and saltpans, as well as permanent and seasonal billabongs. These ecosystems are exceptional both in their extent and their ecological integrity, and they are critical for many migratory birds. They have long provided abundant resources for landowners, including fresh water, fish, freshwater turtles, magpie geese and other water birds, mud mussels, mud crabs and mangrove worms, as well as a variety of plants for food and medicine, and for making art and cultural artefacts. They also support major commercial fisheries and are productive resources for landowners.
The landowners whose country includes the rivers and wetlands have observed how easily these fragile ecosystems can be threatened by uncontrolled access, weeds and feral animals. They are particularly worried about the level of damage that pigs and buffalo are having, and concerned about the additional directly and indirect changes that will occur as a result of global warming. Already, they have witnessed many changes including erosion and saltwater intrusion, saltwater crocodiles in places where they used not to be, cane toads destroying goanna populations, damage to long neck turtle habitat by pigs and water buffalo and many important freshwater habitats are now unsafe for drinking and swimming due to large feral animals fouling the water and the presence of too many crocodiles.
Our goals for our rivers and wetlands are that their water is clean and fresh and support larger populations of key bush food species, and we are actively managing high-risk threat processes at 10 priority wetlands and springs.
The main threats to our rivers and wetlands are:
Together with landowners and djungkay, we check how effective our threat mitigation activities are by measuring:
- The size of the healthy population of key species such as long-neck turtles, crocodiles, water lilies and pandanus;
- The quality of our fresh water; and
- The availability of key resources to landowners.