Yandina Creek Wetlands
Are the Yandina Creek Wetlands a pristine environment?
Are they worth protecting?
Do they tick all the regulatory boxes for biodiversity and habitat criteria?
Do the 140 plus species of birds, including critically endangered species, that visit these wetlands care (and the multitude of other flora and fauna)?
What’s going on?
There has been a quiet campaign going on for more than three three years to protect some tidal wetlands at Yandina Creek. Recently, in a breaking news story in February 2017, the public was informed that land at Yandina Creek had been purchased through a deal with Unitywater for $4.1 million. Very few people, including government agencies and even adjacent neighboring property holders, were aware that this deal was being negotiated.
These wetlands were purchased as part of a sewage offset deal for Unitywater. Birdlife Australia, Australia’s preeminent avian conservancy, feels that this purchase represents a great opportunity for the wetlands to be restored. However, at this point there has been no official confirmation by Unitywater of any restoration plans (similar to their own Coolum wetlands restoration project). The acquisition of this area by Unitywater represents an interesting mix of private sector ownership and government agencies coming together to manage the area.
Being private land, the questions now are:
- How will the wetlands be managed?
- What access, if any, will the public have to these wetlands?
- Who will be involved in the consultation for developing a management plan and restoration?
- What will this land be managed for – for conservation purposes or for offset requirements – and are these two things mutually exclusive?
It has been suggested that the protection of these wetlands may also represent an opportunity to develop the site for environmental education and eco-tourism, while reducing pressure on the Maroochy River catchment system. This sounds ambitious and as already mentioned, there is no confirmation of intent or plans at this stage.
In summary, although we are cautiously optimistic about the purchase of these wetlands, there is still a lot of uncertainly about the future of the wetlands.
A Short History
An avid bird watcher, Greg Roberts was one who saw the the value of this habitat. Bordering the Maroochy river, this area was old cane farm land which became inundated daily with water due to the degradation and neglect of floodgates used to stop tidal influx into the area. Over time, the land reverted back to a wetlands state, a habitat once more common in the region, which has often been destroyed through urban development. Due to a current lack of suitable wetlands habitats, birds and animals quickly inhabited and utilised this area.
Although not ‘natural’, these wetlands replace critical habitat that has been lost in the area. Through informal surveys, there is documentation that several critically endangered species and migratory birds now use the habitat.
Greg Roberts has spearheaded a three year campaign to save these wetlands. The protection of the Yandina wetlands is a good example of perseverance and the power of personal commitment to protect an area and achieve positive environmental outcomes. From the outset, the plan to preserve this area has been met with little government support or commitment. Not meeting requirements for consideration of Council Environmental Levy funds or other funding mechanisms at higher government levels, it appeared that efforts to preserve these wetlands were destined to fail. Thanks in a large part to Robert’s efforts and community groups such as Birdlife Southern Queensland, a positive outcome for the environment has hopefully been achieved.
Facts about the Wetlands.
Close to 200 ha of land bordering Yandina Creek has been acquired under the purchase by UnityWater. It is proposed that these lands will be restored to a healthy wetlands state.
These wetlands are important habitat for aquatic and migratory bird species due to historic loss of suitable habitats for these species. Over 140 bird species have recently been recorded in the area. Significantly, these wetlands provide a critical link in the flyway of migratory species between Australia and Asia which are in drastic decline.
Of particular note is the use of these wetlands by shorebirds, including the endangered Australian Painted Snipe, the critically endangered Curlew Sandpiper, and the rarely seen Broad-billed Sandpiper or Red-necked Avocet. According to Commonwealth guidelines, these wetlands are arguably internationally significant and should be protected under RAMSAR conventions, of which Australia is a signatory.
Further detailed information about the wetlands can be found at Greg Roberts web blog here.
A beautiful pictorial of many of the bird species found at these wetlands can also be found here.
What we are doing.
How the area is to be managed, what environmental practices will be used, what conservation management practices will be employed and what access the public and private sectors will have to these wetlands are still to be determined.
The focus of this campaign will be to provide information to the community on the status of the Wetlands protection process. We will also aim to work with Council, stakeholders, and community groups to achieve the best-possible environmental outcomes for the Yandina Creek Wetlands.
What you can do.
1.You can write to UnityWater and thank them for purchasing these properties and encourage them to restore the wetlands to benefit the community. Send a quick thank you to them here.
2. While Public access to this site is still to be determined, these wetlands are a hidden gem on the Sunshine Coast, teeming with wildlife waiting to be discovered. Their future management needs to be a collaboration with the public, traditional owners, and stakeholders to ensure that this resource is protected and enjoyed by generations to come. Encourage the council and state government to work closely with UnityWater to achieve the best environmental outcomes for our wetlands. Let the Sunshine Coast Council know here that this issue is important to you and that you expect them to be active in the consultation and management of these wetlands. Alternatively, call them at (07) 5475 7272 to talk to the Coordinator of Community Planning and Strategy.
3. Contact your local councilor and let them know how you would like to see the Wetlands protected. You can find your local councilor here.
4. Check back from time to time to see updates on the progress of the site or further news on how this issue is developing.
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