Judy Edwards

Judy Edwards

Former Minister for the Environment; Science

    Edwards takes action on wetlands conservation

    17/12/2005 12:00 AM

    Environment Minister Judy Edwards today announced a series of new policy initiatives to conserve key wetland ecosystems along the Swan Coastal Plain.

    The moves are based on a partnership approach and aim to assist landowners in managing wetlands on their properties for conservation while at the same time enabling them to continue sustainable land management practices.

    They also will ensure that any development proposals for conservation category wetlands undergo an environmental assessment by the Environmental Protection Authority.

    The initiatives are part of the State Government’s response to an independent assessment of the draft Environmental Protection Policy for Swan Coastal Plain wetlands.

    “New information prepared for the next State of the Environment report shows that we have been losing all types of wetlands over the past 10 years at the rate of about 1,820ha a year,” Dr Edwards said.

    “Conservation category wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain are disappearing at the rate of 440ha a year. That is about a cricket ground a day.

    “Consequently, identifying and registering our last remaining conservation category wetlands can avoid creating more environmental disasters for future generations.”

    The new wetland policy will include a register of Government and privately-owned conservation category wetlands. Any proposed development, draining or clearing of these wetlands will require assessment by the EPA.

    The Minister said the criteria for defining conservation category wetlands including damplands, would be independently reviewed.

    Wetlands identified as needing further investigation, would be screened against the revised criteria. Landowners would have access to an appeal process that would include on-site visits to ensure scientific accuracy.

    “This move will provide greater certainty for landowners who previously may have been concerned that local knowledge was not being used when it came to identifying wetlands,” Dr Edwards said.

    Assistance will be available for landowners to help prepare wetlands management plans and priority conservation actions. The focus is on providing greater clarity and certainty for landowners on permitted land uses around their wetlands.

    “Our emphasis is on practical partnerships to assist landowners manage their conservation category wetlands in ways that avoid environmental harm and allow them to continue sustainable land management practices,” the Minister said.

    Dr Edwards said conservation of biodiversity and ecological processes was a priority in environmental protection policies, but such policies would only be effective if there was genuine community support, especially by stakeholders who were directly affected.

    Landowners would have access to a number of incentive schemes to assist them in developing management plans for their wetlands.

    Dr Edwards instigated the assessment because she was concerned that the draft policy needed to be considered in light of broader social and economic issues.

    A copy of the assessment and the State Government’s formal response is available through the Department of Environment’s website - http://www.environment.wa.gov.au/.

    The new policy is expected to take effect from March 2006.

    Minister's office - 9220 5050