The coastal wetlands of our region display a wide range of values. The Shoalwater and Corio bay wetlands are Ramsar-listed and important for migratory bird species. Within this complex is Port Clinton lowlands, a series of freshwater and coastal wetlands.
Broad Sound in the north has a huge tidal fluctuation within a naturally turbid shallow embayment. Wetlands on the mainland in this area have been modified to a large extent with the creation of bunded walls and levies to stop encroachment of salt water and providing ponded pastures delivering fodder for cattle. Wetlands around St Lawrence are home to the painted snipe (an endangered bird species) and are an important nursery for fish species.
There are a number of smaller coastal wetlands that are important along the coast. Kinka wetlands is a good example of a small coastal wetland close to urban development between Yeppoon and Emu Park. Despite its proximity to these developed areas, it still displays many of its original natural values and is often used by FBA and partners (Capricornia Catchments) to provide the general public an opportunity to experience the biodiversity and unique habitat associated with these coastal systems and to understand the need to protect them. Some repair works have occurred at Kinka Wetlands with the installation of fishways, revegetation and pest animal control.
The Fitzroy River’s coastal wetland systems and marine plains are quite significant in terms of biodiversity and connectivity to the Reef. These wetlands are instrumental in slowing down floodwaters, trapping sediments and nutrients and providing habitat. The sheer size of the delta contributes to ecological services that are critical for a healthy Keppel Bay and ultimately the Reef.
Threats to these areas include degradation by processes that cause removal of habitat, reduced water quality, removal/diversion of water, excessive grazing pressures and pest animal invasion. Pests include feral pigs that destroy habitat in and around the wetlands, weeds such as hymenachne and also pest fish such as tilapia, an introduced African species that aggressively dominates aquatic habitat.
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