‘Mind-boggling’ funding for SA shorebird and wetlands project

A $17 million, two year project to improve South Australia’s shorebird habitat has been welcomed by conservation groups, but they warn there must be a longer-term plan to protect migration routes.

Apr 16, 2024, updated Apr 16, 2024
A Banded Stilt in the Coorong, is just one of the shorebirds the new fund is hoping to protect. Photo: Tom Hunt

A Banded Stilt in the Coorong, is just one of the shorebirds the new fund is hoping to protect. Photo: Tom Hunt

The federal government, working with the Greens and state government, committed $17 million over two years to improve shorebird and wetland habitat across the Coorong, Lower Lakes, Murray Mouth and South-East.

The funding will deliver infrastructure on wetland and floodplain flats, maintain food webs and improve critical breeding habitats for shorebirds and other threatened species.

South Australian Shorebirds Foundation founder and research director Dr Keith Jones said the target areas were critical to shorebirds migrating from the northern hemisphere.

Jones said the $17 million funding was “absolutely mind-boggling” but the two-year project timeframe would not be enough to assess and understand its impact.

“The effects of the changes in [those] habitats should be monitored afterwards too,” he said.

“I would certainly like to see it being extended to further funding on a regular basis.”

The targeted wetlands are Ramsar sites which are protected wetland sites deemed to have international importance.

The targeted wetlands, including the Coorong, are Ramsar sites which are protected wetland sites that have been deemed to have international importance.

Environment and Water Minister Tanya Plibersek said restoring the Murray Mouth, Lower Lakes and Coorong was a critical investment.

“The Murray-Darling Basin is vital for our communities, farmers and First Nations groups, and we must also work together to protect and restore wetlands within the Basin,” she said.

“This new project will ensure the survival of our internationally significant wetlands and the plants and animals who call them home.”

Birds South Australia conservation sub-committee chair Raymond Nias wants Birds SA included in the conversation.

InDaily in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

“We are hoping to be involved in helping make decisions and influencing the outcomes on how and where it’s spent,” he said.

“The key thing for us is to ensure that, you know when you’re doing restoration of wetlands or managing wetlands you need to manage for a variety of different types of habitats.”

Nias said the various species of birds that migrated to the south-east wetlands required different habitats for breeding, resting and roosting, and water levels needed to be managed closely as well as vegetation and other animals that make up an entire ecosystem of microhabitats.

“I think that it’s not enough over the long term because a lot of these sites will need ongoing management in the future,” he said.

“We would like to see a greater commitment to environmental funding in South Australia full stop.

“I think it would make a real difference to our coastal wetlands.”

Nias’s comments come as competing stakeholders meet in Sydney to scrutinise how the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is working.

Scientists, environmentalists, irrigators, community and government representatives are meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the health of Australia’s largest river system.

“It’s important to talk… progress starts with dialogue, we need to understand different perspectives,” Andrew McConville, who heads up the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, said.

“We do need to talk as part of the journey to get a basin plan that’s fit for the future.”

with AAP

Topics: regional
Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InDaily.
All rights reserved.