Conference ProgramWetland Restoration

A program committed to increasing our knowledge, awareness, understanding and commitment to the conservation, interpretation and management of Wetlands

Conference
Program

The overarching theme of our conference follows the Ramsar theme for 2023 of ‘Wetlands Restoration’. The 3-day conference is divided into half day sessions, each of which is set to feature the following themes - Leadership, Reconciliation & Truth-telling, Sustainability, Partnerships & Humanities.

Note: The program below is subject to change.

SUSTAINABILITY

 
Day 1 | Morning
Wednesday, 1st February 2023

RECONCILIATION & TRUTH TELLING

Day 1 | Afternoon
Wednesday, 1st February 2023

PARTNERSHIPS

 
Day 2 | Morning
Thursday, 2nd February 2023

LEADERSHIP

 
Day 2 | Afternoon
Thursday, 2nd February 2023

WORKSHOPS

Day 3 | Morning
Friday, 3rd February 2023


THE SUSTAINABILITY SESSION

Day 1 | Morning | Wednesday, 1st February 2023


To develop and deliver standards, processes, projects, and/or programs that are environmentally, socially and economically justified.

Keynote

Sustainable Waterways Program: Then, Now, Future and Forever WA Waterways

Waterways in Western Australia have seen significant changes over the many years since the establishment of Western Australia. Many significant challenges are facing the waterways as we continue to develop and as the population increases. The Sustainable Waterways Program is an opportunity to address key water management challenges in Western Australia, by developing a shared vision for WA Waterways, and through collaboration initiate meaningful, repeatable solutions in readiness for Perth Bicentennial celebrations. The program will bring together key stakeholders and offer a platform for sharing collective knowledge about the Western Australian Waterways, with the aim of positioning the waterways as a key pillar of social, cultural, economic and environmental prosperity of the state of Western Australia.

Western Australia’s Bicentenary is a rare opportunity to convert the community’s very strong spiritual and emotional connection to the State’s Waterways to impactful social, economic, and environmental outcomes based on weaving together the traditional ecological knowledge and values of the First Nation’s people with western science and community values. This program seeks to deliver meaningful engagement and impact within the complex landscape of community, policy makers, leaders, Traditional Owners and decision-makers through Research and a body of knowledge that leads and enables meaningful conversations to protect and help our Waterways to thrive. Facilitated stakeholder workshops nurturing co-ordinated leadership, governance, management and policy for future best practice conservation, culture and community; and the development of meaningful action plans and repeatable solutions. This presentation will be an open invitation to all to join this exciting conversation over the next 10 years and beyond.

Expert Presentations

Kep Katiitjin - Waterwise Action Plan - Perth

The Waterwise Perth Action Plan 2 aims to establish world-leading waterwise communities in Boorloo (Perth) and Bindjareb (Peel) by 2030. The two-year plan supports the state government's efforts to tackle the impacts of climate change on water resources through water-saving initiatives and the creation of climate-resilient urban spaces. The plan, named Kep Katitjin – Gabi Kaadadjan in honor of the traditional knowledge and understanding of the Whadjuk and Bindjareb Noongar people, the traditional owners of the region, includes 41 actions to conserve water resources and support urban greening, biodiversity, and tree canopy growth to create climate-resilient communities. It is estimated that the plan will add an additional 500 million liters of water savings to the 800 million liters saved and 6,350 trees planted since the first Waterwise Perth Action Plan in 2019. The plan is being delivered through the collaborative efforts of 11 agencies, with input from traditional owners and local government.

Resilient Wetlands for a Sustainable and Secured Future

Protected and resorted wetlands and watersheds support a more sustainable, healthy, equitable environment for local communities and ecosystem services. In Ethiopia, wetlands cover nearly 2 per cent of the total land area of the country. They are one of the most productive ecosystems which perform multiple functions that maintain ecological integrity and balance the water flows in the drought-prone and pastoral rift valley sub-region of Ethiopia. Despite this recognition, lack of awareness and regulatory frameworks, unsustainable practices from unregulated and excessive abstraction of water and pollution from international flower companies, unabated degradation of land and watersheds, and encroachments by settlers, farms and animals have accelerated the degradation and loss of these critical wetland resources. What's the way forward?

Control and Removal of Invasive Cyprinoid Species Within Western Australian Waterways

Many Western Australian wetlands and rivers have been severely affected by large-bodied pest fish species, such as koi-carp and goldfish. Noxious fish can have devastating impacts on the water quality, vegetation and native fish populations of our precious wetland ecosystems. WRM (part of SLR) have trialled and utilised state-of-the-art pod traps in multiple wetlands around the Perth metropolitan area, as part of an integrated method to remove invasive fish species and increase the health of these wetlands.

Expert Presentations

Biodiversity, threats and solutions for the sustainability of fish and crayfish in south-west wetlands

The wetlands and rivers of South-western Australia support a unique suite of freshwater fish and crayfish species. While highly endemic, most of these fish and crayfish species are unheralded as, aside from the iconic Smooth Marron, the vast majority are small bodied and do not support recreational or commercial fisheries. However, in addition to their inherent biodiversity value, they play important roles in aquatic ecosystems with all of the native freshwater fish being carnivorous, predating heavily on midge and mosquito larvae and pupae thus providing an ecological service to humans. Unfortunately, many of these endemic species are under threat due to secondary salinisation of inland waterways, instream and riparian habitat alteration, introduced aquatic species, water abstraction and a drying climate. This presentation will shine a light on this diversity, discuss the key threats they face, and present some solutions that are being explored through partnerships between Universities, catchment groups, and local and state government.

Changing salinity in southwest Australia wetlands: A review of the SWWMP database.

DBCA and its predecessors were monitoring up to 159 wetlands as part of the Southwest Wetlands Monitoring Program, which began in 1977. This review looked to evaluate how the salinity and hydrology of these wetlands had been changing in response to chronic long term drying and warming and secondary salinization. Wetlands tend to freshen when wetting and salts concentrate when they dry so these salinity - water depth relationships were examined. Strong salinity - water depth patterns were found to be well represented by power-law or exponential relationships. A model was developed which explained contributions to the exponents of these relationships from wetland bathymetry and hydrology. From the data effects of drying and salinization could be disentangled. Of the wetlands with sufficient data 76% were found to have increasing salinity. In 36% of wetlands the primary cause of this change looked to be the result of salinization and in 40% of wetlands the cause was primarily from drying. Only 13% of wetlands had freshening patterns or no change and the remainder were ambiguous. The SWWMP data demonstrates the benefits of long term monitoring of wetland hydrology and water quality for the assessment of wetland health.

Infiltration Based Stormwater Management for Land Development

Infiltration is one of the best operational and sustainable methods to manage urban stormwater. Until recently, in stormwater management designs and selection of best stormwater management strategies, infiltration capacity of different soils were not been considered as a major factor. Therefore stormwater management strategies have failed to adequately consider the criticality of spatially varying soil permeability and their implications on stormwater runoff. Due to the increasing housing density, local land development authorities requires stormwater runoff from developing lots to be retained/detained within the property. Due to lack of information on local soil properties, specifically permeability within the predominant soils in land development areas, it is difficult to assess stormwater retention/detention requirement. This study was carried out in new development areas in the City of Gosnells, focusing on identification of soil properties and development of a typology of suitable stormwater management strategies with respect to applicable infiltration capacities.

Case Studies

Can anthropogenic wetland refuges support populations of threatened freshwater mussels under drying climatic conditions?

Salinisation, increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall all threaten freshwater habitats in southwestern Australia, leading to an overall decline in suitable freshwater refugia, a major concern for the conservation of freshwater species. Freshwater mussels play a key role in maintaining water quality in freshwater ecosystems, but the only two species found in south-western Australia are vulnerable to loss of freshwater refugia, with their range having already declined by ~ 50 % in the last 50 years. Viability of remnant populations is limited by the presence and persistence of dry season refuge pools, which are under pressure from climate change. Anthropogenic waterbodies maintaining water over seasonal dry periods have the potential to offset loss of natural wetland refuges, potentially supporting self-maintaining populations of mussels and other freshwater species. This case study looks at the potential for anthropogenic wetlands such as drains, irrigation canals, disused mining pit lakes and farm dams to support freshwater mussel populations and the contribution of mussels within these habitats in improving water quality.

THE RECONCILIATION & TRUTH-TELLING SESSION

Day 1 | Afternoon | Wednesday, 1st February 2023


To initiate, support and sustain a proactive partnership with traditional custodians for the conservation of wetlands. This includes increasing participation, support and engagement recognising the importance of traditional knowledge and expertise.

Keynote

Listening to Women: Intersections between First Nation and Western Values

The experiences and contributions of First Nation (and other) women remain underrepresented in institutional histories of our lands as well as in large-scale land management. This session will explore the importance of listening to women for advancing reconciliation and for intergenerational learning. This involves placing critical attention on guidance by Elder women, and co-design, creation and curation of knowledge, stories, and sites. We discuss projects that promote an inclusive vision of the past, present, future, in which First Nation women take on important leadership roles. Greater public recognition of women's contribution can demonstrate not only their past impact but also serve to create role models for their future leadership. This is an important intervention as Australia places significant legislative and policy attention aimed at higher levels of inclusivity. This talk will discuss ways to appropriately represent diverse voices, making a direct and critical contribution to today’s discussions about our present, and empowering First Nation women to see themselves as tomorrow's leaders.

Expert Presentations

Writing Rivers and Wetlands - First Nations Writing on Water

Writing Rivers and Wetlands - First Nations Writing on Water - Walliubup Writing Group and Kep Wangkiny Heathridge is a project funded by the Western Australian Premiers Writers Fellowship 2021. The rationale and aims of this project are to facilitate the creation of river and wetlands poems written by First Nations Authors, that will give voice to their Rivers and Wetlands connections, knowledge, and future concerns. It is my view, and I believe the view of many others, that as many of our rivers and wetlands continue to deteriorate in health, the voices and knowledge of First Nations people are urgently needed to guide how we take action to protect our precious water in the future.

One of the major themes of this work is the role and responsibility of the settler writer or scientist within the Aboriginal lands and waters of Australia. This project utilises a decolonising methodology which primacies the voices of Traditional Owners. Working with Elders Marie Taylor and family, Professor Anne Poelina, Nyikina Warrwa Traditional Custodian from the Mardoowarra, lower Fitzroy River, Deborah Moody and Marion Kickett along the Gululga Bilya Avon River, Lois May, and Carol Foley, together we are working in poetry labs and as individuals to create a polyphonic series of poems that will articulate the voices of the rivers and wetlands and the people that live along them who have millennia long ancestral connections to them.

Initially the project had the working title Two Rivers as it was mainly concerned with the Derbarl Yerrigan Swan River and the Martuwarra Fitzroy River. But as the project has unfolded it seems there are other rivers involved so the working title has been changed to Writing Rivers and Wetlands, First Nations Writing on Water. The writing groups so far have attracted people from several different places, so we have Whadjuck Noongar particpants, Whadjuck Ballardong, Bunuba, Walmajarri, Gooniyandi, and Nyikina.

Professor Anne Poelina comments that ‘river is the first author’ (personal interview), inscribing everything in the landscape and culture that lives alongside it. The river continues to etch its story through seasonal wet and dry patterns. In Nyikina culture the first ancestor created the river as they travelled through the land. Poelina describes the river as ‘a gift for humanity to share’, a natural heritage asset in common for all beings.

Writing Rivers and Wetlands, First Nations Writing on Water, is creating a kind of poetic map, which will include history, direction, description, feeling, connection, multifarious voices, ecologies and poetics that will metaphorically open the mouths of these rivers and wetlands and transform their many voices into poetry for all to learn from and share.

We will hear some of the poetry that we have already created read by the creators.

Wetland Bush Medicine & Tucker

Abstract to be updated shortly.

Connecting Our Hearts: The Significance of Plant and Wildlife Illustration and the Power of the Visual Narrative

This paper explores a particular focus on the humanities. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous examples are discussed. The significance of visual text in the storying of concepts of sustainability within wetlands maintenance, and the restoration of Caring for Country in water places can touch our hearts. In this context, Australia has a rich history of flora and fauna illustration through the lens of colonial art, graphic design, contemporary scientific images, and lovingly, ecological and environmental art. The significance of illustrating the Natural world from an Indigenous standpoint is enfolded in a narrative of the magnificent art from ancient Australian Rock Art contexts, and also the particular cultural art practices that resonate with spiritual connection for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. This embodies Traditional knowledge whilst creating with contemporary materials and techniques. This paper asserts the significance and diversity of art expression, with which the role of the humanities in fostering the spiritual, scientific, aesthetic, historic and social value of wetlands and their conservation is demonstrated.

Expert Presentations

Convincing Enrolling Gardeners - A Personal Journey on Building Community

Ever found that when having conversations about native plants, wetlands, climate change, environmental issues, or science your listeners start to look somewhere else, their body language shifts or they look at their watch? Do you sometimes find it difficult to listen to passionate people and your mind decides to wander and your ears turn off?

Growing up with Latin and Greek botanical names at the dinner table was so natural that every house did it, right? It was natural for conversations to then continue at school or basketball... except they didn't. The last 50 years were a roller coaster ride about convincing, cajoling, blaming, sharing, being passionate, and having a life dedicated to the 'cause'. Everyone needs to be convinced to connect to the urgency, the destruction, and the importance of wildflowers that all bushland needs to be saved. Right???

Building a community is a personal journey in that they discover on how to communicate all things wildflowers and achieve lasting results. How self-work, eco-psychology and the art of communication have been all involved in developing new tools to communicate about wildflowers and our environment. It has been a roller coaster ride that is not as simple as putting a native plant in the ground.

Today's results are that hundreds of gardeners have fallen back in love with gardening, connect to the joy of wildflowers and become amazed with the colour across the six seasons.

Bringing this lifetime of experience to The Wetlands Centre and Western Wildflower Group is an opportunity to share and continue to learn how to create a community with an environmental cause.

Creativity as Communication: Engaging Wider Audiences in Alternative Ways

Lisa Fieldhouse and Blake Innes from the Foundation for Indigenous Sustainable Health talk about achieving progression on the journey of reconciliation and truth-telling through creative education programs. Our programs focus on how we can engage our audiences with our themes and issues in different ways that stimulates positive solution-focused contributions, rather than just awareness. The elevation of the literacy rates of First Nation students will only come when the educational material reflects authentic representation of culture and context. The power of giving a student the open range to write and create a vision of their own is an empowering experience that has the potential to elevate that student holistically.

Groundwater Dependence - Lessons Learnt from Working Together on Country

Michelle has been working with Country Managers in the La Grange area to better understand how wetlands are supported by groundwater and how impacts can be managed. The wetlands have been selected collaboratively, based on their cultural significance rather than their ecological value (ecological value is very low). Yawuru Cultural Advisors and Country Managers have shared their knowledge on how water moves across the landscape to inform conceptualisation and played a major role in the collection of data. They have also guided the department On Country through their work around significant sites to ensure DWER staff are safe and our activities are culturally sensitive. In return, the Country Managers have experienced capacity building and skill development to support their obligation to manage country, and aspiration to be informed groundwater users for their own economic growth.

Case Studies

Archaeology of Walliabup (Bibra Lake) Wetlands

Fiona Hook has been closely involved in the study of the Beeliar Wetlands in Western Australia, a site that has been at the centre of a controversial proposal to construct the Roe 8 highway. In 2013, the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee (ACMC) initially rejected the plans due to the site's ethnographic significance, but in 2015, the committee reversed its decision and approved the construction without the presence of an anthropologist, as required by the Aboriginal Heritage Act. The committee also allegedly ignored the larger North Lake and Bibra Lake site during the reassessment.

In 2014, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs conducted a dig at the site, concluding that it had been subjected to "high amounts of disturbance" and had no artefacts within its boundaries. However, in January 2017, Hook led a volunteer dig with the aim of determining whether artefacts were still present at the site. The team of 15 volunteers and members of the Whadjuk Noongar community dug 20 shovel pits to a depth of one meter and found stone tools made mostly of quartz 80cm below the surface, as well as fossiliferous chert artefacts and granite artefacts dating back at least 5000 years.

In late 2000 funded by Rehabilitating Roe 8 Fiona Hook lead a team of Traditional Owners and archaeologists excavating an additional number of shovel test pits and two excavation areas. Flaked stone artefacts were recovered from 705% of the test pits with the oldest dated to 10,000 years ago. This evidence expands on the archaeological value identified by a 1973 excavation and discredits the Department of Aboriginal Affairs' findings from 2014. Additionally, the artefacts found indicate that the site was used for trade, as the materials discovered came from the Darling Scarp and were not found locally. The findings support the long-held belief of the Whadjuk Noongar community that the site was a significant camping place with spiritual importance.

Plenary Forum



THE PARTNERSHIPS SESSION

Day 2 | Morning | Thursday, 2nd February 2023


To initiate and sustain the widest possible proactive participation, support and engagement for the conservation of wetlands.

Keynote

Rehabilitating Roe 8: How to Deconstruct a Road and Restore Wetlands & Woodlands, with Lots of Community Input.

Rehabilitating Roe 8 (RR8) is a ten-year project, running from 2018 to 2028. It arose after clearing in 2016 and 2017 for the highly controversial ‘Roe Highway, Stage 8’. The main aim of the project is to restore habitat in the corridor back to its original state (or as close as possible). There are seven distinct habitat types in the RR8 corridor, making it a complex restoration exercise. These include Wet Forest and Woodland, Banksia Woodland and the relatively rare Banksia-Woody Pear Woodland. An integral part of the project is community input. The RR8 Advisory Committee gives guidance and advice to the Project Manager, who implements the on-ground work. The committee is currently made up of 15 members from local community groups, Nyungar groups, community individuals and a research institute. On top of this, extra consultation is completed for particular aspects such as the Path Network and Nyungar consultation relating to archaeological surveys. Volunteers are encouraged to take part in planting events and workshops throughout the year. Some groups go above and beyond. The Cockburn Community Wildlife Corridor is a highly active group, with custodianship over a patch of Banksia-Tuart Woodland in Hamilton Hill. Every fortnight they meet up on Saturday mornings to do hand weeding. This hard yakka avoids the need for chemical weed control and the effects are visible: native daisies proliferate in their patch, while they are absent in the rest of the corridor. The theory is that the non-target effects of herbicides inhibit the recruitment of certain native species. RR8 shows that land clearing is reversible and that rewilding our cities is possible. The benefits are clear: biodiversity gains, carbon sequestration, giving city dwellers access to nature, reducing the Urban Heat Island Effect and more. This talk will summarise progress to date and highlight the value of community engagement in this space.

Expert Presentations

Floating Treatment Wetlands - replicating and enhancing nature

Floating Wetlands are natures superpower for treating nutrients in a water body. In nature these are often formed when a large mass of floating aquatic plants bind together or fringe reeds that are growing from the bank break away from the bank usually during a storm. These island are then able to be colonised by other plants and used as habitat for fish, frogs, birds and aquatic invertabrates. Sam has investigated a wide range of international research and will speak about some of the latest developments and research from the US, Europe and Australia. Floating Treatment Wetland’s are a flexible constructed solution for water treatment and habitat creation improving the efficiency of pollutant removal in traditional water systems by replicating how traditional constructed wetlands and Floating Islands function and increasing the performance of these removal pathways, FTW’s increase sedimentation, plant growth submerged surface area for biofilm formation. The key for nutrient removal is the submerged root structure that provides a great environment for Bio film growth with exceptionally large surface area which allows for a significant increase in nutrient removal.

Future Directions - WA Wetlands Education - Collaboration is KEY!

In this presentation, Pauline will outline an exciting new partnership between The Wetlands Centre Cockburn and the Harry Butler Institute at Murdoch University which will offer innovative, culturally inclusive educational experiences centred around wetland restoration and conservation. The bespoke resources and programs currently in development will be built as open access, allowing them to be shared by all.

They will initially connect to local schools and communities in the Beeliar region, and be STEM curriculum-linked, featuring how technology is accelerating research in monitoring and restoring wetland ecosystems that incorporate local Indigenous knowledge and skills. Key collaborators include Herdsman Lake Discovery Centre, Murdoch University's Indigenous Education Centres, Kulbardi, and Ngangk Yira Institute for Change. Local Indigenous groups will be partners in all aspects of these new programs for wetland education.

Exciting points of difference will be a strong citizen science context in data gathering to support local research projects including DNA technologies (DNA Barcoding and E-DNA) and an accredited training facility on-site for the native garden horticulture industry. Environmental humanities will be a focus of these programs too, with the wetland precinct at Bibra Lake being developed to provide a community hub for cultural events set in nature.

Restoration of Urban Wetlands for Dragonfly Biodiversity

Dragonflies are some of the most aesthetically pleasing and most loved wetland insects, yet we know almost nothing about the ecology or biology of Australian species. Our research focused on understanding patterns of species diversity of dragonflies to identify the qualities of wetlands needed to maximise dragonfly diversity. The Beeliar wetlands were sampled in spring and summer to collect aquatic dragonfly nymphs, and their exuviae, and to record adult presence/absence at the species level. A variety of water quality, vegetation and landscape variables were also recorded. We found that vegetation (both aquatic and terrestrial) and water temperature were the variables most important to dragonflies. Dragonfly diversity was highest at wetlands with extensive stands of submerged and emergent aquatic plants and fringing trees, and at wetlands that were connected to other wetlands by native vegetation. This was because dragonfly nymphs use submerged vegetation to hunt and hide from predators and use emergent and fringing vegetation to emerge from the water and transform into the flying adult. Freshwater paperbark trees provide important habitat for metamorphosis and vital shade in summer. Common species tend to emerge as smaller adults in summer than in spring, and this may be due to changes in day length. Laboratory experiments manipulating water temperature and depth showed that while warmer temperatures did not influence dragonfly emergence, declining depths did. As the climate continues to dry and wetlands are inundated for shorter and shorter periods, some dragonfly species may disappear from our wetlands. When restoring natural wetlands or managing created wetlands, it is vital that there is sufficient aquatic and terrestrial vegetation to support dragonflies and that some wetlands retain water all year round.

Expert Presentations

Wetland Funding Proposal based on the Cranbrook Lakes Conservation Case Study

The Salt Lakes of the North Stirlings are of high avian value but need protection, riparian regeneration and feral predator control. For the past decade Green Skills has partnered with the Giliamii Centre of Cranbrook, local farmers, Birdlife WA and other groups and individuals to support salt lake and shorebird
conservation through a community-based program of 4 activities:

1) Fencing of many lake foreshores;
2) a pilot foreshore revegetation program testing low-cost methods of promoting Melaleuca regeneration of recently fenced foreshores;
3) innovative fox and cat control program linked to shorebird and waterbird conservation;
4) an community engagement program including a field event and citizen-science bird surveys

Turning science into action: The Saving Our Snake-Necked Turtle citizen science program

Southwestern snake-necked turtle (Chelodina oblonga) populations within urban environments are in decline. Road mortality and increased predation are reducing nesting female and hatchling survivorship and thereby recruitment. To help combat these threats, in 2019 a citizen science program – Turtle Trackers, was created at the City of Cockburn. Through the program, the community was trained to monitor nesting females and protect their nests. The success of Turtle Trackers in the first few years led to the Saving Our Snake-Necked Turtle project in 2022, to expand Turtle Trackers throughout southwest WA. The project formed partnerships with 12 local councils and six wildlife conservation organisations and was funded by LotteryWest. A key partnership was with a national coalition to save freshwater turtles – the 1 Million Turtles Community Conservation project. This partnership enabled the use of the TurtleSAT application to record observations of turtles and nests into a national database. It also allowed ‘Saving Our Snake-Necked Turtles‘ to broaden the scope of community involvement, with two different levels of engagement in turtle conservation – the everyday community member, and the wildlife warrior Turtle Trackers. Twenty-two education and training sessions were delivered to over 500 community members, leading to the creation of 11 Turtle Tracker Teams. These Turtle Tracker teams went on to observe and protect approximately 500 turtles and over 300 nests. An additional 100 observations of turtles and nesting events were observed by community members using the TurtleSAT application. Our goal is to increase these community observations and protection of both females and nests, to sustain southwestern snake-necked populations in wetlands across southwest WA. The data collected from this citizen science project will inform future conservation management of the species, further enhancing the prospects of the species thriving across its range.

Towards a healthier Bindjareb Djilba

The Bindjareb Djilba (Peel-Harvey estuary) is the largest inland waterbody in southern Western Australia and an internationally recognised Ramsar Site (Ramsar 482).

The Bindjareb Djilba Protection Plan is a whole of government plan to protect the Bindjareb Djilba and its internationally recognised values. Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC) is working with local Bindjareb people, government, stakeholders, community and landholders to improve the water quality of the estuary and protect its significant ecological, cultural, social, and economic values. PHCC is leading the delivery of several actions of the plan including those established under the State Government’s Healthy Estuaries WA program such as fertiliser management, fencing and waterway revegetation.

Rural landholders in the catchment are actively contributing to improving the water quality of the Bindjareb Djilba (Peel-Harvey estuary) and its waterways through on-ground actions. Farmers are investing in regular soil testing and evidence-based fertiliser application as well as taking advantage of available funding for fencing to exclude stock from rural waterways and revegetate riparian zones. Supported by PHCC, landholders are overcoming the challenges of historical rural drainage systems and transforming drains originally constructed for water conveyance to riparian landscapes designed to improve water quality and provide enhanced biodiversity and amenity.

This presentation will present case studies celebrating the achievements so far of these partnerships towards a healthier Bindjareb Djilba.

Case Studies

Nurdi Way Constructed Wetland and Living Stream Project

Nurdi Way is a typical urban drain, designed to manage ground and storm water, delivering it directly into the Canning River. Urban drainage systems often offer little ecological or social benefit and are frequently vectors for transporting nutrients, sediment, pollution, and weeds through urban environments.
DBCA’s Catchment Monitoring Program identified Nurdi Way as a priority for remediation due to high nutrient and copper loads. The Nurdi Way Constructed Wetland and Living Stream project was designed to improve water quality and habitat outcomes by modifying an open trapezoidal section of the drain into a living stream, diverting the base flow through a constructed wetland.
This project is an impressive example of partnerships collaborating effectively to deliver an outstanding project in a short time frame with opportunistic funding; delivered and implemented by SERCUL, in partnership with the City of Canning, the Water Corporation, University of Western Australia and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

This project is supported by the Swan Canning River Recovery program, delivered by Perth NRM through funding from the Australian Government.
For background information, visit: https://www.perthnrm.com/blog/2020/09/10/the-power-of-partnership/

THE LEADERSHIP SESSION

Day 2 | Afternoon | Thursday, 2nd February 2023


To increase the knowledge, awareness, understanding, participation, engagement, and commitment to the conservation of wetlands.

Keynote

Towards a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands

 

Interest in a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands has been developed through a series of workshops and partnerships initiated through the Society of Wetland Scientists. The essential component of the proposed Declaration is that all wetlands are entities that are entitled to inherent and enduring rights, which derive from their existence as members of the Earth community and should possess legal standing in courts of law. These inherent rights include the following:

  1. The right to exist
  2. The right to their ecologically determined location in the landscape
  3. The right to natural, connected and sustainable hydrological regimes
  4. The right to ecologically sustainable climatic conditions
  5. The right to have naturally occurring biodiversity, free of introduced or invasive species that disrupt their ecological integrity
  6. The right to integrity of structure, function, evolutionary processes and the ability to fulfil natural ecological roles in the Earth's processes
  7. The right to be free from pollution and degradation
  8. The right to regeneration and restoration.

The proposal has been presented to delegates at the Ramsar Convention and is being further discussed with local communities and advocates for the rights of nature. The latter having been acknowledged in the Global Biodiversity Framework adopted through the Convention on Biological Diversity. Other steps include placing the suggested rights within the context of decisions adopted by the Ramsar Convention, and seeking to understand how these rights support existing wetland conservation ethics and practices, and support complementary approaches for ensuring the sustainability and restoration of wetlands. At this stage there is a proposal towards a universal declaration of the rights of wetlands - this is seen as the start of a dialogue with every expectation that the proposal could evolve as more wisdom and knowledge is shared, and legal and policy implications are elaborated.

Expert Presentations

Wetland Management in the City of Cockburn – An Overview

The presentation will comprise of a brief overview of wetland management in the City of Cockburn.

The City of Cockburn is home to numerous wetland reserves including Bibra Lake where this conference is being held.

Bibra Lake and most of the other wetlands within the City form part of the Beeliar Regional Park, which is a network of wetland reserves located in the southern suburbs of Perth. These protected wetlands are a refuge for many plants and animals and a large amount of freshwater allows the local species to thrive. The wetlands are a source of pride for our residents and they also form a key part of the City's identity by featuring on the City's logo and corporate tagline.

Despite this, wetland management within highly urbanised areas does not come without challenges. Visitation to the reserves continues to increase, thus exposing the natural areas to high levels of vegetation degradation, weed encroachment, pollution and other threats.

This presentation will include an overview of the City's day-to-day management of its wetlands to ensure that these threats are managed and that the local ecology remains healthy and resilient. A particular focus will be given towards today's theme of wetland restoration. In addition to this, several key case studies will be presented to highlight some of 'the outside of the ordinary projects that have been undertaken by the City.

Such case studies will include:
- The nutrient stripping basins at Yangebup Lake;
- The bespoke possum bridge over Beeliar Drive that links Yangebup and Kogolup Lakes
- Environmental DNA surveying at Bibra Lake
- The Black Cockatoo Oasis at Bibra Lake
- The turtle trackers volunteer conservation program
- Walking trails.

The City hopes that the presentation will facilitate discussion amongst other land managers about how best to manage our precious wetlands.

The Helena River: A Neglected Jewel

The Helena River Alliance was formed to make a difference by aggregating the people resources of communities with an interest and passion for conserving and enhancing the river system and its heritage in a meaningful, practical manner. The vision of the Alliance is to elevate the profile of the Helena River and set up mechanisms that will protect in perpetuity the uninterrupted green corridor that still exists from source to confluence.
We have recently formed a partnership with ‘Waterways’ under Anas Ghadouani’s leadership and with financial support from the Feilman Foundation to begin the task of developing and implement an action plan to give the Helena River the respect and protection it deserves. We want to transform the Helena River into an asset for the community of WA and the people of Perth in perpetuity.

Here we will present our joint vision to make this happen.

Interpreting private landholder stream restoration practices

Relationships between people and place contribute to differences in people’s perceptions and knowledge of waterways. Understanding these differences can guide more effective waterway management as waterway authorities rely profoundly on partnerships with landholders to conserve waterways. Waterway health outcomes and policies are grounded in science, which forms the basis of communication/education to landholders. It is possible though that landholders may not comprehend the messages bound in this science. Research using an ethnographic narrative analysis attempted to understand landholder practices, interpretations and relationships regarding river restoration and discuss the implications for river management communication, education and practice. The research focused around rural landholders and aimed to compare biophysical pictures to social pictures of waterway health.

Developed in 1999, the Index of Stream Condition (ISC) is regarded as an important milestone in benchmarking the environmental condition of waterways. It provides a detailed picture of river condition integrating data on five sub-indices – hydrology, water quality, streamside zone, physical form, and aquatic life. The ISC concept appears to disregard interacting with society, especially those with a keen knowledge of river health management, including farmers and landholders who manage frontages.

Ethnography is the deliberate ‘witness-cum-recording’ of human experiences. Thus this research project was a place-based narrative analysis. Landholders and their ‘stories’ is a ‘discourse of familiarity’ with their rivers, recorded through direct interviews. They are informants with a ‘point of view’ on river health and illuminate the ‘social picture’, whereas the ISC illuminates the ‘biophysical picture’ of river health.

This research reflected a need to integrate this ‘social body’ of knowledge to the current ‘scientific problems and solutions’ approach to waterway restoration. Common knowledge and differentiated knowledge existed. Common knowledge included:
• streamside vegetation
• aquatic life as indicators
• weeds
• eco-visual functionality
• accessibility
• flow
• birds
• domestication

Differences included:
• Flow variations
• Waterbugs
• Trout
• Natural debris
• Livestock access

Expert Presentations

Wetland Conservation in WA: Past, Present and Future

Wetlands Conservation in Western Australia has had its ups and downs over the past 100 years. After a significant period of wetland destruction, vocal community members and conservation policies have provided for the protection and conservation of many wetlands. In the last decade, Western Australian politics and policies lead us to the present stagnated status quo that still leaves many wetlands with no protection. In this paper, we will highlight the micro and macro successes of the past, and the current situation and offer a vision for the future that values and protects the wetlands of Western Australia.

Wasteland to Wonderland: Recreating Functioning Ecological Wetlands at Chittering Springs and Spoonbill Lake from Degraded Farmland

This is a case study about partnerships, but also the sustainability of two important rural wetland environments on the Ellen Brook and Brockman River; a case study demonstrating leadership in ecological functioning wetland ecosystem restoration.

The Chittering Springs and Spoonbill Lake, both in the Shire of Chittering, were once degraded wet areas on rural farmland; one a waterway, the other degraded land.

Over 20 years ago, this farmland was sold and subdivided into rural-residential smaller blocks. As part of the subdivision, these areas were deemed unsuitable as saleable lots and simply left. Chittering Landcare took them on for the Shire of Chittering and has reclaimed both as ecologically functioning wetlands.
A small dam was built at Chittering Springs on the tributary of Ellen Brook to slow the water flow, transforming this acid-saline area of farmland. The area around the dam was then ripped and weeds were controlled (it was weed heaven!). Progressively, over the next 12 years, the area was restored to a wetland, surrounded by bushland, with all lead-in creeks re-vegetated. Along the way, there were issues to deal with; vandalism of the dam and 4-wheel drivers enjoying the wet-sloppy conditions requiring the area to be fenced. Tronox Mineral Sands and St Mary’s school tree-planting partnerships saw the re-vegetation occur, supported by grants from SALP, contributions from the Chittering Shire and other funding bodies.

Today, this area is an oasis! Protected by fencing with a community picnic area. Chittering Springs protects downstream Rocky Creek which flows into Ellen Brook, a tributary of the Swan River. The wetland today supports waterbirds, with a habitat created by the native rushes and sedges.

Spoonbill Lake started as a series of farm dams (known as Hart farm). When it was subdivided into rural residential lots, the dams were taken out as a reserve by the local government. Since 1998 this area has been progressively re-vegetated and restored. Annual Chittering Bird Group counts since 2009 show many species of waterbirds and bush birds are now found there. Native rushes and sedges planted in the wet areas complement dryland plants along the upper parts of the creek. Local residents took on this project, helping with planting day events. Government NHT and ongoing SALP grant funding have continued the improvement, with all woody weeds and the more invasive Typha now replaced with other native rushes. Spoonbill Lake is located on fresh-water steam, one of the few entering the Chittering Lakes, which flows into the Brockman River, another important tributary of the Swan River. Since 2006, water quality has improved and the Lake today provides important bird habitat. The Chittering Bird Group has even spotted a Greenshank on its shores. Walk trails for the local residents provide much-appreciated social and health benefits.

Upstream of the Ellen Brook and Brockman River, both these important wetland restoration projects have added to the conservation category wetland systems; a credit to Chittering Landcare, their partners and the community.

Saving Eungedup Wetlands

In early 2022 a group of concerned citizens and groups got together to buy farmland that was covered in a wetland, Eungedup Wetland, containing several breeding endangered Australasian Bitterns. This case study will examine the importance of the 103-hectare wetland to 'future-proofing' Australasian Bittern populations, it's a critical role in the Wilson Inlet Catch area for controlling nutrients leaching into the inlet, the difficulties and issues community groups face when trying to buy land for conservation (Including its ongoing management), how they were overcome and the ongoing efforts to raise the funds to buy the land.

Case Studies

A Case Study on the Restoration Work Undertaken on 3 Ramsar Wetlands in the SW Region Over the Last 5 Years

The South West Catchments Council, with funding from the Australian Government’s RLP program, has been working for five years with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions staff and various stakeholders in the South West region, to undertake restoration and conservation work on the three Ramsar wetlands found in our region. These include the Muir-Byenup wetlands located southeast of Manjimup, the Vasse-Wonnerup wetlands found in and around Busselton, and Toolibin Lake located east of Narrogin.

Each of these unique wetlands varies in their ecological characteristics but are very important for local and migratory birds as breeding and/or feeding habitats and it is vital they are conserved into the future.

This talk will focus on the successes and achievements of the wetland restoration works carried out over our five-year Ramsar project, as well as the challenges and some lessons learnt along the way. We will discuss the innovative ‘Felixer cat grooming trap trial’ we undertook at Lake Muir, and then also discuss future work that may need to be undertaken to improve the resilience of the wetlands in a changing climate.

Plenary



WORKSHOPS DAY

Day 3 | Afternoon | Friday, 3rd February 2023


To demonstrate skills, tools, resources, research or applications that contribute to growing, managing or sustaining wetland ecosystems. Also, to showcase and explore the role of humanities in fostering the scientific, aesthetic, historic, social, and spiritual value of wetlands and their conservation.

In the field

Photography & Brekkie with the Birds

Join us for an unforgettable photography workshop and brekkie with the birds on the shores of Bibra Lake. This unique experience will take you on a journey through the unconfined open-air living, breathing and thriving aviary that is the Beeliar Wetlands. Learn some technical aspects of nature photography as well as how to develop an eye for an aesthetically pleasing composition. As Georgina believes, it's not just for nature photographers to indulge in the art for just for art's sake, but to go above and beyond— photographers have a duty of care and should do everything they can to minimize human impact and help conserve our natural world. This workshop is suitable for all levels, from beginners to advanced photographers. Come and learn from an award-winning artist and take your photography skills to the sky, soaring like the birds we follow with our lenses. And fell free to bring your best camera along.

Introduction

 

TBA

Workshops

The Poetry of Wetland Textures

Tinker in the poetry of wetland textures with Lakshmi as she brings you to the very heart of wetlands. Learn to hold sensations and create pieces that sense, speak, and spark conversation.

Growing Iconic Local Colour for Wildflower Gardens, A Wetlands Centre Nursery & Propagation Demo

Native plant diversity has limited availability. Provence local species is even more limited.

In this workshop, we will share the journey of developing local iconic species at The Wetlands Centre education nursery, have the experience of sitting in a circle with other participants, take a walk through the new landscapes and the Wildflower Display and Educational gardens and learn a few propagation techniques.

Come and immerse yourself in all things wildflowers to experience the connection of others sharing, explore our new gardens and visit our state-of-the-art nursery.

Workshops

All Creatures Great and Small

Come and discover how to protect and conserve our precious wildlife during your everyday life. From the cutest creepy crawly creatures to our totally awesome turtles and bounding bandicoots we can make small changes to make a big difference.
Better still we can be a good example for others to follow and pass on our tips to friends and families.

Become an awesome advocate for our amazing wildlife.

The workshop will be presented by three veterinarians involved in Wildlife Care and Conservation.

Identify and Catalogue Species - DNA barcoding - Fun, Accessible Way to Build Wetland Warriors of the Future

This workshop will allow you to experience a technique that offers faster and more accurate identification of species - while using authentic research-grade equipment (surprisingly user-friendly) and guided by young dynamic scientists currently working in the exciting world of biotechnology.

Pauline Charman established The Australian Barcode for Life Project for community groups and schools to experience pulling back the curtain on what it's like to work with an organism's DNA as a tool for identifying its species based on its genetic code.

So expect to pull on gloves, and a lab coat and be fascinated and inspired to begin barcoding species in your wetland environment over the coming years and help in the race to classify all Australian species - before we lose them!


Register Today

Join us for an outstanding experience that brings together scientists, planners, community leaders, educators, natural resource managers, aboriginal elders, environmental champions, nature enthusiasts and stakeholders in the network that connects us all – Our Wetlands.