Swamps, marshes, billabongs, lagoons, fens, peat lands and chain-o-ponds; all these are names for wetlands. Seasonally or permanently inundated with water, wetlands have unique soil conditions that support many different kinds of aquatic plants and wildlife that live, feed and breed in them.
Wetlands are important for many environmental, social and economic reasons and they play a key role in how our environment functions. Wetlands help purify incoming flows of water by breaking down nutrients and other pollutants, act as natural sinks and reduce flooding, and support life during times of drought.
They can be places of great natural beauty, and many have special significance to Aboriginal people.
A unique and well-known wetland in the catchments is Wingecarribee Swamp. The swamp is over 5,000 years old and is one the best examples of a montane peatland on mainland Australia. It is located immediately upstream of the Wingecarribee Reservoir, which plays an important role in water supply for the Southern Highlands, Illawarra, Goulburn and Sydney Regions. WaterNSW operates the Wingecarribee Reservoir within a limited water level range to preserve the integrity of the swamp.
Wetlands can be easily degraded. Draining for agricultural or urban development, water impoundment and farm dams, extraction, uncontrolled stock access, and clearing for vegetation can significantly disturb the health, function and value of wetlands. In some cases, wetlands are permanently destroyed.
Some wetlands in the catchment are listed as Nationally Important. These include Wingecarribee Swamp, Thirlmere Lakes, and wetlands in the Paddys River district such as Stingray, Mundego, Hanging Rock and Long Swamps.
Landowners should seek advice about managing wetlands on their property.
What you can do:
- Use fences to control stock access to wetlands, and create a buffer zone where possible.
- Avoid actions which may interfere with water flows near wetlands, such as dam construction.
- Investigate wetland plants, soils and water, and decide if actions are needed to protect, or restore its values.
- Control pests and weeds, and seek advice about using the right methods.
- Monitor wetland changes over time, and seek advice about what they mean, and what you can do.