Locally, regionally, internationally important

There are over 14,000 natural wetlands in our region (Healthy Waterways Strategy, 2018). Wetlands are some of the most abundant environments on earth and provide important ecological services and values. They are important plant habitats which, in turn, support feeding and breeding for birds and animals.  Wetlands are natures water purifiers. They protect water quality in the region’s rivers and bays by detaining flood flows, filtering, storing and recycling sediments and nutrients.

Many wetlands occur where groundwater comes to the surface. These connections support groundwater recharge and make wetlands reliable habitat refuges during droughts.

Many of our wetlands contain very significant and rare vegetation communities such as the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act-listed Seasonal Herbaceous Wetlands, and saltmarshes. Thousands of migratory birds travel annually to wetlands alongside Port Phillip Bay and Western Port from as far away as Alaska, Siberia, China and Japan.

The region includes three wetland complexes which are listed under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (a global, intergovernmental treaty for the conservation of wetlands):

  • Western Port
  • Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands
  • Port Phillip (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula

All wetlands are highly important from a cultural perspective, having a significant meaning for Traditional Owners. Some wetlands have high amenity and liveability value where people like to walk and birdwatch. Some wetlands are constructed, playing a key role in flood mitigation and water quality management.

Despite the many values of wetlands, many wetlands are under threat from urban development, climate change and other pressures.