International Wetlands Day Focus – Peel-Yalgorup Ramsar listed Wetlands 482 – Peel-Harvey Estuary
This Natures Heart Intention project aims to:
- reflect on human behavior in relation to Nature
- provide basic information on the Peel-Harvey Estuary, a Ramsar listed wetland,
- identify organisations and projects taking action to regenerate waterways locally,
- describe some with global importance that effect climate change via hydrology and carbon sequestration to name two processes and
- invite you to set an intention that wetlands be protected and regenerated.
We are well into the 6th Major Extinction event of Earth and it is predominantly caused by the actions of humans. The continued push for ‘economic growth’, the growing population, which puts pressure on ecosystems and a disconnection with our natural ecology, has led us here.
We must stop all action that is putting biodiversity at risk and regenerate the land and oceans. There are many ingenious and Indigenous solutions that we can adopt in the areas of energy and food production as well as methods for cleaning up the toxic wastes we have produced. It just takes the thoughts of the inventors and first adapters to be communicated in a way that reaches the hearts of the next wave of adapters, and then the next.
We adopt change based on how it fits our current belief systems and values. For example, if we value our freedom to use motorized craft to reach the maximum speed, do maneuvers and jumps and don’t value other life forms like nesting birds, conservation and regeneration will be slow or retrograde. (The two major effects of recreation on the Peel-Yalgorup wetlands are erosion of the shoreline due to boating and vehicle use and disturbance of waterbirds at vulnerable stages in their lifecycle. Photo from WA Peel Strategic Assessment ).
However, as the amount of people who value connectedness to all living beings and seeing the sentience in each increases then we will move rapidly towards halting the extinction crisis and possibly bring many back from the brink.
The Peel-Harvey Estuary, part of the Ramsar listed Peel-Yalgorup wetlands is a perfect example of how we can not only holt further extinction but possibly regenerate and restore ecosystems. However, some ecosystems cannot be restored due to major interventions. Starting with the South Yunderup canal development, followed by the construction of the Dawesville Cut we observed the dredging of the estuary in South Yunderup that disturbed the bottom and released sulphuric acid that adversely affected fish populations. Then the introduction of significant tidal movement and saline water from the ocean forever changed the littoral vegetation, of note the health decline of Malaleuca rhaphiophylla and certain Eucalypt species and reduction of river fish especially cobbler. A full report was made of the changes in the Ecological Character Description for the Peel-Yalgorup Ramsar Site (2007) required by the Ramsar listing due to the modification of the wetland. The report says that although significant changes have occurred it still qualifies for the listing due to the diverse and high number of birds resident and visiting the wetlands and the thrombolites.
The major risk to loosing the biodiversity and aliveness, and therefore the actual listing is the disturbance of the black sludge which will release sulphuric acid and selenium into the water with devastating effects on aquatic and avian life. (Photo fromWA Peel Strategic Assessment)
The original cause of the algae blooms, which resulted in three solutions being named including the channel construction, were to reduce agricultural practices that led to increased nitrogen discharge and removal of the algae. The introduction of saline ocean water has reduced the macro-algae, but it is still devastating areas, replacing sand beaches with sludge and creating anaerobic environments that kill fish. Reducing the ‘nutrient’ run off (or measured levels in the water) has not been achieved. The Peel Harvey Catchment Council has several projects and this is now being addressed, but they expect their education programs will take time. They have several projects that are aimed at specific populations and are following the “Wise Use” principles, which includes nature-based tourism, and commercial and recreational fishing.
The second goal of the People and Estuary Plan is to inform and support politicians in making wise choices in relation to the threats and requirements of the wetlands. A lot more focus on regenerative agriculture and re-wilding or creation of sanctuaries is required. Moves towards sanctuaries and listings of places of biodiversity were happening before the turn of the century, but a ‘force’ has been winding back these protections in the name of economic growth. We are the force that will turn it around.
Together we can grow a more beautiful world. Read more about how we can do it here. Specifically to identify organisations and projects taking action to regenerate waterways locally and also those of global importance that effect climate change via hydrology and carbon sequestration to name two processes.