25 January 2018

Canberrans urged to have their say on conserving ACT rivers

| Glynis Quinlan
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ACT Environment Minister Mick Gentleman and ACT Parks and Conservation Director Daniel Iglesias launching the consultation process at Casuarina Sands. Photo: Supplied.

Canberrans are being urged to have their say on a draft strategy to conserve the ACT’s rivers and the land alongside them as well as five threatened fish species and two threatened plant species.

The draft 2018 Aquatic and Riparian Conservation Strategy examines ways to manage and repair the ACT’s waterways given the threats posed by climate change, water extraction, overfishing, erosion and sedimentation, pest plants and animals and disease.

It also includes action plans for two threatened riparian plant species – Tuggeranong Lignum and Murrumbidgee Bossiaea – which are only found in the ACT, and five threatened fish species – the Two-spined Blackfish, Macquarie Perch, Murray River Crayfish, Silver Perch and Trout Cod.

In launching the consultation process at Casuarina Sands on Tuesday (January 23), ACT Environment Minister Mick Gentleman said that conserving the ACT’s rivers and the land alongside them is crucial to the ongoing survival and well-being of the wildlife that relies on them, as well as the environment and the community.

“The Conservator for Flora and Fauna is asking the community to comment on the draft 2018 Aquatic and Riparian Conservation Strategy, which looks at how we can best continue to manage and repair our precious waterways,” Mr Gentleman said.

“We are particularly keen to hear the community’s views on how to improve and increase their engagement in river-based activities and projects, for example by supporting and promoting citizen science, increasing awareness and engaging with local Indigenous communities on traditional ecological knowledge.”

According to the draft strategy, the waterways being looked at are the Murrumbidgee, Molonglo and Cotter rivers and their tributaries.

“Our waterways provide many critical ecosystem services. They are vital providers of water for consumption and habitat for plants and animals, as well as being sought out as aesthetically beautiful places,” Mr Gentleman said.

According to the draft strategy, managing threats is a key strategy for conserving and restoring aquatic and riparian zones in the ACT.

“Aquatic and riparian areas are vulnerable to many threats because water resources are in great demand and subject to competing pressures from environmental needs and human activities such as irrigation, recreation, domestic and industrial extraction,” the draft strategy states.

“The reduction in water availability is a key threat for aquatic and riparian areas in the ACT.

“These waterways are also threatened by a lack of connectivity, reduced water quality, pest species, adverse land management practices and other anthropogenic impacts. In addition, climate change is likely to exacerbate current and future threats.”

Mr Gentleman said the draft strategy builds on the achievements of the original 2007 strategy.

“The strategy provides conservation management guidelines for the protection and enhancement of river areas; identifies threats and provides guidelines for threat management; outlines monitoring and research objectives; provides the strategic context for the action plans; and suggests strategies to increase community awareness and involvement.”

The draft 2018 Aquatic and Riparian Conservation Strategy and action plans are open for comment until 11 March 2018. Click here to see the draft strategy and comment.

Are you concerned about the increasing threats to the ACT’s waterways? Would you be interested in being involved in river-based projects? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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