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Training Wungurr Rangers, Gibb River station, Central Kimberley © Jess Koleck / Wilinggin Aboriginal Corporation / WWF-Aus

Training Wungurr Rangers, Gibb River station, Central Kimberley © Jess Koleck / Wilinggin Aboriginal Corporation / WWF-Aus

Happy World Wetlands Day!

02 Feb 2017

  • kimberley
  • nabarlek
  • protected areas

Today, we’re celebrating a very specific type of ecosystem - wetlands.

More than a billion people make a living from wetlands around the world. These beautiful oases provide livelihoods, from fishing and ecotourism, to farming and drinking water for communities.

All across the world, the international conservation community celebrates this day, which marks the anniversary of the 1971 signing of the Convention of Wetlands, also known as the Ramsar Convention.

And at home, we’re celebrating some good news of our own.

Earlier this week, the Western Australian Government and the Wilinggin Traditional Owners announced a national park for the Kimberley. The new Wilinggin National Park will now protect over 740,000 ha of the magical Kimberley region, including vital wetland areas.

These picturesque wetlands are some of the most pristine in the world and provide habitat and fresh water to an abundance of endangered animals. They also act as vital nurseries for a range of species including barramundi, provide seasonal homes to migratory birds and have huge cultural significance to the Traditional Owners and rangers who work to protect them.

With the international theme of this year’s World Wetlands Day decided as ‘risk reduction’, we think the protection of these culturally and biologically significant lands couldn’t have come at a better time. Without appropriate protection of these vital ecosystems, the unique plant and animal life that call these hubs of biodiversity home could be seriously threatened.

In WA, WWF has been working with the Wunggurr Rangers for the last decade to monitor remote areas of the Kimberley as well as analyse the natural and cultural value of wetlands, including those around Munja.

This new national park is also likely to be hugely significant for the search and protection of the elusive nabarlek, a mysterious rock-wallaby thought to be on the brink of extinction and one that we’re working to protect.

WWF has worked to conserve and protect wetlands worldwide for more than 40 years through the Ramsar Convention, the only international treaty devoted to a single ecosystem type. More than 476,000 acres of wetland have been protected through this treaty, saving them and their services for future generations.