A Ramsar-wetland in suburbia: wetland management in an urbanised, industrialised area
Wetlands provide crucial services to support human populations and intrinsic environmental functioning. They are, therefore, recognised at higher-level global conservation treaties down to regional and local environmental management plans. Palaeorecords to understand preimpact conditions and ranges of natural variability are critical, alongside ongoing monitoring of ecosystem health for understanding important wetlands and determining long-term conservation strategies. They also enable effective analysis of human impacts. Towra Point Nature Reserve is an internationally significant wetland complex listed under multiple international conservation agreements, including the 1971 Ramsar Convention. It faces similar challenges to other coastal wetlands globally: sea level rise, changing shoreline conditions, and anthropogenic impacts. Its location within Sydney's Botany Bay results in high potential for pollutants to enter the wetland complex. This makes ongoing monitoring of the ecosystem critically important. This study has found that arsenic, lead and zinc are relatively elevated in the southern part of the embayment, adjacent to an urban area, where concentrations are near to, or exceeding trigger levels (ANZECC/ARMCANZ 2000). In contrast, in the western part of the embayment contaminant levels are well below trigger values. We propose that these trigger levels should be adopted and incorporated into the Towra Point Plan of Management.