Freshwater wetland systems within protected areas

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Key finding

Eight per cent of freshwater wetlands in Queensland are within protected areas. The majority are palustrine systems and are within national parks.

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Drainage divisions (select locations to filter information)

Queensland

Freshwater wetlands improve water quality, provide water for stock and irrigation, and provide habitat for many dependent native species.

Protected areas offer freshwater wetlands one of the best conservation measures, as the human pressures on the systems are limited by legislative protection. Protected areas are listed under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and include:

  • national parks
  • national park that is Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land
  • regional parks
  • nature refuges.

Across Queensland, there are 444,671ha of freshwater wetlands within protected areas. This represents 8% of all 5.7 million hectares of freshwater wetlands in Queensland.

Of the freshwater wetland systems in protected areas, 304,231ha (68%) are palustrine wetlands, amounting to 10% of all palustrine wetlands. Lacustrine and riverine wetlands are not as highly represented, with only 8% and 4% respectively in protected areas.

The national park protected area type contains the majority (47%) of freshwater wetland systems in protected areas, with 207,534ha included. These are mostly palustrine wetlands (67%): riverine (18%) and lacustrine (14%) make up the rest in national parks.

About 5.2 million hectares of freshwater wetlands are not in protected areas. This breaks down as:

  • more than 2.6 million hectares of palustrine wetlands
  • 1.8 million hectares of riverine wetlands
  • 800,000ha of lacustrine systems.

In addition to the drainage divisions, the ‘other’ category represented in the data includes islands within Queensland waters as well as discrepancies in catchment coverages and coastline.

Bulloo

In the Bulloo drainage division, 116,427ha of freshwater wetlands are in protected areas. This equates to 43% of freshwater wetlands in the division and 2.1% across Queensland. Proportionally, it is the most protected drainage division in the state.

Freshwater wetlands are only represented in the nature refuges protected area type in Bulloo, with none in national parks or regional parks.

While there are more palustrine wetland systems contained in protected areas (more than 98,080ha, or 40%), the largest represented system is lacustrine wetlands, with up to 77% protected. The opposite can be said for riverine systems, with only 5% protected.

Gulf

In the Gulf drainage division, only 71,308ha—or 6%—of freshwater wetlands are within protected areas. This is most likely due to the reduced human pressures and the vast size of the area.

Of the freshwater wetlands in protected areas:

  • 46% are represented in nature refuges
  • 34% in national parks
  • 15% in national parks (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land)
  • 4% are in regional parks.

The wetland type with the largest area within protected areas in the Gulf is palustrine wetlands, accounting for more than 42,878ha (57%) of protected freshwater wetland. Palustrine wetlands are also the best represented in protected areas, at 9% of the total palustrine wetlands. Riverine and lacustrine wetlands are lower representation, at 4% and 3% respectively.

Lake Eyre

The Lake Eyre drainage division has the largest portion of freshwater wetlands in Queensland, more than 2.3 million hectares. Of this, only 75,718ha—3%—are within protected areas.

Proportionally, this is the least protected drainage division in the state for freshwater wetlands. This may be explained by the large expanse of unoccupied land and reduced human pressures.

Of the freshwater wetlands in protected areas, 73% (55,521ha) are contained within national parks, with most of remainder contained in nature refuges.

Lacustrine wetlands are the best represented in protected areas within Lake Eyre drainage division. However even with lacustrine wetlands, only 5% are within protected areas. Palustrine wetlands are even less represented with 2.5% within protected areas.

Murray Darling

There are 40,901ha of freshwater wetlands within protected areas in the Murray Darling drainage division. This amounts to 9% of the total 432,603ha of freshwater wetlands in the division and 0.7% across the state.

The majority (78%) of freshwater wetlands that are in protected areas are contained within national parks. The rest are mostly within nature refuges (19%).

Both lacustrine and palustrine wetlands are reasonably well represented in protected areas, at 14% and 11% respectively, however only 1% of riverine wetlands are contained within protected areas.

North East Coast (GBR)

The North East Coast (GBR) drainage division comprises almost the entire eastern Queensland coast, with the exception of the southeast. Given the variety of conflicting land uses in the North East coast (GBR) division, human-induced pressures on freshwater wetlands in this area is high.

There are 1.1 million hectares of freshwater wetlands in the GBR drainage division. Of this, 84,397ha—or just 7%—are within a protected area, amounting to 1.5% of the state’s freshwater wetlands.

Of the freshwater wetlands in protected areas in this division:

  • 51% are contained in national parks (42,840ha)
  • 13% are in nature refuges (10,550ha)
  • 30% are in national parks that are Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land (25,556ha).

The best represented freshwater wetland system in protected areas is palustrine wetlands, which includes 18% of the total palustrine wetlands in the drainage division. Conversely, only 1% of lacustrine wetlands are in protected areas in the North East Coast (GBR) division.

North East Coast (non-GBR)

The North East Coast (non-GBR) drainage division contains the entire southeast coast of Queensland. With the largest proportion of the population living here, there are significantly more human-induced pressures on freshwater wetlands in this area.

This drainage division has 131,293ha of freshwater wetlands of which 27,320ha—21%—are within a protected area. This amounts to 0.5% of the state’s freshwater wetlands.

More than 90% of protected freshwater wetlands in this division are located within a national park.

Palustrine wetlands are the most protected freshwater wetland type, with 24,447ha (42% of palustrine wetlands, 89% of all protected freshwater wetlands) included in a protected area. By contrast, only 2% of lacustrine wetlands in the division (549ha) are within a protected area.

Indicator: Proportion of freshwater wetland systems within protected areas

The proportion of freshwater wetlands that are within protected areas. Protected areas are those within the Nature Conservation Act 1992. Data is based on the latest Queensland Wetland Mapping (version 4, 2013) and the most current Protected Area mapping (2015).

Download data from Queensland Government data