Estuarine wetlands within protected areas
Areas of managed protection covering estuarine wetlands in Queensland often overlap. Of Queensland’s estuarine wetlands, 39% are within an area of managed protection. Fish habitat areas protect 28%, highly protected marine park zones cover a 12% and protected areas a further 5%.
Estuarine wetlands are important ecosystems. They provide nurseries for many commercial fish species’ young and act as a protective buffer for the coastline from storm surges and cyclones.
Estuarine wetlands are contained within areas of managed protection. Managed protection includes:
- protected areas under the Nature Conservation Act 1992—national parks, national parks (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land), regional parks and nature refuges
- highly protected marine park zones under the Marine Parks Act 2004—marine national park, marine preservation, conservation, scientific research and buffer zones
- fish habitat areas declared under the Fisheries Act 1994.
Some estuarine wetlands are afforded higher protection due to the overlap of these areas of managed protection.
There are 2.67 million hectares of estuarine wetlands along the Queensland coast.
- 1 million hectares are in managed protection (39%).
- 135,356ha are in protected areas (5%). Nearly 53% of these are in national parks.
- 309,880ha (12%) are within highly protected marine zones of Queensland marine parks, most of which is marine national park zone.
Declared fish habitat areas offer the greatest extent of protection for estuarine wetlands, with 742,807ha (28%) covered. This makes up 73% of the total of protected estuarine wetlands.
In addition to the drainage divisions, the ‘other’ category in the data includes islands within Queensland waters, as well as discrepancies in catchment coverages and coastline.
The Gulf drainage division has more than 666,000ha of estuarine wetlands of which 57,649ha (9%) are within areas of managed protection.
Just 3% (21,188ha) of estuarine wetlands in the Gulf are in protected areas. Almost half (45%) of these are in nature refuges, with others in national parks and conservation parks.
As there are no marine parks in the Gulf no estuarine wetlands are covered in highly protected marine park zones.
More than 37,000ha of estuarine wetlands are in declared fish habitat areas, representing 6% of the division’s total estuarine wetlands.
North East Coast (GBR)
The North East Coast (GBR) drainage division comprises almost the entire eastern Queensland coast, apart from the southeast. Given the variety of conflicting land uses in this division, estuarine wetlands are under significant human-induced pressures.
Of the 455,082ha of estuarine wetlands in the North East Coast (GBR) drainage division, 64% (291,779ha) are covered in an area of managed protection.
One-fifth of the division’s estuarine wetlands (91,056ha) are within protected areas.
- National parks (including Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land national park) account for 89% of this protection.
- Conservation parks make up nearly 9%.
- Nature refuges include nearly 3%.
- Resources reserves make up less than 1%.
Only 4,686ha of estuarine wetlands are within highly protected marine park zones in the North East Coast GBR drainage division.
- 57% (2,690ha) are in conservation park zones
- 43% (1,990ha) are in marine national park zones.
Declared fish habitat areas cover a large portion of estuarine wetlands in areas of managed protection, representing 196,794ha or 43% of all estuarine wetlands 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. Given that the largest proportion of Queenslanders live within this area, freshwater wetlands face significantly more human-induced pressures.
Of the 39,750ha of estuarine wetlands, 23,162ha (58%) are within managed protection.
- Declared fish habitat areas offer most of the protection, covering 18,605ha. This is 80% of protected estuarine wetlands and 47% of all estuarine wetlands in the non-GBR division.
- 4,132ha (10%) of estuarine wetlands are within Highly Protected Marine Park zoning, with the majority in conservation park zones.
- 8% (2,676ha) of all estuarine wetlands in the non-GBR division are in a protected area.
The proportion of estuarine wetlands that are within areas of managed protection. For State of Environment purposes, managed protection include: Protected Areas under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, Areas of Fish Habitat under the Fisheries Act 2008, and State Marine Parks (Highly Protected Zones) under the Marine Parks Act 2004. Data is based on the latest Queensland Wetland Mapping (version 4, 2013) and the most current Protected Area, Fish Habitat and Marine Parks mapping (2017).
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