Freshwater wetland systems within protected areas
8.7% of ‘natural’ or ‘low modified’ freshwater wetlands in Queensland are within protected areas. The majority are palustrine systems and are within national parks.
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, listed under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, include:
- national parks
- national parks scientific
- national park Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land
- conservation parks
- resources reserve
- nature refuges.
Queensland has 468,241ha of freshwater wetlands within protected areas. This represents 8.7% of all 5.4 million hectares of ‘natural’ or ‘low-modified’ freshwater wetlands in Queensland.
Of these freshwater wetland systems in protected areas, 313,104ha (67%) are palustrine wetlands, amounting to 12% of all palustrine wetlands. Lacustrine and riverine wetlands are represented, with 14% and 5% respectively in protected areas.
The national park protected area type contains the majority (46%) of freshwater wetland systems in protected areas, with 213,781ha included. These are mostly palustrine wetlands (67%): riverine (19%) and lacustrine (14%) make up the rest in national parks.
About 4.9 million hectares of freshwater wetlands are not in protected areas. This breaks down as:
- 2.6 million hectares of palustrine wetlands
- 1.8 million hectares of riverine wetlands
- nearly 500,000ha 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.
In the Bulloo drainage division, 115,449ha of freshwater wetlands are in protected areas. This equates to 43% of freshwater wetlands in the division and 2.2% across Queensland. Proportionally, it is the most protected drainage division in the state.
Freshwater wetlands are only represented as nature refuges in Bulloo, with none in national parks.
While there are more palustrine wetland systems contained in protected areas (more than 96,989ha, or 36%), the most represented system is lacustrine wetlands, with 79% protected. The least represented wetlands are riverine systems, with almost 5% protected.
In the Gulf drainage division, only 80,615ha—or 6%—of freshwater wetlands are within protected areas.
Of the freshwater wetlands in protected areas:
- 49% are represented in nature refuges
- 34% in national parks
- 13% in national parks (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land)
- 0.2% are in conservation parks
- 4% are in resources reserves.
The wetland type with the largest area within protected areas in the Gulf is palustrine wetlands, accounting for 46,447ha (58%) of protected freshwater wetland. Palustrine wetlands are also the best represented in protected areas (9%). Riverine and lacustrine wetlands are less represented, at 4% and 7% respectively.
The Lake Eyre drainage division has the largest area of freshwater wetlands in Queensland, comprising almost 2.4 million hectares. Of this, only 76,439ha (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, 72% (55,246ha) is 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 with 5% in protected areas. Palustrine and riverine wetlands are even less represented within protected areas (2.5% and 4% respectively).
There are 41,367ha of freshwater wetlands within protected areas in the Murray Darling drainage division. This amounts to 12% of the total 340,799ha of freshwater wetlands in the division.
The majority (79%) of freshwater wetlands that are in protected areas are contained within national parks. The rest are mostly within nature refuges (20%).
Both lacustrine and palustrine wetlands are reasonably well represented in protected areas, at 40% and 12% respectively. Just over 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, apart from 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 970,000ha of freshwater wetlands in the GBR drainage division. Of this, 98,376ha (10%) are within a protected area.
Of the freshwater wetlands in protected areas in this division:
- 46% are contained in national parks (45,585ha)
- 14% are in nature refuges (13,821ha)
- 34% are in national parks that are Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land (33,426ha).
The best represented freshwater wetland system in protected areas is palustrine wetlands, making up 21% of the total palustrine wetlands in the drainage division. Protected lacustrine and riverine wetlands are less represented (20% and 5% respectively).
North East Coast (non-GBR)
The North East Coast (non-GBR) drainage division contains the entire southeast coast of Queensland. Given the largest proportion of Queensland’s population live here, freshwater wetlands in this area face significantly more human-induced pressures.
This drainage division has 100,025ha of freshwater wetlands of which 27,417ha (27%) are within a protected area.
More than 91% of protected freshwater wetlands in this division are located within a national park.
Palustrine wetlands are the most protected freshwater wetland type, with 24,764ha (43%) in a protected area. Lacustrine and riverine wetlands are less represented with 19% and 6% protected respectively.
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 (2017).
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