Paroo River Wetlands

The Paroo River Wetlands, in far north-west New South Wales (NSW), is the last remaining free-flowing river in the Murray-Darling Basin. It consists of two main parts the Nocoleche Nature Reserve and the Peery component, which contains Lakes Peery and Poloko. Wetlands within the site include large overflow lakes, tree-lined creeks and waterholes, lignum and canegrass swamps, and artesian mound springs. The artesian mound springs at Peery Lake represent the largest active complex in New South Wales and one of the rarest landforms in Australia. The Paroo River is one of the most important wetland systems for waterbirds in eastern Australia with 55 species having been recorded, and it supports a number of threatened plant and animal species as well as significant native fish communities. Threatened species include the Salt Pipewort, Desert Carpet-weed, Aponogeton queenslandicus, and Spike Grass. Noteworthy flora and fauna include one of the largest stands of Yapunyah gums, a genetically distinct population of Golden Perch, Salt Pipewort, the Water Rat, and two new species of Fairy Shrimp. The Paroo country has significant meaning to the traditional indigenous owners, the Baakandji and Budjiti people, in terms of its archaeological, traditional and contemporary social values. Artefacts are found throughout the region, and Dreaming stories on the creation of the Paroo country are closely tied to indigenous custom and law. Contemporary use of the area is limited by the area’s remote location. Parts of the area have low-impact visitor facilities whilst other areas have restricted access.

Government evidence of impact of climate change:

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  • NSW Government Department of Environment Climate Change and Water, Paroo River Wetlands Ramsar Site, Ecological Character Description

    There are few clear local policies that monitor or provide a policy framework that restricts such developments even though the Paroo River Agreement commited the NSW and Queensland governments to protect the natural flow variability of the Paroo River. 5.2 Climate change Australia has experienced greater temperature anomalies; greater mean maximum temperatures; and lower rainfall since 2002 than previously (BOM 2007).
    It is thought that an enhanced greenhouse effect is increasing the severity of Australian droughts as higher temperatures are increasing evaporation rates (Nicholls 2004).
    Although understanding of how climate change could affect Australian arid areas is limited; future climate change is potentially a major threat to the Paroo River Wetlands Ramsar site.
    The consequences of climate change are similar to those of changed flooding patterns from reductions in flows; so are not repeated here.
    Climate change is listed under the EPBC Act and the TSC Act as a key threatening process.
    No threat abatement plan is currently available for climate change in Australia or NSW. 5.3 Introduced flora and fauna Introduced flora and fauna are significant threats to the Paroo River Wetlands Ramsar site and other wetlands in the Paroo River catchment.
    Criteria the nine criteria for the listing of a site as internationally significant under the provision of the Ramsar Convention (as recently amended at COP 9); namely a wetland 1 contains a representative; rare; or unique example of a natural or near natural wetland type found within the appropriate biogeographic region. 2 supports vulnerable; endangered or critically endangered species or threatened ecological communities. 3 . supports populations of plant and or animal species important for maintaining the biological diversity of a particular biogeographic region. 4 supports plant and or animal species at a critical stage of their life cycles; or provides refuge during adverse conditions. 5 regularly supports 20;000 or more waterbirds. 6 regularly supports 1 of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of waterbird. 7 . supports a significant proportion of indigenous fish subspecies; species or families; life history stages; species interactions and or populations that are representative of wetland benefits and or values and thereby contributes to global biological diversity. 8 . is an important source of food for fishes; spawning ground; nursery and or migration path on which fish stocks; within the wetland or elsewhere; depend. 9 . regularly supports more than 1 of the population of a non avian species of animal.
    Fire Impacts growth and breeding cycles of flora and survival of fauna.
    Threat abatement and recovery plans for the threatened mound springs community and the salt pipewort are also given high priority (NPWS 2000 DEC 2005). 5.4 Fire Fire represents a minor threat to the Paroo River Wetlands Ramsar site.
    The frequency of fire is low; and neither Nocoleche Nature Reserve nor Peery has experienced fire since their gazettal (NPWS 2000; 2009).
    There is generally insufficient fuel to sustain fires to the point where they become dangerous to life or property; or pose a risk to flora and fauna communities (NPWS 2009).
    Changes in water quality; including salinity and turbidity; and the release of nutrients that results from flooding and drying cycles determine the distribution and abundance of flora and fauna (Young and Kingsford 2006).