Member for Isaacs

Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands - Mark Dreyfus QC MP

12 January 2015

I would like to speak today about the Edithvale-Seaford wetlands, a large part of which are in my electorate of Isaacs, as well as the work of the Friends of Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands, a dedicated community group. The wetlands are listed under the Ramsar convention as being of international significance.

The two sites which make up the wetlands are the last remnants of a formerly extensive wetland, the Carrum Carrum swamp. During the 19th century, this swamp was largely drained for agricultural activities. Over the last 30 years, there has been extensive rehabilitation and active management by Melbourne Water. There have been massive changes to the local landscape since European settlement so that the wetlands are now surrounded by suburban development, which makes the preservation of these wetlands particularly important.

The Edithvale-Seaford wetlands support a very rich biodiversity. Of particular note is the importance of the area as a site for migratory birds, including some 25 species listed on the Japan-Australia and China-Australia migratory bird agreements. In particular, it supports more than one per cent of the flyway population of the sharp-tailed sandpiper. The area also supports significant populations of the Australasian bittern, a species listed as endangered by the Victorian government. It is also an area of noteworthy flora, with 41 plant taxa of regional significance having been recorded in these wetlands.

Finally, the wetlands are of social and cultural significance, especially as an example of the benefits of active management to the preservation of the wetlands. The wetlands are important as a centre for nature based recreation within the local community and the region as a whole. On any weekend, one can see many local residents enjoying these wetland environments.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Friends of Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands for their work in protecting the environment of this area. Their endeavours are of great importance to the local environment and to the local community generally. This group has worked for the last 30 years to protect the wetlands and, as Jenny Lindell, the member for Carrum in the state parliament put it recently, to maintain a vigilant watch over this area.

Recently, the group has had difficulties in recruiting members to serve on the executive committee to help run the organisation. I know that many community organisations face the problem not so much of getting volunteers but of getting an executive committee to do the management. The friends put out a call to the community and I am told that they received a good response. I hope, as do many members of our community, that they will continue their important work in the years ahead.