Comment: Wetlands and Climate Change Adaptation

Australia has a very mixed understanding and relationship with wetlands. I happen to be fortunate to live close to one. This came into existence just a couple of years ago when the local government transformed a disused and degraded parkland into a wetland attached to an old style concrete drain.

This wetland was part of a series of several wetlands installed into the inner northern suburbs of Canberra. Our hope is that one day the same local government will take on the challenge of enlarging the nearby wetlands to include much of the concrete drains through the inner northern suburbs. This would then be then be a linear park and wetland that would wind its way through several suburbs and increase the amount of green infrastructure. It would also be a wonderful walkway and increase the chances of locals getting out and walking.

Another not so amusing story involves an online video that used to be on the Australian Property Council website . In this presentation several notable members of the property council and the executive are on stage while the CEO runs through points on how the sector should get down to Canberra to access the’ rivers of gold’ within the then government’s programs. That is, he was encouraging these market driven property developers to do their best to snare as much public funds and subsidies as was possible.

However when it comes to describing the contemporary initiatives for wetlands, he referred to wetlands in a very derogative manner by calling them swamps with furniture.

Gauging by his negative tone and the laughter from the audience, I sense that this pompous sod, who speaks for the property industries in Australia, has no real appreciation of the value of natural swamps in our ecosystems, let alone any appreciation of the value of wetlands to our urban areas.

Of course it would have been too much to ask of this boof-head and his amused colleagues, that they should be appreciative of the well documented fact that such wetlands and swamps could be playing an important adaptation role in deal with climate change in rural and urban areas as well as along our precious coastlines.


Luckily there are far more intelligent people who do understand all this basic stuff and have been publishing articles on the importance of wetlands. There is a recent piece on coastal wetlands and how important a role they are about to play in dealing with the coming rise in seal levels.

The piece is online in The Conversation, and is titled How wetlands can help us adapt to rising seas – click here

We can only hope, given their close relation to the present Rabbott government, that the property council executives can actually read and are able to take on board these concepts before it is too late.


Paul Costigan, 5 April 2014

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