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Wetlands are areas that are permanently, seasonally or intermittently waterlogged or inundated with water that may be fresh, saline, flowing or static.
Wetlands and waterways are a fundamental part of the natural environment that have been forming in the Western Australian landscape over millions of years. They support an abundance of wildlife, providing habitat, refuge, breeding grounds and food sources for animals. Australia has among the highest wetland diversity in the world and a large number of the world’s internationally recognised wetlands.
Wetlands have been mapped in many areas of the south west of Western Australia and in specific areas elsewhere in the state. Mapping layers vary in the amount of information on wetland boundaries, classification and known values. The most complete mapping exists for the Swan Coastal Plain titled the 'Geomorphic Wetlands Swan Coastal Plain' dataset. This mapping displays the location, boundary, geomorphic classification (wetland type) and management category of wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain, between Wedge Island and Dunsborough. Wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain have been classified into types using a wetland classification system based on the characteristics of landform and water permanence eg. lake, sumpland, dampland, and palusplain. The Swan Coastal Plain wetlands have also been evaluated and assigned an appropriate management category, providing guidance on the nature of the management and protection the wetland should be afforded i.e. Conservation, Resource Enhancement, or Multiple Use category. Wetlands are subject to setback distances (buffers) for development and a minimum of 100 meters should apply to wetlands with a management category of 'conservation'.
Wetlands are protected by provisions under the Environmental Protection Act 1986. The Act prohibits pollution of, and environmental harm to, wetlands and waterways in Western Australia. The Act also prohibits clearing of native vegetation, unless a Clearing Permit is granted by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) or the clearing is for an exempt purpose. Exemptions are made for low impact activities involving clearing if done in accordance with the Environmental Protection (Clearing of Native Vegetation) Regulations 2004. People who wish to clear native vegetation are required to obtain a permit if an exemption does not apply. It should be noted that certain wetlands are defined as environmentally sensitive areas. Exemptions do not apply in these wetlands.
Wetland mapping can be viewed at www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/management/wetlands.
For information on the mapping and management of wetlands, contact our office on (08) 9334 0455 or see www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/management/wetlands.
For more information on how wetlands are protected contact the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation's (DWER) office on (08) 6467 5000 or see www.der.wa.gov.au/your-environment/environmentally-sensitive-areas.