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Tootgarook Swamp needs you to help it achieve RAMSAR status

Have you spent a lot of time on the Mornington Peninsula, but never heard of Tootgarook Swamp or its values? If your answer is yes, well you aren't the only ones. We were in that position a few months ago too and here is what we've learned since then.

Have you spent a lot of time on the Mornington Peninsula, but never heard of Tootgarook Swamp or its values? If your answer is yes, well you aren't the only ones. We were in that position a few months ago too and here is what we've learned since then.

Once a major landmark, diminished by peat mining

· Tootgarook Swamp was once the largest landmark on the southern end of the peninsula stretching almost the whole length between the bay and the ocean.
· The area used to be home to hundreds of species of native fauna including Southern Brown Bandicoot(endangered), Eastern Quoll(extinct on mainland), Long-nosed Potoroo (endangered), Australian Bustard(critically endangered) to name just a few.

Unfortunately it was also valuable for its special Peat soil which was extracted and used as fertilizer on nearby farms and experimented with in hopes of producing electricity and gas from it. Dredging allowed enrichment for this fertiliser process and also gave opportunity for grazing land, and residential housing developments to occur on the Swamp and human interference caused a lot of changes and damage to the natural environment as well as increased flooding which is still being addressed currently.

Still home to 115 species of birds and other animals whose habitats are endangered everywhere

So maybe now you're thinking, why should try to save it now? We also asked that and after much research we found many reasons which we've listed below.

· Because it is still home to over 115 different bird species, some of which are endangered or threatened. Many are migratory and travel thousands of kilometres to the area to use breeding site and produce new generations of birds.
· The Swamp contains many indigenous flora species which no longer readily occur on the peninsula. Endangered Communities of indigenous vegetation still grow in the area.
· It also houses many species of native mammals, reptiles, fish and insects. Some of these are also endangered or no longer plentiful on the Mornington Peninsula.
· It is all that's left of an important part of the history of the Mornington Peninsula.
· Because it's a floodplain and the Swamp helps to control the flooding by acting as a retarding basin and sponge, by holding, storing and soaking up excess water.
· Water is important for everyone. Wetlands keep our waterways healthy by filtering, cleaning water as it flows through. Wetlands filter suspended solids, nutrients, heavy metals, organic matter (which may break down here too) and even oil. They treat stormwater naturally before releasing it back into our waterways and ground water. This ground water is used for irrigation on farms and keeps our soil healthy so we can grow trees and crops as well as many residential bores.
· Peat wetlands globally have been identified as a major storehouse of the world's carbon, exceeding that of forests. They actively accumulate organic matter into carbon sinks. Both aspects are worthy of attention by the UNFCCC.
· Peat wetlands have a wide international significance and their wise use is relevant to the implementation of the RAMSAR Convention, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and other international instruments and agreements.
· Peat wetlands play a special role in conserving global biodiversity because they are the refuge of some of the rarest and most unusual species of wetland-dependent flora and fauna.
· Peat wetlands have been recognized by the RAMSAR Convention as a particularly threatened wetland type.
· Peat wetlands are the predominant wetland type for cultural heritage, notably through their capacity to preserve archaeological remains and the palaeobiological record under waterlogged and deoxygenated conditions.
· It is mostly in the hands of private landholders. If we do not give voice to a voiceless environment nothing will stop it from being destroyed to make way for more development on the Mornington Peninsula
· It is important as a habitat for animals at a vulnerable stage in their life cycles and provides a refuge when adverse conditions such as drought prevail.
· As a signatory to the RAMSAR Convention, Australia has an obligation to promote the conservation of Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR listed wetlands) and the wise use of all wetlands.
· Although wetlands cover only about 3% of the Earth's surface, they are vital to our environment.
· Wetlands constitute a resource of great economic, scientific, cultural, and recreational value for the community.
· Environmental degradation is more prominent within wetland systems than any other ecosystem on earth. By 1993 half the world's wetlands had been drained.

Tootgarook Swamp needs RAMSAR status

So with all these reasons now we need to ask How do we save Tootgarook Swamp? (see www.SPIFFA.org/ for more in-depth information or view photos at Facebook-Friends of Sanctuary Park.)
One important way we have identified is through the RAMSAR convention. What is this?

The Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”. At the centre of the Ramsar philosophy is the “wise use” concept. The wise use of wetlands is defined as “the maintenance of their ecological character, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the context of sustainable development”. “Wise use” therefore has at its heart the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and their resources, for the benefit of humankind.

To become a Ramsar site the Tootgarook Swamp must go through a nomination process to assess whether it meets the criteria necessary to become an internationally recognized site. We are currently encouraging the Mornington Peninsula Shire and Government Agencies to begin this nomination process but we need your support.

To support a Ramsar nomination for the Tootgarook Swamp we encourage you to pass this information to as many people as possible.
If you support this Nomination we ask that you email Send Email to Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor Graham Pittock along with your name and address stating that you support this nomination.

Comments

Dear Supporters,

Things might've seemed quiet down in the swamp lately but things are moving a pace.

Just this week the Shire has unanimously agreed to a planning scheme review this begins the process of rezoning of sections of Tootgarook Swamp and the implemention of stronger planning policies and overlays to provide the much needed protection which the Tootgarook Swamp has long waited for.

This decision represents the beginning of completion of one of our key objectives, namely to have the Tootgarook Swamp rezoned to something more suitable for protecting an environment as fragile and at risk as this wetland is.

We thank all our supporters out there for helping us get to this point, the community have played a huge role in convincing the higher authorities that this is worth preserving now and into the future, through mointoring, gathering information and advocacy.

Their is much work ahead for the Shire, as they work on drawing up, consulting and finally implementing their planning changes, and ourselves also as we work alongside the Shire in the planning review process, offering suggestions and supplying data and information to help guide their decisions.

We look forward to sharing the progress of the planning process over the coming months.

Though there are still many challenges ahead for the Tootgarook Swamp things are really starting to come together and we are confident that Tootgarook Swamp, with the help of supporters like yourself and the relevant government bodies, can meet any of these challenges head on and come out on top.

Thanks for following our progress and keep watching because great things are happening thanks to you.

Kindly,

Jessica