WWF Urges Australian Government To Permanently Protect Greater Fitzroy Delta

According to a recently released report, there is a requirement to make sure the Greater Fitzroy Delta region is permanently protected so that it does not become the next place along the reef that ends up at risk from rapid and unchecked industrial development. WWF is deeply concerned about the threat to the Delta and is recommending immediate action to protect a national treasure.

Delta needs permanent protection

The report is titled “The Great Fitzroy Delta: A natural asset to protect into perpetuity” and was prepared by Mainstream Economics. The agency undertook an analysis of the ecosystem in order to determine the value of the region. The report makes a number of recommendations which it says should help increase its long term protection.

The Delta acts as reef’s guardian

The Greater Fitzroy Delta is located towards the end of the Fitzroy River and is very close to Rockhampton. The area the Delta covers is roughly 127,000 hectares, consisting of mangroves, waterways, islands and bays. Louise Matthiesson of WWF says the Delta acts as the Reef’s guardian and provides ecosystem services valued as much as $2.9 billion.

“The Delta’s massive system of mangroves and wetlands are relatively untouched, filtering vast volumes of water on its way to the Reef. It is home to unique species including the Snubfin Dolphin, Flatback Turtle and thousands of migratory birds,” Ms. Matthiesson said.

Until recently there was an immediate threat

Felicity Wishart AMCS Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director says that until very recently the Delta faced an immediate threat from a port expansion project which would have been the most damaging in Queensland history. Over the last couple of years the Fitzroy Delta and Keppel Bay community managed to hold off the plans to convert the Delta into a huge port that would export coal.

Nothing to stop future development plans

Ms. Wishart adds that whilst those plans have now been abandoned, there is still nothing to stop similar future developmental plans. This means there needs to be new and permanent measures for protection to ensure the Delta will never again be threatened by thoughtless industrial developments. The Australian and Queensland governments need to develop sound environmentally friendly policies.

Marine and national parks should be expanded

Ms. Matthiesson points out that what happened to Abbot Point and the Caley Valley demonstrate lucidly just how important it is to ensure that these ecologically important areas are protected permanently through an expansion of marine and national parks.

“The government needs to show it is serious about protecting the health of the Reef by expanding Queensland’s national parks and marine parks to guarantee the Delta’s long term protection. We believe that permanent protection for the Fitzroy is entirely compatible with ongoing recreational and commercial activities in the area.” Ms. Matthiesson said.


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