Protected areas such as Alpine National Park and the Great Barrier Marine Park are a crucial tool for conserving wildlife on land and in the sea. But there is no similar protection for freshwater ecosystems in the world’s driest continent, Australia. Why not?
Wetlands and rivers need water – not least in the case of Australia’s biggest river system, the Murray-Darling Basin, which has been the target of an “environmental watering” plan designed to preserve its water levels and quality.
Everyone knows what a yabby is, don’t they? Well, you would be surprised. Those charming little critters with nippers in your local dam may belong to the species Cherax destructor, also known as the common yabby, but they may also be juvenile spiny crayfish (genus Euastacus), adult burrowing crayfish (genus Engaeus) or another species within the genus Cherax, including gilgies, marron and redclaw.
While the rivers of northern Australia and the Murray-Darling Basin are renowned for their iconic, large-sized, fish species such as Murray Cod and Barramundi, the temperate inland waterways of Tasmania are home to numerous “minnow-type” fishes.
Australia’s urban waterways are often polluted and sick. They suffer from a condition called the “urban stream syndrome”. A common factor that contributes is contamination from sewage.