the conversation

Why are there no true freshwater protected areas in Australia?

Freshwater ecosystems such as rivers, lakes and wetlands are precious. They contain several-times more vertebrate species per unit area than land and ocean environments, and they are more degraded.

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?

Alien fish boom shows difficulty of replenishing Murray-Darling

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.

But research shows that, during the 2010-11 floods, measures taken to manage water levels and preserve local wildlife ended up helping alien species, such as the troublesome common carp.

A yabby is a crayfish but a cray is not a yabby: what’s in a name?

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.