Hidetoshi (Mikey) Kudo | Cairns Area Coordinator
World Wetlands Day is the international day for celebrating the world’s wetlands and raising awareness of their important value for our environment and communities. The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (the Ramsar Convention) was signed on 02 February 1971, and Australia was one of the seven original countries that took a huge step forward to protect our wetland environments. I hope Australia continues to take such world leadership on the conservation of our wetlands. Now over 170 counties are registered under the Convention.
In Queensland, only five sites have been registered under the Ramsar Convention. There are none in Far North Queensland (from Mission Beach north) despite the rich nature of the Wet Tropics. But that should not stop us celebrating our local wetlands. In Cairns, we have the beautiful the Cattana Wetlands that were artificially created from an old sand quarry. They have been looked after by the Cairns Regional Council and many volunteers, including the Green Space Our Place (GSOP) Jabiru group. In recent years we have seen more birds nesting in the area.
Ambitiously, Geoff McClure (GSOP Jabiru volunteer) and I organised the Celebration on Saturday 04 February, 2023 in the middle of the wet season, with huge support from Cairns Birders. Needless to say, lots of mosquitoes were also excited about the celebration. This was the third Wetlands Day event since we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention in 2021.
There are several management challenges in Cattana Wetlands. Weed control is a big one. Geoff thinks that the control of Guinea Grass may help to reduce the spread of other troublesome weeds.
Another leader on this event, Denis Moeser, has installed several nest boxes around the Wetlands for Sugar Gliders and Striped Possums, as well as for microbats. Currently, he is preparing to install nest boxes for owl species. He has also installed some unique shelters for native insect species around the Wetland’s facilities.
Introduced Asian Honey Bees (AHBs) are another challenge at Cattana Wetlands, as they take over the nest boxes and drive out the Sugar Gliders. However, Denis also mentioned the good news that Striped Possums are successfully discouraging AHBs away from nest boxes.
We heard Fig-Parrot, Channel-billed Cuckoo and Spangled Drongo at the Wetlands carpark, and Comb-crested Jacanas were quite vocal at the lakes. We also heard Bush-hen on the way to Jacana Pool.
It was a great morning with like-minded people who are concerned about our environment. I would like to send a big thank you to all participants, and the leaders who guided participants through the Wetlands. I would also like to add that Cairns Regional Council has acknowledged this annual event, and I hope BirdLife can continue to receive everyone’s support to keep the Council aware of the value of the Wetlands and World Wetlands Day.