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How you can help save the world’s most threatened ecosystem

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They are disappearing three times faster than forests, making them the most threatened ecosystem on Earth.

In fact, since 1970 more than 35% of the world’s wetlands have been lost, home to roughly 40% of the world’s species that live and breed in the idyllic water-based areas.

On Wednesday 2 February, the Hunter Wetlands Centre is urging the community to help them mark World Wetlands Day by donating, visiting or becoming a member to help save a threatened Shortland ecosystem.

“Today we face a great challenge,” says Hunter Wetlands spokesperson Val Noake.

“Without regular funding from any level of government the Centre’s sustainability is threatened.

“With an incredible 36-year history of regeneration and community building, volunteers have lovingly turned degraded playing fields into an internationally-significant wetlands teeming with wildlife and preserving our ecosystem’s balance.

“You can be involved today and help us continue this wonderful journey.”

Wetlands, or swamps, marshes and other water-saturated lands, are known as the ‘kidneys of the landscape’ because, like human kidneys, they have the ability to clean the water that flows through them, mitigate large flood events and recharge underground aquifers.

Because they can store up to ten times as much carbon as the same area of land-based forest, they are a major driver of climate change. 

The Shortland-based wildlife sanctuary is a Ramsar recognised wetland – a wetland of international significance, named after the small Iranian town in which the convention on Wetlands took place in 1971.

The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance holds the unique distinction of being the first modern treaty between nations aimed at conserving natural resources. 

Boasting 45 hectares of land, the Hunter Wetlands Centre is home to more than 250 species, including birds, ducks, tortoises and frogs.

It is run entirely by volunteers.

“Visit on World Wetlands Day, Wednesday 2 February, and enjoy a free guided walk or find out why we are a wetlands of international significance,” Ms Noake said.

“No bookings are required and there are free buggies for people with a disability.”

The Hunter Wetlands Centre is a community-owned, not for profit organisation run by volunteers.

It offers numerous activities including dipnetting, feeding sessions, bird hides, walking trails, canoeing, a bush tucker garden, cafe and play equipment.

For more information, or to book, call 4951 6466.

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