Australia's future prosperity lies in the management and wise use of our water. The National Reserve System is an important tool in the national endeavour to protect the water resources of the driest continent on earth.
A vital part of Australia's water management involves protecting terrestrial and wetland vegetation. Increased plant cover helps hold moisture longer and slows down the drying of soils. The native vegetation cover of our protected areas also helps control water tables, preventing rising salinity from destroying the productivity of the land.
These reserves provide a shield against natural disasters such as floods and storm surges, protecting floodplain forests and woodlands, freshwater wetlands, mangroves and coastal wetlands.
Healthy ecosystems provide many benefits for water flow and quality. The vegetation in wetlands and rivers slows down the flow of water, giving particles of mud and pollution time to settle on the bottom. Without them cities and towns downstream would not get the same clean, clear water that they rely on.
Some of our most important water catchments, such as the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, are protected within the National Reserve System.
In the face of protracted droughts and long-term climate change, protected areas have a vital role to play in conserving our water resources. The protection of coastal environments and critical aquatic habitats is one of the six national priorities under Caring for Our Country.
- Case study: Conserving the mighty Murray
- Case study: Paroo Darling National Park
- Australia's water resources
- Water for the Environment
- Strategy for Australia's National Reserve System 2009-2030