Piccaninnie Ponds - video

Department Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities - January 2012

The 862 hectare Piccaninnie Ponds Karst Wetlands are an outstanding example of globally rare fen and karst wetland types, and have a range of cultural and conservation values, which is why it has become the 65th site in Australia's Ramsar Estate.

Transcript

Voice Over

The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat was signed in Ramsar Iran on 2 February 1971.

Commonly known as the Ramsar Convention, it aims to halt and where possible, reverse the worldwide loss of wetlands and to conserve those that remain through wise use and management.

Cobourg Peninsula in the Northern Territory was the world's first site to be listed under the Ramsar Convention.

Piccaninnie Ponds is part of the traditional lands of the Bunganditj people. (Bo–an–dik)

Steve Clarke, Wetland Conservation Ecologist, SA Government

Karst rising spring systems are quite rare in South Australia, in fact, they're very rare in South Australia; in fact, they're very rare in Australia.

A karst wetland is a wetland system where water rises from limestone that is beneath the surface. Water comes out of the ground in two or three very large springs, some of those springs go as deep as 110 metres into the karst lime system.

Water comes out of those springs and then floods the landscape so the water is in permanent supply all year round.

The visibility within Piccaninnie Ponds system is extremely clear. The karst rising spring water has been filtered through limestone for many, many kilometres.

Visitors come to Picanninie Ponds for a variety of reasons.

"Some people come just to see the amazing plant associations and the landscape,

"Other people come here to look at the birdlife and the animal life and certainly the unique plant life that occurs here"

"Other people come from around the world to actually dive within the ponds. The diving here is really quite unique.

The Piccaninnie Ponds system has a depth of anywhere up to 110 metres, so that in itself makes it a very interesting fresh water dive.

The Piccaninnie Ponds system has a lot of fish within it.

There's probably about six or seven different species within the system. A lot of the fish are quite unique in that they have half their life cycle in the sea and the half in the freshwater systems.

[Music]

Birdlife at Picanninie Ponds often more than not revolves around the water. The water within the Picanninie Ponds system remains here for most of the year which is quite unique in the lower south east.

As other parts of the south east start drying up the water within the ponds still remains and so then attracts all the birdlife, a lot of the birdlife, including a whole myriad of waders, ducks, swans, egrets, even brolga visit Picanninie Ponds.

The wetland is host to over 50 threatened species rated at a national and state level.

The species are, some of them are internationally rated. One particular species is a bird – the Australasian Bittern.

Other birds we have that are threatened are the OBP which is the Orange Bellied Parrot which is a migratory parrot.

Before Picanninie was a conservation park it was predominantly grazing land.

The Pick Swamp system which is now joined onto the Picanninie Pond Conservation Park has been within part of the park area since 2005.

At that time the land was purchased by the South Australian Government and then restoration work started directly after that.

Before we started conservation work on the Picanninie system the wetland had a lower water level through here.

To restore the system so far we've incorporated a regulator – which is a water limiting device into the Pick Swamp addition.

This regulator holds water back on the land and allows water still to drain out to sea.

Restoration works within Picanninie have mainly focussed on containing water and keeping water onto the land.

The far western side of Picanninie we've built a levy and also a weir and a fish passageway.

Fish passageway is very important so that we have that connectivity between the sea and the freshwater systems for migratory fish.

We've also put another weir and fish passageway within the central part of the Picanninie system which does much of the same thing.

The Ramsar listing of Picanninie Ponds means that the Ponds can get the recognition internationally which they deserve.

Voice Over

As a contracting party to the Ramsar Convention, Australia is encouraged to designate sites for inclusion in the Ramsar List that contain representative, rare or unique wetlands, or wetlands or that are important for conserving biological diversity.

The 862 hectare Piccaninnie Ponds Karst Wetlands are an outstanding example of globally rare fen and karst wetland types, and have a range of cultural and conservation values, which is why it has become the 65th site in Australia's Ramsar Estate.