I have a pair of beautiful red-rumped grass parrots. These small hookbills originate in Australia and are especially found in the Western Australian area known as the Murray-Darling economic. As a result, my pair is named Murray and Darling. They are young and didn’t mate successfully this past spring. I have high hopes for next year.
High hopes are also what the native populations of the Fitzroy River have. They are hoping that the local government and industries will learn from the devastation that has brought drought and decline to Murray-Darling. With that as a learning experience, the residents are hoping to avoid costly mistakes.
Around 20% of the water from the Murray-Darling River Basin has been diverted for use in other areas by the Hume Dam, the largest in Australia. If you think about having to reduce your water usage by 20%, you will have an idea of how devastating this is for the wildlife and people in the area. The farmers are unable to irrigate their crops, so they are leaving the area. In fact, unemployment, in general, is up in the basin.
Luckily, there is a lot of belief in Australia in returning the stewardship of the lands and waters to the original people of the area. The Nature Conservancy Australia is working to return the Murray-Darling basin to a much better condition. Page 14 of this report details their work.
In addition to this improvement, steps are being taken to prevent similar deprivation happening on the Fitzroy River. Learning from past mistakes is a sign of intelligence. Let’s hope will be in time to save the endangered species of the area.
Red-rumped grass parrots, Psephotus haematonotus, are fortunate in not being endangered. They are considered of least concern and the population is increasing. This is most likely due to their not being wetlands creatures. Reptiles, amphibians, and mammals in the area are at risk. Water is so important to life that it must not be used as a political or economical tool. And wetlands play a role so important that this planet needs them to stay healthy.
Humanature, a Conservation International Blog, lists 5 Things You Should Know About Wetlands. My favorite is the first one, that wetlands are the “kidneys” of the lands, extracting waste and cleaning it up a bit. Their ability to mitigate climate change does not surprise me, but sadly is overlooked by most people in authority. This is why there is a number 4 on the list, that wetlands continue to be drained and degraded. We’ve heard a lot about our chances of survival if we lose all the trees and green, growing things. Without our kidneys, we also will have to find a way to survive without water. No oxygen, no clean water, time to memorize Tank Girl and take appropriate steps.
As the blog’s last item states, you may find a way to help protect the wetlands through donations and staying on top of the developments. Even as simple a thing as not eating farmed shrimp from cleared mangrove areas can help. If they are as bad for you as farmed fish, especially tilapia, you would do well to avoid them.
In San Diego, my home, the Famosa Slough is one of the best-known wetlands that was turned around through community action and involvement. Like the late Chet Nelson, volunteers policed the area and improved wherever and whatever they could. Sadly, humans have also misused the place by allowing homeless camps and building apartments so close you can see them on the trail. Fingers crossed these situations are turned around soon.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.