Ecology at HWCA
Shortland Wetlands is jointly listed with Kooragang Nature Reserve as the Hunter Estuary Ramsar Wetland site. Shortland Wetlands meets 4 of the 8 characteristics, which place the Hunter Wetlands Centre Australia as an internationally significant wetlands.
In 2005, components of Shortland Wetlands were listed as an Endangered Ecological Community by the NSW Scientific Committee. This listing was given due our Freshwater Wetland on Coastal Floodplains.
The Hunter Wetlands Centre therefore offers visitors the experience of seeing threatened flora and fauna communities in their region and state on both Ramsar and Endangered Ecological Community listed sites.
Staff and volunteers at the Hunter Wetlands Centre manage Shortland Wetlands to protect and enhance its natural values. The site provides a range of important ecological processes that help maintain sustainability in Newcastle.
Wetlands are known as “hotspots” for biodiversity. The interface of aquatic and terrestrial habitats and variety of vegetation communities supporting a high diversity of wildlife.
Shortland Wetlands supports many species of birds, mammals, frogs, fish, and reptiles, despite being surrounded by an urban landscape with its associated impacts. For more information on specific animals, follow these links:
The Shortland Wetlands complex includes coastal freshwater lagoons and marshes and non-tidal freshwater forested wetlands. The site has benefited from a continuous management regime which has guided the creation of artificial wetlands and rehabilitation of degraded wetlands over 23 years. The Site Management Plan 2002 – 2009 combined with the Ecological Character Description of Shortland Wetlands Private Ramsar Site (2006) detail the management objectives of HWCA.
The successful rehabilitation work has supported the development of significant ecological values, some specific to the site and others which enhance values represented in the Hunter Estuary. Over 60,000 native plants have been planted on site, transforming the site from wasteland to world recognised habitat.
The wetlands also provide important habitat for a diverse range of animals throughout all seasons including water birds, frogs, invertebrates and fish. Water-loving plants include sedges, rushes and various tree species such as Swamp Mahogany. For a full list of flora and fauna see our Site Management Plan 2002- 2009.
The site is a receptor for stormwater and provides a natural processing system for this discharge. In this way, Shortland Wetlands acts like the kidneys of the landscape, filtering impurities in the water that would otherwise pollute our creeks, rivers and oceans. The wetlands act as settling ponds, reducing turbidity and sedimentation in the receiving waters of Ironbark Creek and the Hunter Estuary. They also mitigate peak stormwater flows, reducing the velocity of water within the site and maintaining ecological flows to the receiving waters.
As an ever evolving ecosystem Shortland Wetlands provides an educational experience for tens of thousands of visitors and students each year. As a community facility HWCA offers people a range of ways to immerse oneself in nature from strolls on the boardwalks, walks on the sensory trail (for the disabled and visually impaired), to golf buggies, canoes, kayaks, guided and self-guided tours to volunteering with one of the many onsite conservation teams including the:
- Thursday Mob Landcare Group
- Wetlands Wonder Weeders Landcare Group
- Shortland Wetlands Weed Attack Team
- Butcherbird Gully Landcare Group
- Green Reserve
- Work for the Dole
Over a period of twenty years the wetlands has transformed into a truly remarkable place to be and see nature in the wild.