Short Virtual Presentation & Digital Poster 10th Australian Stream Management Conference 2021

Impact of urban development on endangered wetland ecological communities in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (#50)

Rani Carroll 1 , Jason K Reynolds 1 , Ian A Wright 1
  1. Western Sydney University, Penrith
  • The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area contains outstanding natural values. However, the recent conservation outlook for this region was downgraded from ‘good with some concerns’ to ‘significant concern’. Urban development, pollution and runoff were identified as a high threat. Temperate Highland Peat Swamps on Sandstone (THPSS) are an endangered ecological community, highlighted for their exceptional biodiversity values. Within the Blue Mountains, many THPSS occur at the urban-National Park interface and are at risk of degradation due to urban runoff modifying hydrology and water quality.
  • This work explored urban impacts within THPSS. We investigated water and sediment quality in degraded urban and naturally vegetated THPSS to determine key parameters for environmental monitoring.
  • Urbanisation poses threats to THPSS on the edge or outside the National Park boundary, leading to degraded water quality, erosion, modified hydrology and impaired biotic communities. These impacts pose numerous potential risks to vulnerable downstream ecosystems within the World Heritage Area.
  • These case studies of THPSS raise awareness of the importance of measuring and monitoring key parameters as part of an adaptive management approach that extends beyond National Park boundaries. This includes addressing regional and catchment-scale urban impacts such as stormwater and artificial impervious surfaces, ongoing monitoring, and stakeholder collaboration. Swamp rehabilitation projects have demonstrated the potential for reducing urban impacts, however further work is needed to minimise urban pressures facing THPSS. The Blue Mountains has internationally recognised conservation values, making it imperative to reduce further degradation and ensure it is conserved for future generations.
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