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Exploring our exciting world of wetlands

WORLD Wetlands Day is coming to the Southern Beaches.

Following on from a successful event in Lauderdale in 2018, the annual event will be held on Saturday 2 February at the Dodges Ferry Primary School hall.

Supported by Clarence and Sorell councils and Bendigo Bank, World Wetlands Day is an opportunity to learn more about the local wetlands and appreciate what we have, right on our doorstep.

Janet Smith, from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Waste and Environment, said she was first motivated to get involved in the Tasmanian World Wetlands Day organising committee in 2013.

“The first southern World Wetlands Day was held in the Botanical Gardens,” she said.

“A group of us came together with the idea of celebrating the incredibly important and special wetlands that we have here.

“Tasmania is home to a diverse range of wetland habitats – from rare sphagnum bogs in our highlands region, to coastal marshes, like those found in the Southern Beaches area.”

Event coordinator Sharon Kent said she was keen to showcase local wetlands and build on the success of last year’s event.

“We had 500 people come last February and this year we have expanded the program,” she said.

“Ultimately, we want to give people a range of experiences, as well as provide a fun day out that’s family-friendly and free.”

At the main site of the Dodges Ferry School hall, there will be an emphasis on both science and art with information and displays, stalls, children’s activities and a program of short talks by experts and artists.

Art activities will include weaving wetland water beasties, drawing and screen-printing calico tote bags.

For science buffs, there will be frogs and water bugs to identify, information stalls and, with two discovery rangers from Parks and Wildlife, plenty of interesting and fun activities on offer.

While the school hall will act as the main hub of the event, activities will not be confined to the indoors, with expert-led tours of the local saltmarshes and bird watching also on the agenda.

In keeping with this year’s World Wetlands Day theme of climate change, Jamie Kirkpatrick from the University of Tasmania will be leading a walk along the Okines Beach foreshore.

At the other end of the spectrum, youth facilitator Toby Thorpe, recently returned from the COP24 Climate Change Conference in Poland, will be on the speaker’s program.

Tasmanian Aboriginal culture will also play an integral part on the day with indigenous led Aboriginal culture and history tours, activities, art and music, and a ‘Welcome to Country’ address with local elder Aunty Colleen Mundy.

The World Wetlands Day main event will run from 10am to 3pm.

For those who would like to explore wetlands in the Clarence area, there will also be an event taking place on the Eastern Shore on Sunday 3 February.

Experts from Clarence City Council and the Derwent Estuary Program will lead a guided walk of the Lauderdale Saltmarshes, where attendees can learn about the history and various research projects being undertaken in the area, as well as identify the plants and birds that live there.

This tour will depart from the corner of North Terrace and South Arm Highway on Sunday 3 February at 2.30pm.

Details of both events can be found at www.facebook.com/sbcoastcare.

Caption: Locals enjoy a tour of the Carlton River saltmarshes.