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The wonder of wetlands

THE wonder of all things wetland will be in the spotlight early next month when World Wetlands Day returns for another year.

Supported by Clarence City Council, the event will be held in Lauderdale on Sunday 2 February.

The Lauderdale event will form part of an international movement to raise awareness about the value and benefits of wetland environments.

And this was exactly the motivation for Janet Smith, from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, who has been involved in the Tasmanian World Wetlands Day organising committee since 2013.

“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 Lauderdale area,” Ms Smith said.

“World Wetlands Day is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about our local wetlands and appreciate what we have, right on our doorstep.”

This year’s theme is ‘biodiversity’ and event coordinator Sharon Kent said the organising committee was keen to both showcase and celebrate local wetlands on the day.

“This year we have expanded the program to include talks from scientists, experts and artists, plus we have a large variety of stalls offering everything from advice for growing native plants to wetland-themed face painting,” 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 Lauderdale Primary School hall, there will be information stalls and displays, children’s activities and “fast and funky” science talks.

Art activities include ‘crazy critter’ puppet making, drawing and screen-printing wetland-themed designs onto calico tote bags.

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

Aboriginal elder Aunty Colleen Mundy and Aunty Cheryl Mundy will provide a Welcome to Country and a live music program, with musicians fresh from the Cygnet Folk Festival creating a festival atmosphere.

A free barbecue, plus food and coffee vans, will also be available on site.

While the school hall is the hub of the event, activities are not confined to the indoors, with expert-led tours of the local saltmarshes and bird watching on the agenda.

Dr Eric Woehler, bird conservationist and convenor of Birdlife Tasmania, will be providing telescopes on the Lauderdale foreshore to spot resident and migratory shorebirds.

Dr Vishnu Prahalad, a saltmarsh expert from UTAS and author of ‘Guide to the Plants of Tasmanian Saltmarsh Wetlands’, will be exploring the Dorans Road Saltmarshes.

In addition, Clarence City Council natural resource planning officer Phil Watson will be leading a tour of the local saltmarshes and the Old Lauderdale Tip to discuss the proposed Lauderdale Reserves Activity Plan (RAP).

This is a great opportunity for local Lauderdale residents to learn about the recommendations of the RAP and provide valuable feedback to Council.

The World Wetlands Day main event runs from 10am to 3.30pm, with expert-led tours beginning at 9am.

Details of the event can be found at www.landcaretas.org.au and check in at www.facebook.com/landcaretasmania for regular updates.

Caption: World Wetlands Day will be returning to Lauderdale on Sunday 2 February.