Move to protect Altona wetlands

Sandra Wilson and Wain Fimeri. Photo: Damjan Janevski 209672_05

Goya Dmytryshchak

Moves are underway to protect one of “the most important wetlands on earth” in Altona’s backyard.

The sandbar next to Doug Grant Reserve and Apex Park has extended the habitat area of Cheetham Wetlands, which is internationally recognised under the Ramsar environmental treaty and home to more than 200 bird species.

From this area, the short-tailed shearwater migrates each year to Siberia and Alaska – one of the longest migrations of any life form on earth.

Renowned Altona documentary maker Wain Fimeri spearheaded moves to protect the area by fencing it off from dogs and people.

“The wetlands at the western end of Altona’s Esplanade are UNESCO-listed, a part of larger Victorian wetlands that are among the most important wetlands on our earth,” he said.

“They are an incredible treasure, and they are right in our backyard.

“Many of us have had a think during the recent virus lockdown about that which is truly of real worth in this life.

“A wetlands teeming with some of the most exotic and beautiful birds on earth must surely rank among them.”

Hobsons Bay council has erected fencing to separate the wetlands from an adjoining off-lead dog park at Doug Grant Reserve.

Cr Sandra Wilson said she had campaigned long and hard to protect the “critically important” wetlands.

“The other key aspect is Birdlife Australia have designated it a key biodiversity area,” she said.

“Dog walkers have got so many options.

“Doug Grant Reserve is enormous, and we’ve made that wonderful access point down at PA Burns Reserve (aka Altona Dog Beach) with doggy wash areas and access to the sand so they’re not getting run over by bikes on the shared trail.”

She said kite surfers were being encouraged to rig on the foreshore closer to Ransom Reserve.