Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve and Mulligans Flat Woodlands Sanctuary are two ACT reserves identified for an innovative and community-based approach to management and development. A Conservation Trust was established in 2011 by the then Minister for ACT Territory and Municipal Services (now responsibility rests with the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate) to raise financial support for the Reserves. A Board, the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust (WWT), was appointed to oversee and guide the management of the Reserves which both have sub-committees to guide and support the WWT and ACT Parks and Conservation Service, in managing and developing the areas.
A diverse and dynamic floodplain landscape and wetland resource, inspiring the community to enjoy and appreciate its natural and cultural values, and to participate actively in its care and management.
Achieving this vision will be a challenge. The Wetland’s iconic location and unique ecological attributes have been challenged by past land use and management practices. Enhancing the Reserve’s value as a wetland and waterbird habitat have long been treasured ideals but these are increasingly constrained by concern about the risk of aircraft bird strikes at the nearby Canberra Airport.
A rich Indigenous and European heritage exists for the Wetlands and efforts are currently underway to prepare a Short History of the Jerrabomberra Wetlands. The 2013 Resources and Values of Jerrabomberra Wetlands outlines the cultural heritage and values of the Reserve.
The new vision responds to these challenges at a number of levels:
- We accept a duty of care to minimise adverse impacts on neighbours, including a commitment to not exacerbate bird strike risk at the Canberra Airport;
- We are reshaping the nature of management of the area, founded on a more holistic and ecological approach, informed by evolving scientific understanding and robust and adaptive decision-making;
- We are taking a firm stance on further encroachment and degradation of the area. Safeguarding the ecology of the Reserve is considered paramount;
- We are exploring options to develop more diverse wetland, riparian and terrestrial habitat types within the floodplain landscape, and to redress unwise or ill-informed decisions of the past;
- We are presenting the Reserve in a new light: as a floodplain landscape, cultural landscape and novel ecosystem, with values arising from historical use and a novel mix of habitat elements;
- We recognise Ngunnawal people as the Traditional Custodians of the area, and their presence here for at least 25,000 years. We are exploring options to strengthen their continuing cultural and spiritual connections with Country through management practices, programs and facilities in the Reserve;
- We have built a new understanding and appreciation of the layers of European historical use of the evolving landscape over the past two hundred years;
- We are operating well beyond the traditional (and now highly constrained) focus on waterbirds, to encompass non-avian and terrestrial fauna, a broader and richer view of the area’s environmental and cultural history, continuing cultural and spiritual connection for Aboriginal people, and new interactions with the local arts community; and
- We are responding to changing urban communities by providing and facilitating a dynamic program of opportunities for community participation in actively caring for the area, and in collective building of cultural, historical and ecological knowledge and understanding. This is complemented by an approach to sustained resource development and management through new and innovative partner approaches across multiple sectors, harnessing diverse options for collaboration, contribution and financial investment.