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At 26 ha in size, the Warriewood Wetland is the largest remaining sand plain wetland in the northern Sydney area. It provides a variety of habitats for local fauna and at the same time plays a vital role in flood mitigation, nutrient recycling and filtering sediments. The wetlands contain several Endangered Ecological Communtities.
Bush regeneration and aquatic weed control have been a focus since Council took control of the wetlands and a dedicated volunteer bushcare group also contributes to its management. An elevated boardwalk has given access to previously inaccessable areas of the wetlands and has increased the wetlands' popularity amongst walkers and birdwatchers.
The Warriewood Wetlands are within the Guringai Homelands. Wetlands are important sites due to their resource abundance - both food and materials. Plus they are a permanent source of fresh water. Wetlands often have spiritual significance to Aborigines and are included in stories. Indications of the use of this area by Aboriginal People are present in the area surrounding the wetland and include Scar-trees. The wetland is largest remaining sandplain wetland in Sydney and still contains an incredible amount of natrual heritage.
Agricultural activities were an impact on the wetlands from the mid 1800's, and lead to significant problems including poor water quality, weeds and feral animals.
In the 1960's and 70's, clearing to create windrows, construction of drainage lines and a rising main throught the wetlands all had an impact, prompting the community to become involved in the worldwide push for better wetland conservation.
In the late 1970's, the then Wran Government agreed to let developers build a shopping centre on part of the site on the condition that Warringah Council would purchase the remainder of the site for retention as a natural area. Dispute over what constituted a fair price for the area continued until 1996, when, following an 18 year long battle by conservationists, the matter was resolved in an out of court settlement which resulted in the purchase of the land by Pittwater Council for $4.5 million.
The resolution of the issue means that this environmentally sensitive and regionally significant wetlands area is now secured and conserved for the residents of Pittwater and for the benefit of future generations.
Plants and animals
The vegetation represented in the wetland area is quite diverse and includes areas of Swamp Sclerophyll Forest, Freshwater Wetlands and Swamp Oak Floodplain Forest, all listed as endangered ecological communities in NSW.
These vegetation communities range from large stands of Eucalyptus robusta (Swamp Mahogany), to scrub dominated by Melaleuca ericifolia (Swamp Paperbark), reedlands dominated by Phragmites australis (Native Reed) and several other herbaceous and graminoid associations adjacent to the main water bodies.
The entire wetlands are important habitat for many bird and animal species. Over 80 bird species have been recorded including the endangered Regent Honeyeater, the threatened Goshawk and Powerful Owl, and several migratory birds covered by international treaties between the governments of Australia, Japan and China. The wetlands are well known by Sydney's birdwatching community, particularly in autumn when the Swamp mahogany are in flower.
Several frog and reptile species have been recorded, making the wetland one of the last refuges in the area for this type of fauna.
Prior to the construction of the boardwalk there was no safe access for the public in the wetlands. The walkway network with stretches 2.4km begun in 1999 with the first section of boardwalk being put in place followed by further sections in 2002. Developers contributed to the construction of the final section of boardwalk which was opened in April 2006.
This boardwalk provides an excellent opportunity for the public to enjoy the natural attributes of the wetlands and gives bird watchers greater access to enjoy their passion. It must be remembered that bikes and dog are prohibited from the boardwalk, dogs are prohibited due to the sensitive environment and bikes because of the narrow nature of the walkways.