Moving from confusion to cohesion: An analysis of the legislative framework of wetland conservation in Western Australia
School of Business and Law
This article considers environmental legislation in relation to wetlands. The focus on wetlands is useful because there are so many components to these ecosystems – such as their geomorphology, their hydrology and hydrogeology, their botany, the soil science, and the habitats they provide for fauna. For each aspect of a wetland, there is a different statute driven by different policy considerations that regulates or impacts on that aspect. A focus on avifauna, for instance, results in different emphases to those where there is a focus on flora. Because there are so many components to wetlands, they provide a unique window into the fractured world of Western Australian environmental statutes, where the definitions vary subtly in some Acts, and significantly in others. There is clear scope for statutory reform to align wetland definitions. This article submits that the global “geomorphic-hydrologic” classification systems of inland and coastal wetlands provide the most cogent and cohesive basis for reform. This classification adequately forms a template for wetland research and management for hydrology, hydrogeology, hydrochemistry, soils and sediments, vegetation and fauna.