World's largest wetland study underway

World's largest wetland study underway

The largest ever survey of the health of Australia's vital wetlands has begun, with a team of environmental researchers from the University of New South Wales conducting a special aerial survey of waterbirds across the entire continent.

In a marathon series of flights in three aircraft over two months, the team will criss-cross the continent to visit every possible significant wetland, at a cost of more than $1.1 million.

It is the first time that all of the nation's wetlands have been assessed together in this way and is thought to be the largest and most ambitious continental-scale research project of its type ever attempted.

Led by the prominent environmental scientist and wetlands expert, Professor Richard Kingsford, of the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, the survey team will fly at low altitude to count the number and species of waterbirds living in the wetlands to assess their relative health.

"This important project is a world first," says Professor Kingsford. "No resource is more vital to Australia than its fresh water and no other country has used waterbirds as an indicator of the health of its wetlands.

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