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Step 1: Determine the purpose or outcome (purpose)

Things to think about

  • Why manage and / or rehabilitate?
  • What are the services / values are to be managed or enhanced?
  • What are the threats to the services/ values?
  • Who will be affected by the activities?
  • Are permits or permissions required?
  • Who can help?
Upper Brisbane River Photo by Queensland Government

Quick facts

The wetland
values and services coupled with the pressures and threats will help guide the wetland management and rehabilitation purpose.

Glenmay Photo by Moreton Bay Regional Council

The clearer the purpose, the easier it is to identify and implement management actions. The purpose for wetland rehabilitation needs to be very clearly stated at the start and should be linked to desired services or value to be achieve e.g. better biodiversity outcomes. Linking wetland rehabilitation to services and values enables the investigation into potential threats which is crucial as sometimes the removal or change to some perceived threats may not result in the desired or expected outcomes e.g. the inclusion of a barrier to help a rare fish species by reducing predators instead changes the breeding cycle (due to associated changes in the hydrology) and the rare fish species declines in number.

Some wetland management decisions favour either wetland conversion or management for a single ecosystem service such as water supply or food production. As wetlands become scarcer, and under increasing more pressure, and as we develop a better understanding of the full range of values provided by them, the best options should increasingly involve managing wetlands for a broader array of services and in alignment with the wise use principles of the Ramsar Convention.

A common duel use includes returning a system to its natural (or near-natural) state, to enhance opportunities for wildlife, while enhancing recreational opportunities. But there are many other values associated with wetlands such as flood mitigation, sediment and nutrient removal, erosion control, coastal shoreline and bank stabilization and storm protection, water supply, tourism.

Upper Tallebudgeraba Smales Park Photo by Gold Coast City Council

Management techniques to improve or conserve one or more specific values may not be appropriate for others. It is important that wetlands are managed through the principles of wise use which maximises the services provided by a wetland without compromising other services e.g. water usage ends up changing water regimes and makes wetland no longer suitable for a rare species that uses the wetland.

The objective of some rehabilitation projects is to fully recreate the native vegetation believed to have occupied the site before it was degraded. However, comprehensive restoration of all plants species can be difficult and costly. In contrast, other forms of rehabilitation only go part way to re-establishing a diverse ecosystem. For example, the greatest diversity of plants is found within the groundcover of a high quality ecosystems (grasses, lilies and sedges) and a diverse riparian understory can be the most difficult to restore so the riparian revegetation may focus on rapidly growing pioneer and climax species of trees. With these in place, understory can usually naturally re-establish at no cost.

  • No matter how small the project it will take funding. Rehabilitation funding is often available through local councils, catchment groups and / or state government. It is worth investigating what is available early. Don't forget to include volunteer (in-kind) time in funding applications.
  • Do the research, check with the local council regarding support, permits and permissions. This could save money and time in the long run.
  • Now is also a good time to have a chat with the neighbours. Let them know what the plans are, see if the aims fit with theirs and get their support. They may be able to help and provide support needed for funding applications and might even lend some muscle power! Remember the project may only take a month to complete but you may be living next to your neighbours for years!

Last updated: 10 September 2018

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2018) Step 1: Determine the purpose or outcome (purpose), WetlandInfo website, accessed 13 May 2021. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science