10 Nov 2022
Sydney Olympic Park Wetland Education Centre has today been recognised as one of the world’s best wetland visitor centres. Their success was announced at the Conference of the global Wetlands Convention, known as Rasmar COP14, underway in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Star Wetland Centre Award is a new initiative to recognise best practice in eco-tourism and education at wetlands. It is coordinated by Wetland Link International (WLI), a support network for staff and volunteers at 300 wetland visitor centres.
Sydney Olympic Park Wetland Education Centre is one of 23 awardees who have been selected by an international panel of experienced wetlands professionals.
“The judges were impressed all-round,” says Chris Rostron, the Head of WLI and leader of the Star awards process. “From the ways of facilitating many segments of society, with a sensory trail and self-guided app, through to urban wetland management and education. The Stars have been awarded to twenty-three wetland visitor centres around the world, at a ceremony at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Wetlands, Ramsar COP14."
"Our Wetland Education Centre symbolises Sydney Olympic Park’s role as a living laboratory for continuous learning, innovation, adaptation and resilience," Dr Liz Develin, Chief Excuetive Officer of Sydney Olympic Park Authority, "As an education hub for all ages, the Centre is a focal point for our environmental programs, conservation efforts and industry partnerships’."
The Badu Wetlands are 60ha in size, comprising 40ha Mangroves, 10ha saltmarsh, 10 ha waterbird refuge.
The Park’s wetlands are registered by the Commonwealth and State governments as formal demonstration and specialist sites for ecological studies. These include the Green and Golden Bell Frog and Coastal Saltmarsh – two endangered species/ecosystems.
The wetlands of the Park (as a cluster) are listed on the Australian Wetlands of National Significance due to their very presence and particularly the educational opportunities that they hold.
The wetlands are Urban Hotspots for biodiversity and are considered as the most diverse urban park in the Sydney Bioregion.
Every year over 20,000 students and teachers visit the wetlands to undertake hands-on curriculum linked guided excursions. The Education staff delivering the school excursion programs are skilled environmental educators, with a passion for wetland environments and their protection. Their knowledge is enhanced by continual professional development sessions with the organisation's Environment and Ecology team and Wetland Manager Dr Swapan Paul.
The Wetland Centre is also a:
Wetland Link International (WLI) is a global network of wetland education centres. We define a wetland education centre as ‘any wetland where there is interaction between people and wildlife and CEPA (communications, education and public awareness) activity occurs in support of wetland conservation aims’. WLI is supported by two staff, based at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) at Slimbridge, UK; and a strong regional presence in Asia lead by the Ramsar Regional Centre – East Asia.
These staff, plus occasional volunteers, share news, opportunities, and requests on behalf of the network, by email, Facebook, and Twitter. The emails include two newsletters per year, prepared as PDFs to facilitate printing. We also produce three members' webinars each year.