World Wetlands Day Celebrates Natural Values Sat 2 February 2013 Brian Wightman Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage The Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, Brian Wightman, today recognised the natural and economic value of Tasmania's wetlands. Mr Wightman visited the Tamar Island Wetlands Centre at Riverside, to mark World Wetlands Day. "Tasmania's main attractions are its natural beauty and fantastic lifestyle," Mr Wightman said. "Those are also two of our main economic strengths - give us natural advantages over other places. "That's why we need to nurture and protect Tasmania's natural values - including our wetlands. "It makes good social, environmental and economic sense, and the Tasmanian Government is determined to manage that balance well," he said. Tasmania's wetlands provide vital habitat for native animal and plant species, as well as improving water quality and flood mitigation. 10 of them are recognised as internationally significant under the Ramsar Convention. World Wetlands Day is about raising awareness of wetland values, and promotes conservation and wise use. It marks the signing of the Ramsar Convention on February 2nd, 1971. This year's theme is 'Wetlands and Water Management - The Big Picture'. It encourages Tasmanians to think about wise water use, and their role in water conservation. The Tamar Island Wetlands Centre is hosting free Activities between 10am and 3pm, including mural painting, treasure hunts, live raptor and reptile displays, and butterfly masks. As artist in residence, the local wildlife artist and naturalist, Robin Wingrave, will demonstrate wildlife painting. The centre's on the West Tamar Highway, and can be reached on 6327 3964. There's plenty of parking. The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens in Hobart also has free activities from 10am to 3pm, including a 'funky forum', with expert speakers talking about crayfish, birds, fish and plants. There's also weaving with wetland plants for the artistically-inclined, and games and activities for children. Scouts and Girl Guides will provide a sausage sizzle, and a bus will take visitors to a guided walk at a wetland at Lauderdale. There's more information at www.dpipwe.tas.gov.au/worldwetlandsday or the Parks and Wildlife Service website www.parks.tas.gov.au.