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5Overview of Current and Future Threats


The threats to the ecological character of the Kakadu National Park Ramsar site varies greatly across multiple spatial and temporal scales and in terms of their potential severity. Major threats are summarised in Table 5 -23 and are discussed below. In characterising the key threats outlined in Table 5 -23, the consequence of individual threats were assessed based on categories presented in Table 5 -24.

Table 5 23 Summary of major threats to the Kakadu National Park Ramsar site



Threat

Potential impacts to wetlands

Consequence

Timing*

Proliferation/ introduction of exotic flora

Continuing impacts from presence and proliferation of key wetland weed species such as mimosa, salvinia, para grass and olive hymenachne.

Medium

Short- to long-term

Proliferation/ introduction of exotic fauna

Continuing impacts from cane toads, pigs, buffalo and other invasive species into wetland habitats and negative impacts on the populations of wetland-dependant species.

High

Short- to long-term

Climate change –Increased saltwater intrusion from sea level rise

Increased rates of saltwater intrusion and loss of predominant freshwater wetland areas; associated loss of species diversity and habitat and associated ecological and cultural values associated with these areas.

Medium to high

Medium- to long-term

Climate change –Changes to mangrove distribution from sea level rise

Increased proliferation of mangroves at the expense of saltmarsh and Melaleuca communities; possible loss of existing mangrove communities in foreshore and lower estuary zones due to increased sea level rise and water-logging; associated loss of species diversity and habitat and associated ecological and cultural values associated with these areas.

Medium to high

Medium- to long-term

Climate change – Changes to fire regime

Changes to rates of evaporation and increased drought conditions leading to change in wetland inundation regimes and increased risks of wetland damage from more intense fires.

Medium to high

Medium- to long-term

Tourism and recreational activities

Disturbance to flora and fauna; litter and waste production, water pollution, damage to archaeological sites/materials, restriction on private cultural activities, impacts to habitats by boats..

Low

Short- to medium-term

Mining activities

Release of radionuclides and other pollutants into surface and/or groundwater and associated ecological effects and possible human health effects in terms of bioaccumulation in bush tucker species, potential damage to culturally significant sites.

Low to medium

Short-term

Public safety and crocodiles

Continued diminishment of tourism and recreational values (e.g. swimming) as a result of presence of large crocodiles in high use areas.

Medium

Short- to medium-term

Damage to archaeological resources and rock art

Specifically human induced impacts including theft, vandalism and inappropriate development and tourism. Weathering, vegetation growth and feral animal, termite and fire damage.

Low to medium

Medium- to long-term

Living resource extraction

Impact on fish populations, loss of bush tucker resources, loss of application of traditional cultural practices; impact of poaching/ inappropriate hunting on wildlife and plant populations.

Low to medium

Medium- to long-term

    *Timing: short term: about 1-2 years; medium term: about 5 – 10 years; long term: more than 10 years.


Table 5 24 Threat Consequence Categories

Consequence

Interpretation

High

  • Irreversible impacts at the broad scale or regional scale

  • Medium-term impact at the broad scale

Medium

Low



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