The lower Hunter Valley contains some of the most significant wetlands in NSW including the Ramsar-listed Hunter Estuary Wetlands, as well as Port Stephens and Lake Macquarie (DECCW, 2009). The Hunter estuary contains the second largest area of mangroves in NSW and significant saltmarsh habitat occurs in and around the shores of Lake Macquarie. These habitats are important as feeding and roosting sites for a large seasonal population of shorebirds and as a waylay site for migratory birds. It is also important habitat for threatened amphibians. The Hunter estuary provides important nursery habitat for marine organisms including commercial species of fish and prawns. The Port Stephens estuary supports 22 migratory and ten breeding shorebird species. The estuary, together with rivers, creeks and tributaries under tidal influence, are included in the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park. Forests of swamp mahogany and paperbark in the lower Hunter Valley lowlands are important habitat for threatened species such as the grey-headed flying-fox, swift parrot and koala (DECCW, 2009).
The NSW Office of Water and the Office of Environment and Heritage have used a risk analysis framework (Serov et al., 2012) to identify groundwater-dependent ecosystems (GDEs) overlying NSW coastal groundwater sources. The conceptual framework classifies GDEs based on the degree to which they depend on groundwater access and their priority for management actions. It allows potential and actual impacts of proposed activities on GDEs to be assessed in accordance with the NSW Water Management Act 2000. The Hunter subregion contains 12 GDEs identified within this framework (see Figure 11 in Section 1.1.2and Table 19) of which four are listed under the NSW State Environmental Planning Policy No. 14 – Coastal Wetlands (SEPP 14).
No species were identified in the subregion from the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fishing and Aquaculture Threatened and Protected Species Viewer (DPI, 2014). However, DPI note that the Viewer should not be used to infer species absence and have recently added the dragonfly Archaeophya adamsi, which may occur in the southernmost extent of the Hunter subregion, to their list of threatened species (DPI, 2013). The Darling River Hardyhead (Craterocephalus amniculus) has also been added as an endangered population in June 2014. Other aquatics species identified in state or Commonwealth Acts were the green turtle, loggerhead turtle, dugong, southern right whale, humpback whale and sperm whale (Table 15).
Table 19 Groundwater-dependent ecosystems in the Hunter subregion
aWetlands listed under the NSW State Environmental Planning Policy No. 14 – Coastal Wetlands (SEPP 14).
The water sharing plan (WSP) for the Hunter unregulated and alluvial water sources (Department of Water and Energy, 2009) identifies 14 species of endangered frogs, seven species of endangered birds, two endangered flora species and one endangered macroinvertebrate.
Product Finalisation date
- 1.1.1 Bioregion
- 1.1.2 Geography
- 1.1.3 Geology
- 1.1.4 Hydrogeology and groundwater quality
- 1.1.5 Surface water hydrology and water quality
- 1.1.6 Surface water – groundwater interactions
- 1.1.7 Ecology
- Contributors to the Technical Programme
- About this technical product