Wetlands play an important role in landscape function, including cycling of carbon, water and nutrients, food and fibre production, water purification, regulation of flows, provision of habitats, and tourism and recreation services. The role of wetlands in carbon sequestration and storage has generally been under-estimated. Wetlands cover approximately six to nine per cent of the Earth's surface and contain about 35 per cent of global terrestrial carbon. Clearing or drainage of wetlands can lead to large losses of stored organic carbon to atmospheric carbon dioxide.
An Issues Paper has been developed by the Department, in consultation with the Wetlands and Waterbirds Taskforce, a COAG working group addressing issues relating to wetland management in Australia, to promote greater consideration of the roles of wetlands as carbon sources, sinks and stores.