After a three-year fight, the Port Stephens community can relax safe in the knowledge that the Mambo Wetlands, which was controversially sold for development by the state government, is back in community hands.
Port Stephens councillors voted unanimously on Tuesday night to protect the land for future generations.
The 5.6 hectare piece of land in Salamander Bay, which is prominent koala habitat, was sold in 2016 to a developer by 'mistake'.
The government announced last month that it had bought back the site for $420,000.
At Tuesday night's council meeting, councillors accepted the transfer of seven lots of land in Port Stephens Drive, Salamander Bay from the Planning Ministerial Corporation for the cost of $1, classified it as community land and consolidated the lots into the adjoining Mambo Wetlands.
Mayor Ryan Palmer described the acquisition as a win for the community of Port Stephens, particularly the hard-working volunteers and members of the Mambo-Wanda Wetlands Conservation Group.
"Tonight we put one of Port Stephens' most significant environmental assets safely back in community hands," he said. "The council has long advocated for the land to be returned to the community - it's wonderful to get the result that Port Stephens deserves.
"I want to thank the community members who fought long and hard for this outcome."
East Ward Councillor Jaimie Abbott has thanked those who contributed to the acquisition.
"What a journey it's been," she said. "I'd like to thank this council and the Premier [Gladys Berejiklian] but most importantly I want to pay tribute to the community - so many people who worked tirelessly to win this fight."
Cr Giacomo Arnott paid tribute to State Labor MP Kate Washington for her devoted fight to the cause.
Port Stephens Council has also recently received $100,000 from the NSW Government's Environmental Trust to rehabilitate and protect the Mambo Wetlands from invasive species.
The council is looking for volunteers to join a working bee on the last Wednesday of the month. For more information or to volunteer, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.