The Myall Lakes Ramsar site is 75 kilometres north of Newcastle on the north coast of New South Wales.
It covers an area of 44,612 hectares and consists of 5 separate subsites:
- Myall Lakes National Park
- Corrie Island Nature Reserve
- Little Broughton Island Nature Reserve
- part of Gir-um-bit National Park
- part of Port Stephens–Great Lakes Marine Park.
Why these wetlands were listed as a Ramsar site
Countries that sign up to the Ramsar Convention can nominate sites to be listed as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar sites). The site must meet at least 1 of 9 internationally accepted criteria.
The Myall Lakes were listed as a Ramsar site in 1999 because they meet the following criteria:
Criterion 1: Representative or unique wetlands
The Myall Lakes wetlands are a large coastal brackish lake system that are in a near-natural condition.
They are one of the two largest brackish-freshwater barrier estuaries in the South East Coast drainage division and are an excellent representative example of this wetland type in New South Wales.
They contain a unique co-existence of deep and shallow-water macrophytes (a type of aquatic plant) and the organic lake-floor mud known as gyttja.
Criterion 2: Threatened species or ecological communities
The Myall Lakes Ramsar site supports five threatened species.
- Australasian bittern
- Freycinet's frog, green and golden bell frog
- green-thighed frog
- stuttering frog.
The site also supports the Littoral Rainforest and Coastal Vine Thickets of Eastern Australia, a threatened ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Criterion 3: Populations of plants and/or animals important for maintaining biodiversity of a particular bioregion
The site supports a rich biodiversity, including over 900 species of plants and more than 400 species of animals.
The site regularly supports a substantial number of waterbirds, including 22 migratory species listed under international agreements.
How the site is managed
Management of this Ramsar site is guided by the following:
- the site’s Ramsar information sheet
- its ecological character description
- a plan of management for Myall Lakes National Park, Little Broughton Island Nature Reserve and Stormpetrel Nature Reserves
- a zoning plan for those parts of the Ramsar site within the Port Stephens–Great Lakes Marine Park.
Threats to the Ramsar site
The main threats to this site’s ecological character include:
- nutrient and sediment loads from the catchment
- recreational activities
- aquatic and terrestrial weeds
- climate change.