Blue Lake Ramsar site

Blue Lake is located in Kosciuszko National Park and is one of only four cirque lakes (along with Lake Cootapatamba, Lake Albina and Club Lake) on mainland Australia. It is the only one of the four alpine lakes with a unique thermal regime. The Ramsar site also includes Hedley Tarn, a smaller lake about 400 metres downstream in the outflow creek from Blue Lake.

map of the Blue Lake Ramsar site in NSW

Blue Lake Ramsar site map

Why was this wetland listed as a Ramsar site?

Blue Lake Ramsar site was listed under the Ramsar Convention in 1996 because it meets the following Ramsar nomination criteria:

Criterion 1 - Representative or unique wetlands

The site contains a rare example of a near-natural alpine wetland within the South-East Coast drainage division. Due to their protection in Kosciuszko National Park for more than 50 years, Blue Lake and Hedley Tarn remain in a near natural state, and are surrounded by alpine herb fields, heaths, fens and bogs.

Criterion 2 - Threatened species or ecological communities

Blue Lake Ramsar site supports threatened species, including the mountain pygmy possum (Burramys parvus), listed as endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), alpine tree frog (Litoria verreauxii alpina), listed as vulnerable under the EPBC Act, and anemone buttercup (Ranunculus anemoneus), listed as vulnerable under the EPBC Act.

Criterion 3 - Populations of plants and/or animals important for maintaining biodiversity of a particular bioregion

Blue Lake Ramsar site supports plants and animals important for maintaining the biological diversity of the South East Coast drainage division. This has been acknowledged through the inclusion of Kosciuszko National Park as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The site supports plant species limited to alpine areas such as the snow buttercup (Ranunculus niphophilus), rock or branched caraway (Oreomyrrhis brevipes), snowpatch cushion-plant (Colobanthus nivicola) and Kosciuszko pineapple-grass (Astelia psychoracharis).

More information

The key document for Blue Lake Ramsar site is the Ramsar information sheet. It outlines the criteria met by the site, special features and management practices within the site and its catchment.

The Ramsar Convention requires Contracting Parties to maintain the ecological character of their Ramsar listed wetlands. Australia has developed a framework for describing ecological character in detail. The ecological character description for Blue Lake Ramsar site provides a comprehensive description of the site’s critical values (components, processes and services) at its time of listing.

The plan of management for Kosciuszko National Park, adopted in 2006, identifies specific actions for the catchment of Blue Lake and Hedley Tarn to protect the values on which Ramsar listing was based and to address threats to those values. Those actions include the control of introduced plants and animals, the encouragement of ‘leave no trace’ principles, banning of fires above the tree line, prohibiting camping within the catchment of Blue Lake and Hedley Tarn, and restricting access to Blue Lake Ramsar site to walking and skiing only.

While Blue Lake and Hedley Tarn are considered to be in a near-natural condition, threats to the Ramsar site’s ecological character include climate change, cloud seeding, recreation and tourism, bushfires, and erosion and sedimentation.

The Ramsar Managers Network provides a forum for Ramsar site managers in NSW.

Page last updated: 26 October 2012