NSW Wetlands Policy

NSW Government
The NSW Wetlands Policy promotes the sustainable conservation, management and wise use of wetlands in NSW and the need for all stakeholders to work together to protect wetland ecosystems and their catchments.




Wetlands at Yanga National Park. Photo: S. Cenedese, OEH

Guiding principles

The policy provides a set of guiding principles that all government agencies will adopt, and all stakeholders can refer to when making decisions on wetlands management and conservation. The principles are:

  1. Wetlands are valued as significant parts of NSW landscapes – their conservation and management are most appropriately considered at the catchment scale.
  2. Water regimes needed to maintain or restore the ecological resilience of wetlands should be provided through water management planning, water recovery and water purchase, recognising that a balance between environmental and human requirements must be reached.
  3. Floodplains should be managed to maintain the natural distribution of water to and from wetlands, and to allow for the movement of aquatic biota.
  4. Wetlands of international, national and regional significance should be identified and given priority for conservation and investment.
  5. Land management practices should maintain or improve wetland habitats, ecosystem services and cultural values.
  6. Wetlands should be recognised as places with important cultural values, in particular that wetlands are an important part of Country for Aboriginal people.
  7. Degraded wetlands and their habitats should be rehabilitated and their ecological processes improved as far as is practicable.
  8. The potential impacts of climate change should be considered in planning for wetland conservation and management.
  9. Research into wetland ecology should be encouraged to better support water and land-use planning and management.
  10. Natural wetlands should not be destroyed or degraded. If social or economic imperatives in the public interest result in a wetland being degraded or destroyed, the establishment and protection of a wetland offset that supports similar biodiversity and ecological functions will be needed.
  11. Cooperation and incentives among land managers, government authorities, catchment management authorities, non-government organisations and the general community are essential for effective wetland management.
  12. Regular reporting of wetland extent and condition is vital to assess management performance and understand wetland dynamics.

Download the NSW Wetlands Policy (10039wetlandspolicy.pdf, 1.15MB).

Many activities are under way to implement the 12 principles of the NSW Wetlands Policy, including:

Page last updated: 12 April 2011