From lakes and lagoons to coral reefs and seagrass beds, explore our wetlands and why they are important.

About 4.5 million hectares, or 6% of the state, make up NSW wetlands. Wetlands are important sites for biodiversity and can have social and cultural heritage significance. The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), in partnership with other agencies, local government and the community, is helping to protect these wetland areas.

What is a wetland?


Where are wetlands in NSW?


 MBG Water ribbons at Steam engine rookery January 2011. Photo: OEH



 Monitoring bird breeding in Lower Gingham Watercourse, Gwydir Wetlands in 2010. Photo: Daryl Albertson, OEH

Wetlands are areas that remain wet long enough for their plants and animals to have adapted and become dependent on the moist conditions for at least part of their life cycle. 


NSW wetlands can be found along the coast, in the mountains, in large cities, on inland rivers and in the arid far west.

Why are wetlands important?


How are wetlands protected?

Yellow spoonbill chicks Naran Lake Nature Reserve. Photo: Peter Terrill
Sorting tadpoles at Piggery Lake Yanga National Park. Photo: OEH
Wetlands are important to communities across NSW and home to birds, fish, frogs, plants, mammals and reptiles.   NSW wetlands are protected through environmental water deliveries, inclusion in national parks, agreements with landowners, bird and frog monitoring and research into wetland health.

More information

  • Threats to wetlands – The major threats to wetlands in NSW are river regulation and water diversion; development and catchment disturbance; introduction of weeds and pest animals; and climate change.
  • NSW policies and programs– 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.
  • Environmental watering – NSW environmental water management is improving environmental outcomes for rivers and wetlands while contributing to regional, social and economic objectives.

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Page last updated: 03 November 2015