Wetlands are areas of land covered or saturated with fresh, brackish or salt water that’s generally still or slow moving. The water can also sit just below the surface.
An area doesn’t need to be permanently wet to qualify as a wetland. The flooding or saturation can also happen cyclically or intermittently.
The area just needs to be wet for long enough for its plants and animals to be adapted to – or even dependent on – wet conditions for at least part of their life cycle.
Many wetlands in inland NSW can be dry for 10 years or longer before being flooded after heavy rain and then stay wet for several years. This allows wetland plants and animals to regenerate and reproduce.
Where wetlands are found
There are more than 20,000 wetlands across New South Wales.
In 2003, mapped wetlands covered about 4.5 million hectares of New South Wales – that’s about 6% of the state.
- Some of the biggest are in the Murray−Darling Basin, such as the Macquarie Marshes near Dubbo.
- Most of our other wetlands are on the coast, including estuaries and coastal lakes and lagoons.
- There are a few freshwater wetlands on the tablelands and in the highest alpine regions, such as the lakes in Kosciuszko National Park.
This information is explained in The Distribution of Wetlands in New South Wales (PDF 2MB).