Internationally significant wetlands

Twelve NSW wetlands are listed under an international convention that aims to protect their ecological character.

Some wetlands are protected by what’s known as the Ramsar Convention. Its full name is the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.

The convention was first signed in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971. It aims to promote and protect wetlands throughout the world. Today, it recognises and protects more than 192 million hectares of wetlands.

Countries that sign up to the convention can nominate sites to be listed as Wetlands of International Importance. These are referred to as Ramsar sites and must meet at least 1 of 9 internationally accepted criteria.

For example, the wetlands might support a large population of animals and plants, provide habitats for threatened or endangered species or be unique in their region.

Australia has 65 Ramsar sites covering more than 8.3 million hectares, an area bigger than Tasmania. Provisions for their protection are outlined in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Ramsar sites in New South Wales

These wetlands are on a range of land tenures, including national parks and nature reserves, State forests, Crown land and private land.

There are 12 Ramsar sites in New South Wales.

Blue Lake Lake Pinaroo (Fort Grey Basin) Myall Lakes
Fivebough and Tuckerbil Swamps Little Llangothlin Nature Reserve NSW Central Murray Forests 
Gwydir Wetlands Narran Lake Nature Reserve Paroo River Wetlands
Hunter Estuary Wetlands Macquarie Marshes Towra Point

Protecting NSW Ramsar sites

OEH is responsible for implementing the Ramsar Convention in NSW.

Under the Convention, NSW is required to protect the ecological character of its Ramsar sites. This involves implementing policies that aim to guarantee conservation and sustainable use of wetlands

It also involves monitoring the condition of Ramsar sites to find out if there are any significant changes to the wetlands and the plants and animals they support.

This means OEH is responsible for:

  • coordinating which wetlands are to be nominated for listing as Ramsar sites
  • advising on how existing Ramsar wetlands are managed
  • managing Ramsar wetlands in national parks and reserves
  • promoting the values of the Ramsar Convention
  • reporting to the Australian government on how the convention is being implemented in NSW.

Many other organisations and individuals are involved in Ramsar wetlands in New South Wales. They include the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Commonwealth Government, local governments, landowners and community groups.

The OEH guide Delivering the Ramsar Convention in NSW explains the roles and responsibilities of Ramsar site managers.