Narran Lake Nature Reserve

These wetlands in north-west New South Wales were first listed under the Ramsar Convention in 1999, with a further area added in 2016.

Narran Lake Nature Reserve. RAMSAR site, a rare and unique wetland, undisturbed terminal lake systemThe Ramsar site within the Narran Lake Nature Reserve is about 50 kilometres east of Brewarrina in north-west NSW.

One section of the site was listed under the Ramsar Convention in 1999, and a further 3104 hectares were added in 2016. The site was extended to capture more breeding and feeding habitat for waterbirds.

It now covers a total area of 8447 hectares and comprises the whole floodplain area within Narran Lake Nature Reserve.

Why these wetlands were listed as a Ramsar site

Countries that sign up to the Ramsar Convention can nominate sites to be listed as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar sites). The site must meet at least 1 of 9 internationally accepted criteria.

Narran Lake Nature Reserve was listed as a Ramsar site because it meets the following criteria:

Criterion 1: Representative or unique wetlands

Narran Lake Nature Reserve is a particularly good representative example of a natural or near-natural wetland that is characteristic of the Murray–Darling Basin.

It contains a considerable diversity of habitats, including some of the largest expanses of the native plant lignum in New South Wales.

Criterion 2: Threatened species or ecological communities

Narran Lake Nature Reserve Ramsar site supports three wetland dependent threatened species:

Criterion 4: Supports species at a critical stage of their life cycle or provides refuge in adverse conditions

Narran Lake Nature Reserve supports 40 migratory bird species, including 19 listed under international agreements.

The site supports substantial breeding of waterbirds, including colonial nesting species such as ibises, cormorants, egrets and spoonbills.

It also provides drought refuge for waterbirds because it retains water for long periods following floods.

How the site is managed

Management of this Ramsar site is guided by the following:

The site’s significance for Aboriginal people

Aboriginal people are involved in managing the site through the Narran Lake Nature Reserve Aboriginal Co-management Committee.

The nature reserve is significant to Aboriginal people because:

  • the lakes are a traditional meeting place for Aboriginal tribes in the region
  • several Dreaming paths culminate at the lakes
  • there are many relatively undisturbed Aboriginal objects in the area.

Threats to the Ramsar site

The main threat to this Ramsar site is upstream water extraction, particularly the loss of small to medium-sized floods needed to maintain critical waterbird breeding habitat, such as lignum shrublands.