mullet-lake Mullet Lake - Photo © J Higbid/DPaW

The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty on the conservation of important wetlands.

Australia was among the first five member countries of the Ramsar Convention, and the first to nominate a wetland for listing. 

Currently, 168 countries and agencies have designated 2,178 wetland sites, totalling over 208 million hectares, to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

Australian Ramsar wetland sites

Australia has 65 Ramsar sites, covering more than 8.3 million hectares.

Being a signatory to the Ramsar Convention, Australia has undertaken to ensure our internationally important wetlands are conserved.

The federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, protects Australia's Ramsar wetlands by applying consistent management principles and arrangements between the Australian Government (Department of the Environment) and the states.

Any activity that may have a significant impact on a Ramsar wetland goes through a rigorous environmental assessment and approvals process.

Peel-Yalgorup - Photo © K Wilson

Ramsar wetland sites in Western Australia

There are 12 Ramsar wetland sites in Western Australia.

The Department of Parks and Wildlife has the lead role in recommending suitable wetlands to the state government for nomination on the List of Wetlands of International Importance via the Australian Government and the Ramsar Bureau.

This process involves consulting with key stakeholders and preparing nomination documents containing details of the values and other features of each wetland.

The 12 Ramsar wetlands in Western Australia
Site (and further information)Ramsar information sheetMap               DescriptionManagement plan

Becher Point Wetlands

pdfBecher Point398.54 KB pdf 102 KB

In preparation

pdfRockingham Lakes Regional Park2.38 MB

Eighty-Mile Beach

pdfEighty-mile Beach193.1 KB pdf188.77 KB

pdfEighty Mile Beach3.79 MB

pdfEighty Mile Beach Marine Park3.51 MB
Forrestdale and Thomsons Lakes pdfThomsons Forrestdale308.72 KB pdf 30 KB

pdfForrestdale and Thomsons Lake6.04 MB

pdfForrestdale Lake Nature Reserve631.45 KB
pdfThomsons Lake851.77 KB

Lake Gore pdfLake Gore393.02 KB

pdf58 KB

pdfLake Gore3.48 MB

pdfEsperance Lakes Nature Reserves2.28 MB
Lake Warden System pdfLake Warden246.97 KB pdf267 KB pdf Lake Warden System4.29 MB pdfEsperance Lakes Nature Reserves2.28 MB
Lakes Argyle and Kununurra pdfArgyle Kununurra151.67 KB pdf669 KB pdfLakes Argyle and Kununurra 4.23 MB  
Muir-Byenup System pdfMuir Byenup254.88 KB pdf298 KB pdfMuir-Byenup System2.2 MB pdfPerup4.35 MB

Ord River Floodplain

pdfOrd River Floodplain195.96 KB pdf669 KB

pdfOrd River Floodplain 6.16 MB

pdfOrd River and Parry Lagoons Nature Reserves5.27 MB
Peel-Yalgorup System pdfPeel-Yalgorup 300.05 KB pdf1.3 MB pdfPeel-Yalgorup System5.74 MB

pdfSwan Coastal Plain South7.44 MB
pdfLake McLarty2.63 MB
pdfPeel-Yalgorup18.61 MB

Roebuck Bay pdfRoebuck Bay261.82 KB pdf238 KB pdfRoebuck Bay 4.63 MB  In preparation
Toolibin Lake pdfToolibin Lake372.19 KB pdf835 KB pdf Toolibin Lake1.39 MB  pdfToolibin Lake278.46 KB
Vasse-Wonnerup System pdfVasse-Wonnerup 521.77 KB pdf1005 KB pdf Vasse-Wonnerup System7.76 MB  pdfTuart Forest National Park2.84 MB

World Wetlands Day

On 2 February each year, World Wetlands Day, the Cockburn Wetlands Education Centre holds the Annual Western Australian Management Conference to exchange information and ideas between wetland practitioners, with a focus on the latest developments on managing and restoring wetlands.


Wetlands of national importance

lake-ballard
Lake Ballard, DIWA Site - Photo © S Kern

As a key part of their commitment to recognising Australia's most important wetlands, all state, territory and commonwealth governments have jointly compiled a Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia.

The Directory identifies more than 800 nationally important wetlands, and provides a substantial knowledge base of what defines wetlands, their variety, and the many plants and animals that depend on them.

It includes information about their social and cultural values, and some of the benefits they provide to people. It is a valuable tool for managers and others interested in Australia's important wetlands.

Visit the Australian Wetlands Database for up-to-date information on nationally important wetlands.

Wetlands are identified as nationally important if they:

  • provide a good example of a wetland type occurring within a biogeographical region in Australia
  • play an important ecological or hydrological role in the major functioning of a major wetland system/complex
  • provide important habitat for animals at a vulnerable stage in their life cycles, or a refuge when adverse conditions (such as drought) prevail
  • support at least one per cent of the national populations of any native plant or animal species
  • support nationally threatened plant or animal species, or ecological communities
  • are of outstanding historical or cultural significance.

Of the 904 currently listed nationally important wetlands, 65 are recognised as internationally important under the Ramsar Convention.

Lake Quallilup - Photo © M Coote and H Smith

Western Australia's nationally listed wetlands

Western Australia has 120 nationally important wetlands and wetland systems covering more than 2.5 million hectares.

  • Most of these wetlands occur within existing or proposed reserves managed by Parks and Wildlife.
  • Some occur on private property or pastoral lease, or lands for other purposes so their conservation depends on community assistance through programs such as Landcare, Land for Wildlife or Healthy Wetland Habitats.