Ewans Lake- Photo © S Kern

Wetlands monitoring

Through a variety of projects and initiatives, Parks and Wildlife monitors a range of wetlands across Western Australia to provide early warnings of changes and to investigate responses of wetland animals and plants to threatening processes.

Key monitoring projects include:


Wetland biodiversity of the Pilbara's Fortescue Valley

The middle to upper reaches of the Pilbara's Fortescue Valley consists of two significant floodplains with a wide array of wetlands. These include the unique Fortescue Marsh, but also a large number of smaller claypan wetlands. Claypans are poorly represented in the region’s conservation estate and not as common elsewhere in the region. Off reserve conservation of these wetlands is therefore critical. Between 2015 and 2017 Rangelands NRM WA provided funding to the department’s Wetlands Conservation Program to survey wetland flora between Mount Florence and Balfour Downs Stations. This survey described patterns in the distribution of wetland biodiversity that can be used to plan the spatial configuration of wetland conservation programs within this part of the Pilbara.

For further information contact Adrian Pinder


Wheatbelt wetlands monitoring (State Salinity Strategy) (1996 - ongoing)

undertaking wetland monitoring in the wheatbelt
Undertaking wetland monitoring in the
Wheatbelt - © Parks and Wildlife

Substantial loss of biodiversity has occurred across the Wheatbelt of Western Australia over the past 100 years. The most pronounced physical changes to wetlands have been associated with native vegetation clearing, resulting in altered hydrology (generally more water in wetlands than is natural) and changes to water quality including salinisation. Broadscale clearing has more or less ceased but salinisation and fragmentation processes will continue to be expressed for many decades. While it is known that salinisation and altered hydrology are major threats to wetland biodiversity, the relationships between their physical expression and loss of biodiversity was poorly documented and poorly understood.

This project aims to monitor the biological responses to changes in surface water quantity and quality and groundwater levels at a representative subset of the wetlands monitored for depth and water chemistry in the SWWMP project below). This provides knowledge of how wetlands would respond to hydrological management actions such as drainage or vegetation planting and to ongoing decline in rainfall.

For further information contact:


South West Wetlands Monitoring Program (SWWMP) (1977 - ongoing)

installing water monitiring equipment at a gingilup swamp nature reserve
Installing water monitiring
equipment at a Gingilup
Swamp Nature Reserve
© Yvonne Winchcombe

Water level, salinity and pH monitoring at up to 119 south-west wetlands commenced in 1977, initially to inform the specifications for annual waterfowl hunting and to monitor the potential impacts of salinity on waterfowl and their habitats. After recreational waterfowl hunting was banned in Western Australia in 1992, the focus shifted to a smaller number of mostly near-coastal freshwater wetlands. Since 1997, funded under the State Salinity Strategy, monitoring has resumed at up to 105 wetlands, many of which are of national or international significance, with the objective to determine long-term (multi-decadal) trends in wetland hydrology and water quality to provide an early warning of deleterious change and a sound basis for corrective action, as required. This work is opportunistically supplemented by investigations into wetland waterbird communities. A parallel project to investigate the responses of aquatic flora and fauna to salinisation is also being conducted at a subset of these wetlands (see project above).


For further information contact Jim Lane 

Forest stream biodiversity monitoring project (Forest Management Plan 2004-13) (2005-2015)

forest stream monitoring
Forest stream monitoring
© Parks and Wildlife

Disturbances associated with forest management (such as harvesting and burning) modify landscapes and can alter stream water chemistry, hydrology, sediment processes and physical habitats, with consequences for stream biodiversity. The Forest Management Plan 2004-2013 (FMP) addresses the need to manage Western Australian forests to protect aquatic biodiversity. This project was designed to assess the effects of forest management activities on aquatic macroinvertebrate diversity and stream water quality (one of the key performance indicators of the FMP. This data has also been used to assess how well aquatic invertebrates are represented in the south-west conservation estate.


For further information contact: Melita Pennifold 

Warren Region wetland survey and monitoring (Forest Management Plan 2014-23) (2015-ongoing)

The far south-west has a large number of wetlands unlike those anywhere else in the state. Many of these are permanent, fresh, have organic substrate and support unique suites of animals and plants, many restricted to the area. Previous biological surveys have highlighted the distinctiveness of the flora and fauna of these wetlands, including unpublished surveys of aquatic invertebrates in the Muir-Byenup Ramsar wetlands in the mid 1990s and 2000s and surveys of wetlands along the Walpole to Northcliffe area in 1994 as part of the 1999 Regional Forest Agreement. As a result of declining rainfall and altered land-use many of these wetlands have experienced significant changes to their hydrology and water quality since these earlier surveys. This project aims to investigate responses of aquatic invertebrates to these changes over the last 10-20 years by resurveying the same wetlands. The project addresses two of the key performance indicators of the 2014-23 Forest Management Plan dealing with Ramsar wetlands (KPI3) and maintaining condition of healthy terrestrial and wetland ecosystems (KPI1).

For further information contact Melita Pennifold

South West Catchments Council south west wetlands montoring project (2006-08)

  • Between 2006 and 2008, the department monitored 25 wetlands between Mandurah and Augusta as part of a South West Catchments Council funded project ‘Mapping classification and evaluation of wetlands’.

    A range of wetland types were selected, and included internationally and regionally significant wetlands on both public and private land.

    Baseline data was collected for water quality, macroinvertebrates, phytoplankton, waterbirds and vegetation to assist with wetland mapping, and to provide information relevant to the management and monitoring of wetlands at both a regional and local level.

    pdfWetland mapping and monitoring in the South West, WATSNU, December 2007363.46 KB

  • Examining a spearwood thicket near
    a monitoring site
    Photo © W Manson
  • ©  Parks and Wildlife

Statewide inland aquatic integrity resource condition monitoring 2008

The condition of 45 significant WA wetlands was surveyed in 2008. The reports below provide the method used and the reports of the condition of the wetlands surveyed.

Resource Condition Reports of significant Western Australian wetlands
pdfAirfield Swamp (Nguyarri)2.19 MB pdfLake Eda2.99 MB pdfMarglu Billabong, Parry Lagoons695.32 KB
pdfBalicup Lake806.48 KB pdfLake Goorly551.82 KB  pdfMoorimoordinina Pool4.68 MB 
pdfCoyrecup Lake1.04 MB pdfLake Gore1.92 MB pdfMuggon Claypan777.38 KB
pdfDales Gorge4.68 MB pdfLake Gregory 1.41 MB pdfMuggon Lake777.38 KB 
pdfDesert Queen Baths826.26 KB pdfLake Guraga978.72 KB  pdfMungilli Claypan1.14 MB 
pdfDunns Swamp 741.34 KB pdfLake Logue 956.07 KB pdfNgallagunda Swamp 1.13 MB
pdfEwans Lake 545.21 KB pdfLake MacLeod 2.51 MB pdfPalm Pool4.68 MB
pdfFortescue Marsh East 4.68 MB pdfLake Wooleen and Yewlands Pool1012.75 KB  pdfRowles Lagoon 1.24 MB
pdfFortescue Marsh West 4.68 MB pdfLe Lievre Swamp (Iljamalkarda)2.28 MB pdfSaunders Spring2.19 MB
pdfHowick Swamp 936.44 KB pdfLeeman Lagoon1.18 MB pdfYeo Lake744.41 KB 
pdfHutt Lagoon 825.84 KB pdfLindsay Gordon Lagoon1.03 MB pdfVasse Estuary843.4 KB
pdfLake Ballard 727.86 KB pdfLower Fortescue Pool4.68 MB 

Wetlands research

Wetlands conservation research is undertaken across Western Australia, ranging from investigating the hydrology of catchments affected by salinity in the Wheatbelt to the stygofauna of the inland Pilbara.