Ramsar sites

Ramsar sites (or Ramsar wetlands) are wetlands of international importance listed under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. For more information on the convention globally visit the Ramsar Convention website.

There are 11 Ramsar sites in Victoria. The following documents are available for each Ramsar site:

  • Ecological character description -  documents the ecological character of the Ramsar site at the time it was listed under the Ramsar Convention;
  • Ramsar Information Sheets – provides essential data on the Ramsar site and is required by the Ramsar Convention;
  • The Ramsar site management plan sets out the management objectives and strategies for each Ramsar site. There has been a recent process of renewing site management plans. For seven sites, the management plans were embedded in regional waterway strategies that were developed by relevant catchment management authorities over 2013-14. The other four Ramsar sites have stand-alone plans, three of these were renewed over 2015-16, and one is currently in the process of being renewed.
  • Use our interactive mapping tool on the Biodiversity Interactive maps website
  • For a geospatial layer of of Ramsar site boundaries (RAMSAR25), visit the Victorian Government Directory website

The Barmah Forest Ramsar Site was listed in 1982.

The Ramsar site is 225 kilometres directly north of Melbourne, on the Victorian floodplain of the Murray River between Tocumwal and Echuca.

The Barmah Forest:

  • Is the largest river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) forest in Victoria;
  • Consists of a system of permanent and temporary wetlands that depend on regular river flooding;
  • Is an important drought refuge and feeding and breeding area for waterbirds;
  • Supports a large diversity of native plants and animals including the nationally vulnerable superb parrot (Polytelis swainsonii) and the largest area of moira grass plains (Pseudoraphis spinescens) in Victoria (see image above); and
  • Is important for native fish.

Land in the Ramsar site is reserved in the Barmah National Park and the River Murray Reserve and is managed by Parks Victoria.

The Goulburn-Broken Catchment Management Authority is responsible for catchment and waterway management in the region. Barmah Forest site management is detailed in the Goulburn Broken Waterway Strategy 2014-2022.

A description of the site’s boundary and maps of the site can be found in the Barmah Forest Ramsar Site Boundary Description.

The Barmah Forest Ramsar Site Ecological Character Description and Barmah Forest Ramsar Information Sheet can be found by visiting the Australian Ramsar Wetlands page on the Australian Government Department of the Environment website.

The Corner Inlet Ramsar Site was listed in 1982.

The Corner Inlet is the most southerly marine embayment and tidal mudflat system of mainland Australia and is located 260 kilometres south-east of Melbourne near Yarram.

Corner Inlet:

  • Has shallow intertidal mudflats which support the world's most southerly population of white mangroves (Avicennia marina), as well as extensive areas of saltmarsh and seagrass;
  • Is an important feeding and nesting area for many waterbirds and one of the most important areas in Victoria for migratory shorebirds; and
  • Supports a range of native fish species.

Most of the Ramsar site is reserved in the Corner Inlet Marine and Coastal Park and Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Park which are managed by Parks Victoria.

The West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority is responsible for catchment management in the region. The Corner Inlet Ramsar Site Management Plan is detailed in Part D and appendices 9-11 of the West Gippsland Waterway Strategy 2014-2022.

A description of the site’s boundary and maps of the site can be found in the Corner Inlet Ramsar Site Boundary Description.

The Corner Inlet Ramsar Site Ecological Character Description and Corner Inlet Ramsar Site Information Sheet can be found by visiting the Australian Ramsar Wetlands page on the Australian Government Department of the Environment website.

The Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands Ramsar Site was listed in 2001.

The Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands are located in Melbourne's south eastern suburbs approximately 30 km from Melbourne.

The site comprises two separate wetlands: Edithvale and Seaford. The wetlands are the last remaining significant examples of the Carrum Carrum Swamp which was largely drained in the nineteenth century.

The Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands:

  • Assist in the natural control of flooding;
  • Support foraging and potential breeding habitat for the nationally endangered Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus); and
  • Support more than 1 per cent of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway population of the migratory shorebird Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata).

The land in the Ramsar site is owned by Melbourne Water and the Frankston City Council. Melbourne Water takes the lead in managing the Ramsar site.

The Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority is responsible for catchment management in the region.

The Edithvale-Seaford Management Plan can be found on Melbourne Water’s website.

A description of the site’s boundary and maps of the site can be found in the Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands Ramsar Site Boundary Description.

The Edithvale-Seaford Ramsar Site Ecological Character Description and the Edithvale-Seaford Ramsar Information Sheet can be found by visiting the Australian Ramsar Wetlands page on the Australian Government Department of the Environment website.

The Gippsland Lakes Ramsar Site was listed in 1982.

The Ramsar Site is located 300 kilometres from Melbourne, south of the Eastern Highlands and to the east of the La Trobe valley. Ninety Mile Beach lies to the south.

The Ramsar site consists of a series of lakes and fringing wetlands. It is the largest estuarine lagoon system in Australia.

The lakes are important for waterbirds, including migratory shorebirds, fish such as Black Bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri) and threatened species such as the nationally vulnerable Growling Grass Frog (Litoria raniformis).

The Ramsar site consists of the Gippsland Lakes National Park and public reserves, most of which are managed by Parks Victoria.

The waters of some of the lakes are managed by DELWP.

The West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority is responsible for catchment management in the western part of the region and East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority in the eastern part of the region. The Gippsland Lakes Ramsar Site Management Plan can be found on the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority’s website.

A description of the sites boundary and maps of the site can be found in the Gippsland Lakes Ramsar Site Boundary Description.

The Gippsland Lakes Ramsar Site Ecological Character Description and Gippsland Lakes Ramsar Site Information Sheet can be found by visiting the Australian Ramsar Wetlands page on the Australian Government Department of the Environment website.

The Gunbower Forest Ramsar Site was listed in 1982.

The Ramsar site is a large, seasonally flooded River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) forest and woodland on the floodplain of the Murray River in Victoria between Echuca and Koondrook, 235 kilometres north-west of Melbourne.

The Ramsar site provides important habitat for native fish and waterbirds and supports the only breeding colony of the Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia) in Victoria.

Land in the Ramsar site is reserved in the Gunbower National Park and the River Murray Reserve managed by Parks Victoria and Gunbower State Forest managed by DELWP.

The North Central Catchment Management Authority is responsible for catchment and waterway management in the region. Gunbower Forest site management is detailed in Part B, C and appendix B in the North Central Waterway Strategy 2014-2022.

A description of the sites boundary and maps of the site can be found in the Gunbower Forest Ramsar Site Boundary Description.

The Gunbower Forest Ramsar Site Ecological Character Description and Gunbower Forest Ramsar Information Sheet can be found by visiting the Australian Ramsar Wetlands page on the Australian Government Department of Environment website.

The Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar Site was listed in 1982.

The Ramsar Site is a system of 12 temporary lakes fringed by River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) and Black Box (Eucalyptus largiflorens) and located on the Murray River floodplain between Ouyen and Mildura, 480 kilometres north-west of Melbourne.

The site is important for waterfowl, native fish and in maintaining regional biodiversity.

Threatened species that occur at the site include the nationally endangered Australian painted snipe (Rostratula australis) and winged peppercress (Lepidium monoplocoides).

The Ramsar site is located in the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park managed by Parks Victoria.

The Mallee Catchment Management Authority is responsible for catchment and waterway management in the region. Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes site management is detailed in section 4 and appendices 2B-E and 4C&D of the Mallee Waterway Strategy 2014-2022.

A description of the sites boundary and maps of the site can be found in the Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar Site Boundary Description.

The Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar Site Ecological Character Description and Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes Ramsar Information Sheet can be found by visiting the Australian Ramsar Wetlands page on the Australian Government Department of Environment website.

The Kerang Wetlands Ramsar Site was listed in 1982.

The Ramsar site consists of a system of 23 freshwater and saline wetlands on the lower floodplain of the Loddon and Avoca rivers and is recognised for its diversity of wetland types.

The site is located in northern Victoria near Kerang, 300 kilometres northwest of Melbourne.

The wetlands in the Ramsar site form part of a much larger system of over 100 wetlands.

Kerang Wetlands:

  • Regularly supports over 20,000 waterbirds;
  • Is an important area for waterbird breeding with 28 different species recorded as nesting in the site:
    • Middle Reedy Lake and Hird Swamp in the site support large breeding colonies of straw-necked ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) and Australian white ibis (Threskiornis molucca);
    • Third Marsh support breeding colonies of cormorants and spoonbills.

Threatened species also occur in the Ramsar site such as the nationally endangered Australian painted snipe (Rostratula australis) and the nationally vulnerable growling grass frog (Litoria raniformis).

The Ramsar site consists mainly of conservation reserves managed by Parks Victoria and water supply reserves managed by Goulburn-Murray Water.

The North Central Catchment Management Authority is responsible for catchment and waterway management in the region. Kerang Wetlands site management is detailed in Part B, C and appendix B in the North Central Waterway Strategy 2014-2022.

A description of the sites boundary and maps of the site can be found in the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar Site Boundary Description.

The Kerang Wetlands Ramsar Site information sheet can be found by visiting the Australian Ramsar Wetlands page on the Australian Government Department of Environment website. An updated ecological character description will be available on the Department of Environment's website soon.

The Lake Albacutya Ramsar Site was listed in 1982.

Lake Albacutya is one of a series of terminal lakes on the Wimmera River which form the largest landlocked drainage system in Victoria.

The Ramsar site is located in western Victoria north of Rainbow, approximately 400 kilometres north-west of Melbourne.

The lake fills only rarely but, once filled, it holds water for several years and supports large numbers of waterbirds.

The Lake Albacutya provenance of River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) which grows around the edge of the lake is renowned globally for its salt-tolerance.

The nationally vulnerable Regent Parrot (eastern) (Polytelis anthopeplus monarchoides) depends on tree hollows in the River Red Gums for nesting.

The Ramsar site is in the Lake Albacutya Regional Park managed by Parks Victoria. The Wimmera Catchment Management Authority is responsible for catchment and waterway management in the region. Lake Albacutya Ramsar Site Management Plan is detailed in appendix 2 of the Wimmera Waterway Strategy 2014-2022.

A description of the sites boundary and maps of the site can be found in the Lake Albacutya Ramsar Site Boundary Description.   

The Lake Albacutya Ramsar Site Ecological Character Description and Lake Albacutya Ramsar Site Information Sheet can be found by visiting the Australian Ramsar Wetlands page on the Australian Government Department of the Environment website.

The Port Phillip (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar Site was listed in 1982.

The Ramsar site is recognised for:

  • The representative quality of its natural wetlands; and
  • The large numbers of waterbirds supported on both its natural and artificial wetlands, especially migratory shorebirds and breeding colonies of several species including pied cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius), Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) and crested tern (Sterna bergii).

The site also provides:

  • Winter feeding habitat for up to 50 per cent of the global population of the nationally critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster); and
  • An important drought refuge through its wetlands for waterbirds when inland lakes and wetlands dry out.

Notable vegetation includes White Mangrove (Avicennia marina), saltmarsh and seagrass.

The site is made up of a number of wetlands stretching from Point Cook in Melbourne's south western suburbs to the north shore of Corio Bay north of Geelong and extending to the Bellarine Peninsula and Mud Islands.

The main agencies responsible for the management of the major wetlands in this site management are DELWP, Parks Victoria and Melbourne Water, as indicated:

  • Cheetham wetlands and other wetlands  in Point Cook Coastal Park and waters in the Point Cooke Marine Sanctuary managed by Parks Victoria and other adjacent waters managed by DELWP;
  • The Western Treatment Plant south east of Werribee which is managed by Melbourne Water and the adjacent waters which are managed by DELWP;
  • The Spit Nature Reserve which is managed by Parks Victoria
  • Commonwealth land at the Avalon Airfield which is leased from the Department of Defence;
  • Public land on the northern shoreline of Corio Bay between Point Wilson and Limeburners Lagoon which is mainly managed by Parks Victoria and the adjacent waters which are managed by DELWP;
  • Limeburners Lagoon which is managed by Parks Victoria;
  • Swan Bay near Queenscliff  and Mud Islands which are in the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park managed by Parks Victoria;
  • The Lake Connewarre wetland system which is reserved as the Lake Connewarre Wildlife Reserve and managed by Parks Victoria.

The Corangamite Catchment Management Authority is responsible for catchment and waterway management on the Bellarine Peninsula. The Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority is responsible for catchment management north of Geelong. The Ramsar site management plan is currently being updated.

The current plan is the Port Phillip (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar Site Strategic Management Plan.

A description of the sites boundary and maps of the site can be found in the Port Phillip (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar Site Boundary Description.

The Port Phillip (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar Site Information Sheet can be found by visiting the Australian Ramsar Wetlands page on the Australian Government Department of the Environment website. The ecological character description for the Ramsar site has not been finalised.

The Western District Lakes Ramsar Site was listed in 1982.

The Ramsar site consists of nine lakes on the Victorian Volcanic Plain between Winchelsea and Camperdown approximately 150 kilometres southwest of Melbourne. Lake Corangamite, one of the nine lakes, is the largest permanent saline lake in Australia but also supports localised groundwater-fed freshwater habitat.

The site supports large numbers of waterbirds, including migratory shorebirds and a breeding colony of the Australian Pelican  (Pelecanus conspicillatus) at Lake Corangamite when conditions are favourable.

Lake Beeac is very significant for banded stilt (Cladorhynchus leucocephalus) and red-necked avocet (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae).

Threatened species at the site include salt tussock grass (Poa sallacustris) and Spiny peppercress (Lepidium aschersonii) which are both listed as nationally vulnerable.

The Ramsar site consists of conservation reserves managed by Parks Victoria. The Corangamite Catchment Management Authority is responsible for catchment and waterway management in the region. Western District Lakes site management is detailed in the Corangamite Waterway Strategy 2014-2022.

A description of the sites boundary and maps of the site can be found in the Western District Lakes Ramsar Site Boundary Description.

The Western District Lakes Ramsar Site Ecological Character Description and Western District Lakes Ramsar Information Sheet can be found by visiting the Australian Ramsar Wetlands page on the Australian Government Department of the Environment website.

The Western Port Ramsar Site was listed in 1982.

The Ramsar site is a large bay located 60 kilometres southeast of Melbourne.

The site consists of shallow intertidal mudflats, seagrass and fringing saltmarsh and mangrove habitats which support a large number of migratory shorebirds and other waterbirds, fish and marine invertebrates.

Due to its marine nature, the site provides habitat year round and is an area of refuge for waterbirds during summer and drought. The site is listed is part of the Western Port Biosphere Reserve.

The Ramsar site consists of conservation reserves managed by Parks Victoria, other public reserves and waters within Western Port which are managed by DELWP.

The Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority is responsible for catchment and waterway management in the region.

A new management plan

The new Western Port Ramsar Site Management Plan, developed by DELWP and agency partners, with input from a broad range of stakeholders, replaces the 2003 Western Port Ramsar Site Strategic Management Plan. The updated plan incorporates new knowledge about the Western Port site and our strategic direction in management of the site and other Ramsar wetlands in Australia. The objective of the plan is to maintain the site’s ecological character. It provides the blueprint for managing the site over the next seven years.

Management of the site is outlined in the Western Port Ramsar Site Management Plan.

A description of the sites boundary and maps of the site can be found in the Western Port Ramsar Site Boundary Description.

The Western Port Ramsar Site Ecological Character Description and Western Port Ramsar Site Information Sheet can be found by visiting the Australian Ramsar Wetlands page on the Australian Government Department of the Environment website.

National Guidelines for Ramsar Sites

In addition to the policy for managing Ramsar sites in Victoria as set out in the Victorian Waterway Management Strategy, there are also national guidelines on the following matters which can be found on the Australian Government Department of the Environment website.

  • Mapping specifications for Australian Ramsar Wetlands;
  • National framework and guidance for describing the ecological character of Australia's Ramsar Wetlands;
  • National guidance on notifying change in ecological character of Australia's Ramsar Wetlands (Article 3.2); and
  • Australian Ramsar site nomination guidelines.

Nationally important wetlands

Many wetlands in Victoria have been recognised as nationally important in A Directory of National Wetlands in Australia. More information on these wetlands can be found in the Australian Wetlands Database on the Australian Government Department of Environment website

A geospatial layer of the Victorian wetlands in the Directory (WETLANDDIR) can be obtained via the Victorian Government Data Directory website. The interactive mapping tool Biodiversity Interactive Map can be used to view nationally important wetlands and produce maps.