Role of Government

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

Australia is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

Australian Implementation
Wingecarribee and the Convention



Commitments under the Ramsar Convention:

Contracting Parties commit themselves to:

  • Designate at least one site that meets the Ramsar criteria for inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance (the Ramsar List), and ensure the maintenance of the ecological character of each Ramsar site. Countries are expected to include in the List as many wetlands that meet the criteria as possible...

  • Include wetland conservation within their national land-use planning, so as to promote the wise use of all wetlands within their territory;

  • Establish nature reserves on wetlands, and promote training in wetland research, management and wardening;

  • Consult with other Parties about the implementation of the Convention, especially with regard to transfrontier wetlands, shared water systems, shared species, and development projects affecting wetlands.

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Australian Implementation


In Australia the Ramsar Convention is implemented primarily under State and Territory legislation although all three levels of government - Federal, State/Territory and local governments - are involved to varying degrees in land and water management decisions.

The Federal and State and Territory Environment Ministers make up the Australia and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC). ANZECC provides a national forum to discuss issues and formulate coordinated programs.

The ANZECC Wetlands Network is a working group of ANZECC consisting of wetlands experts from the Federal and each State and Territory nature conservation agency. One of the important tasks of the network is to coordinate the implementation of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention). The Australian Nature Conservation Agency convenes this network. Through the National Wetlands Program, the Federal Government assists the States and Territories with appropriate initiatives such as the preparation of management plans for Ramsar sites and with the completion of wetland inventories. (Biodiversity Group 2000)

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Wingecarribee and the Convention

At the 6th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties Brisbane held in Australia in 1996 Recommendation 6.1: Conservation of Peatlands was passed. It recognised the value of peatlands and called on the contracting parties, including Australia, to develop, adopt and implement regionally based peatland management guidelines such as the IUCN Guidelines for the Sustainable Utilization and Integrated Management of Tropical Peatlands. It also recommended the development and adoption of national policies for peatland conservation.

One of the principle expectations of the Convention is that Contracting Parties will not only promote and protect sites nominated under the "List of Wetlands of International Importance", but they will also encourage and promote the "wise use" of all other wetlands within that country and surrounding regions. Wingecarribee Swamp has been assessed by New South Wales as a wetland of "national" importance and is listed in the publication A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia (2nd ed) (1996). (Forbes, 1997)

According to the Biodiversity Group of Environment Australia in 1997, Wingecarribee Swamp would have met The Criteria for Identifying Wetlands of International Importance.

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Malcolm Forbes, Assistant Secretary Sustainable Water Branch, Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia, Mining Warden's Inquiry, 24 April 1997, Exhibit 99.

The Biodiversity Group, Ramsar in Australia,
Environment Australia, 2000.

The official Ramsar Convention website,

The Ramsar Info Pack, What is the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands?, The official Ramsar Convention website, 2000.

Ramsar and Peatlands,, The official Ramsar Convention website, 9 June 1998.

Additional Reference:

A global action plan for the wise use and management of peatlands, 7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971), San Josˇ, Costa Rica, 10-18 May 1999

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This site has been designed, researched and produced by Sharon Beder

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