Wetlands are unique places in the Victorian landscape which provide many values to the community.
- Traditional Owners and Aboriginal people have used wetlands over many tens of thousands of years and they are an important part of Aboriginal cultural heritage.
- Wetlands act as sediment traps and filter nutrients from catchments. This helps protect the water quality of rivers, estuaries and marine areas.
- Wetlands reduce the impacts of flooding by holding and slowing floodwater.
- Wetlands provide habitat for native plants such as River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), mangroves, saltmarshes and for native animals such as waterbirds, frogs and fish.
- Wetlands provide a range of recreational opportunities such as boating, camping, bird watching, fishing and duck hunting which help to support tourism and local economies.
Many wetlands in Victoria are recognised for their environmental significance. For more information visit Significant wetlands.
World Wetlands Day 2017
World Wetlands Day on Thursday 2 February celebrates our wetlands and aims to raise awareness of their important role in our environment and communities.
It marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (the Ramsar Convention).
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
The Ramsar Convention was signed in 1971 at an international meeting in the town of Ramsar, in Iran. It is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. For more information on the convention visit the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands website.
DELWP is responsible for implementing Ramsar obligations in Victoria.
DELWP works with other State government agencies, land and water managers and the Australian Government to promote the wise use of wetlands. For more information visit the Australian Government Department of the Environment website.
Definition of wetlands
In Victoria, wetlands are defined as: "areas of permanent, periodic or intermittent inundation that hold still or very slow moving water which leads to the development of hydric soils, and have developed biota adapted to flooding.
Wetlands may be formed by natural processes or human activities". Wetlands include freshwater and saline lakes, swamps and shallow waters in Victoria's estuaries, bays and inlets.
Article 1 of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands uses a broader definition of wetlands which also includes rivers and other marine waters. For details refer to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands website.
Policy and guidance for wetlands In Victoria
The Victorian Waterway Management Strategy sets out the policy for managing Victoria's rivers, estuaries and wetlands. Read more about the strategy.
Victoria's wetland inventory and classification
Victoria's wetland inventory was updated in 2014 and brings together the most recent wetland data sets from a number of sources. It updates the state's first wetland inventory, which was completed in 1994.
Victoria's classification of wetlands was also updated in 2014. The new wetland classification framework is described in a 2016 report. The report explains each attribute used in the classification framework, the categories for the attribute and methods and data sources for assigning the categories to individual wetlands.
The new classification framework for Victoria is based on the Australian National Aquatic Ecosystem Classification Framework. For information on the framework visit the Australian Government Department of the Environment website.
Data on wetlands and their classification attributes can be found in the Victorian wetland inventory geodatabase: Victorian Wetland Inventory (Current).
An additional data set, Victorian Wetland Inventory (Pre-European) contains updated information on the extent of wetlands at the time of European settlement.
The wetlands inventory geospatial databases Victorian Wetland Inventory (Current) and Victorian Wetland Inventory (Pre-European) can be obtained via the Victorian Government Data Directory website. The interactive mapping tool Biodiversity Interactive Map can be used to view and produce wetland maps.
Native vegetation in wetlands is subject to native vegetation permitted clearing regulations. Read more about the regulations .
The Native Vegetation Information Management System (NVIM) provides information and resources about native vegetation generally. For more information visit the NVIM website.
For the Index of Wetland Condition (IWC), wetland vegetation is classified into wetland ecological vegetation classes (EVCs). Information available on wetland vegetation includes:
- Wetland EVC benchmarks, which provide a detailed description of each wetland EVC can be downloaded from the publications page on the Index of Condition System website.
- The Field guide to Victorian Wetland Ecological Vegetation Classes 2nd Edition describes the method for assessing wetland vegetation in the IWC. The method is based on assessing wetland ecological vegetation classes (EVCs).
- List of water and salinity regime preferences and bioregional conservation significance for wetland EVCs
Connectivity is an important consideration in the management of wetlands as it:
- provides opportunities for both native and introduced species to expand their range and migrate in response to local and regional changes in habitat conditions
- helps species recolonise following local extinction events
- Increases genetic diversity by promoting the spread of genes more widely throughout populations.
The Arthur Rylah Institute has modelled patterns of wetland connectivity for waterbirds, amphibians and wind-dispersed plant seed. The 'Wetland connectivity spatial data: user's guide. Version 1 ' describes how to use the connectivity model outputs provided in the spatial data layers to better target management interventions to wetlands. Spatial data can be obtained on request by emailing email@example.com
The following reports describe the work to date and are available from the Arthur Rylah Institute publications page.
- Morris, K., Ferwerda, F. and Papas, P. (2012) Wetland connectivity models. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research Technical Report Series No. 241. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Heidelberg, Victoria
- Morris, K. (2012) Wetland connectivity: understanding the dispersal of organisms that occur in Victoria's wetlands. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research Technical Report Series No. 225. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Heidelberg, Victoria
Wetland assessment and monitoring
Index of Wetland Condition
Victoria's Index of Wetland Condition (IWC) assessment procedure is used to assess the condition of Victoria's wetlands. More information about the Index of Wetland Condition is available on the About ICS and Publications pages of the Index of Condition System website.
Method for long-term monitoring of wetlands
The 'Method for the long-term monitoring of wetlands in Victoria' details an efficient and affordable method to monitor changes in the extent, water regime and vegetation cover of wetlands in Victoria.
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