Joint media release: Caryapundy Swamp to be listed as a wetland of international importance

19 December 2021

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
Matt Kean MP, NSW Treasurer and Minister for Energy and Environment 

The Caryapundy Swamp in far north west NSW is to be listed as an internationally important wetland under the global 1971 Ramsar Convention, coinciding with its 50th anniversary.

Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the Ramsar Convention promotes the conservation of marshes, billabongs, mangroves, coral reefs and other bodies of water that are internationally recognised as critical habitats for migratory species, native species, and ecological communities.

“Australia was the first country to list a Ramsar site and now, the listing of Caryapundy brings our total number of sites to 67, covering approximately 8.37 million hectares, an area greater than Scotland or Tasmania,” Minister Ley said.

“Caryapundy is the first Ramsar site in the Bulloo Drainage Basin, which plays a critical role for species like the Australasian Shoveler, Grey Teal and Red-necked Avocet which use the site as a drought refuge.”

In times of flood, more than 100,000 birds are known to congregate at the site and surrounding wetlands, including migratory birds on their way to overwinter in southern Australia.

“The Morrison Government is committed to protecting wetlands like Caryapundy, recognising their important habitat and ecosystem functions, diverse social and cultural services and biodiversity benefits,” Minister Ley added.

“Earlier this year I announced the first National Wetlands Inventory, which brings scientists, wetland managers and the latest technology together to better support these crucial ecosystems.”

NSW Environment Minister, Matt Kean, said this is the first nomination for listing by NSW in more than a decade and will see the 70,000-hectare Caryapundy Swamp become a Wetland of International Importance.

“The listing as a Ramsar site brings Caryapundy Swamp into the global network of more than 2,400 wetlands, which protect over 254.6 million hectares of critical waterbird habitat worldwide,” Mr Kean said.  

“This convention is the global gold standard for wetland conservation and will shine an international spotlight on the area driving economic opportunities, including tourism, for the local community.

“This application is the result of close collaboration between NSW and the Commonwealth, as well as consultation with Aboriginal stakeholders and traditional owners on the significant cultural values the region has.

“It is a truly remarkable place where in wet years, the Bulloo River floods out on Narriearra, terminating in the huge and spectacular temporary wetlands of Caryapundy Swamp.”

Caryapundy Swamp is situated within the recently acquired 153,844 hectare Narriearra Caryapundy Swamp National Park, in the Channel Country of far north west NSW. 

In 2020 the NSW Government purchased Narriearra Station, the largest in NSW history.

Caryapundy Swamp supports rare and threatened species, including shorebirds listed under international agreements that migrate thousands of kilometres from the northern hemisphere.