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Nationally (DIWA) and internationally important (Ramsar) wetlands

The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (known as the Ramsar Convention) was adopted in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. The convention aims to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and to conserve remaining wetlands through wise use and careful management. The Ramsar Convention encourages the designation of sites containing representative, rare or unique wetlands, or wetlands that are important for conserving biological diversity. Australia was one of the first signatories.

Moreton Bay Photo by Queensland Government

Quick facts

Ramsar convention

The Ramsar Convention has over 2000 Ramsar sites covering over 200 million hectares of wetlands and associated habitats.



The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)—called the 'Ramsar Convention'—is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies the commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance and to plan for the 'wise use', or sustainable use, of all of the wetlands in their territories.[1]

Internationally important wetlands can be nominated under the Ramsar Convention. There are 5 Ramsar sites listed in Queensland:

As a signatory, Australia is required to develop an ecological character description for each site, maintain that character and notify the Convention of any changes.

It can be used to:

  • assess changes in the ecological character of the site
  • design a monitoring program to detect changes in ecological character
  • develop and implement a management plan to maintain the ecological character of the site
  • assess the likely impact on ecological character of proposed actions as required under the Environmental Protection and Biological Conservation Act 1999.

Ecological character descriptions for the Queensland sites are being prepared.

Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention are also required to provide a Ramsar Information Sheet (RIS) for all sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance. Parties to the Convention also have a commitment to provide updated RIS information for all of their Ramsar sites at intervals of six years, or when there are any significant changes in the sites' ecological character. The RIS is designed to provide a brief synopsis of the essential data on the Ramsar-listed wetland and defines the boundary of the site and its ecological character under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Get an overview of Queensland's Ramsar sites, including their Ramsar Information Sheets, using WetlandSummary.

The roles and responsibilities relating to Ramsar sites are listed in Wetlands in Australia – roles and responsibilities - Fact sheet.

Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia (DIWA)

The Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia (DIWA) contains information about wetlands that have been assessed as meeting criteria for national importance.

DIWA has some limitations including:

  • the process for identification of wetlands was not systematically conducted across Queensland and consequently many wetlands that would meet the criteria were not included
  • the mapping methodologies used were variable (as wetland mapping data did not exist at the time DIWA was compiled) including both aggregation mapping and the use of point data were used to describe where wetlands might exist but could not be accurately mapped
  • the fact that DIWA was compiled over several decades and information contained within the database might be out of date or the values may no longer exist.

View a full list of Queensland's DIWA wetlands using WetlandSummary.

The complete DIWA Third Edition is available for download.

Wetland on-line education modules

A series of on-line education modules, including the Ramsar Convention in Queensland, has been prepared as a resource for people who want to learn more about wetlands.

Users can download and use the contents of this education module to meet their learning and training needs. This information should be used in conjunction with information found on this website.

Additional information


  1. ^ Ramsar Convention on Wetlands 1971, The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat, <>.

Last updated: 18 November 2015

This page should be cited as:

Nationally (DIWA) and internationally important (Ramsar) wetlands , WetlandInfo 2013, Department of Environment and Science, Queensland, viewed 11 February 2019, <>.

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science