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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
New South Wales Minister for the Environment
Mr Robert Debus

18 November 2002

NSW Wetland Achieves International Status

Fivebough and Tuckerbil Swamps, near Leeton in NSW, have been designated as internationally important under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the world's peak wetland conservation treaty.

The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and the New South Wales Minister for the Environment, Bob Debus, today congratulated The Fivebough and Tuckerbil Wetlands Management Trust Inc. for their hard work in securing the designation.

"The designation will be announced this week at the Eighth Ramsar Conference of Contracting Parties in Valencia, Spain, and will acknowledge the international significance of the Swamps," Dr Kemp said.

"Fivebough and Tuckerbil Swamps are important waterbird habitat and breeding areas set within an agricultural landscape. The wetlands provide feeding and resting grounds for migrating waterbirds, and support more than 83 bird species including the Glossy Ibis, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Whiskered Tern, Brolga and the globally vulnerable Australasian Bittern. The wetlands are also used for flood mitigation during periods of heavy rainfall and parts are leased for grazing and sewage treatment.

"In times such as these, when drought significantly affects our land, Fivebough Swamp is a refuge for birds and other fauna as it retains water year round. The largest populations of Whiskered Tern and Glossy Ibis in Australia have been observed at the site."

Mr Debus said that the site is not only a refuge for thousands of birds but is also an area of significant cultural and educational value. "Fivebough and Tuckerbil Swamps have significant cultural value to the local Wiradjuri people and are used by local schools as a study resource," Mr Debus said.

"I commend The Fivebough and Tuckerbil Wetlands Management Trust Inc. for their hard work and commitment to the conservation and wise use of wetlands and congratulate them on their exceptional achievement," Dr Kemp said.

"The designation of this site increases the number of Ramsar sites in NSW to 10, and will ensure the protection of 689 hectares of ecologically significant land for future generations.

"Wetlands are vital parts of a healthy river system, helping to reduce sediment and nutrient loads as well as providing a breeding ground for birds, frogs, tortoises and other fauna."

The Convention on Wetlands was signed in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971. It is the oldest international conservation agreement to promote the concept of sustainable use. The Convention has 133 Contracting Parties, with 1,200 wetland sites, totalling 103.3 million hectares worldwide. The theme of the Eighth Conference is 'Wetlands: Water, Life and Culture'.

The Australian Government has also announced an extension to an existing Ramsar site, and the designation of five other wetlands to the List of Wetlands of International Importance, increasing the total number of Australian Ramsar sites from 57 to 63. The new site designations include four sites managed by the Commonwealth Government - Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve, Coral Sea Reserves, Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve and The Dales (Christmas Island) and one site on private land in South Australia - Banrock Station Wetland Complex. The existing Kooragang Ramsar site was extended to include Shortland Wetlands, and is renamed the Hunter Estuary Wetlands.

For more information on wetlands and high resolution images please visit and for more information on the Ramsar Convention please visit

Media contacts:
Catherine Job (Dr Kemp's office) 02 6277640 or 0408 648 400
Kate Meagher (Mr Debus's office) 02 9995 6500

Related Information

Commonwealth of Australia