Interlaken Lakeside Reserve Ramsar Site Ecological Character Description

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2012

About the document

An Ecological Character Description describes the ecological character of a wetland at the time of its listing as a Wetland of International Importance. Ecological Character Descriptions are a fundamental management tool for site managers, providing the basis for management planning and action as well as including guidance on site monitoring requirements to detect changes in the ecological character of a site.

Interlaken Lakeside Reserve is a 517 hectare Ramsar wetland site located in the north-western corner of Lake Crescent in Tasmania's Central Highlands. It is approximately 20 kilometres west of the township of Tunbridge, at an altitude of about 800 metres. The site consists of approximately 180 hectares of open water, 166 hectares of dry land and 174 hectares of shallow, intermittent marsh. The northern edge of the dry land component of Interlaken Lakeside Reserve forms part of the shoreline of another freshwater lake, Lake Sorell, to the north. Both lakes are permanent shallow freshwater lakes connected by the Interlaken Canal and Kermodes Drain, and surrounded by eucalypt forest and open paddocks cleared for rough grazing. The intermittent marshes of the Ramsar site may be dried out or partially inundated depending on the season and water level in the lake.

The two lakes have a history of use as water supply for downstream settlements along the Clyde River, which exits from Lake Crescent, and for irrigation since the 1830s. The water levels in Lake Crescent and Lake Sorell and therefore of Interlaken Lakeside Reserve have a history of variability, the sources of which are both natural and man-made. This water level variability affects the inundation regime of the Ramsar wetlands in the Interlaken Lakeside Reserve and is crucial to the health and long-term integrity of the wetlands. The biota of the wetlands are adapted to intermittent inundation and can withstand periods of drying out, both seasonal and longer term.

The range of water level variability and resultant wetland drying phases is a key attribute of the limits of acceptable change for Interlaken Lakeside Reserve identified in the Ecological Character Description. There is limited baseline information for determining the range of natural variation in species diversity and composition of wetland flora species over time. This issue is addressed in the Ecological Character Description, which proposes that reference sites be monitored regularly to capture changes in components, processes, services or threats at the site, in order to evaluate any changes in its ecological character.

This information will help guide future management planning, particularly in relation to the water level inundation regime necessary to maintain the wetland ecosystems of the Interlaken Lakeside Reserve, in order to promote conservation and wise use of the wetland resources of the site.

Further information on what Ecological Character Descriptions are and how critical components, processes and services are identified is available in the National Framework and Guidance for Describing the Ecological Character of Australian Ramsar Wetlands – Module 2 of the National Guidelines for Ramsar Wetlands – Implementing the Ramsar Convention in Australia.