Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site Ecological Character Description

Kellogg, Brown & Root Pty Ltd, 2011

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

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 (Ramsar site). The Ecological Character Description is a fundamental management tool for site managers, forming the basis of management planning and action as well as including guidance on site monitoring requirements to detect changes in the ecological character of the site.

The Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site is located in northern Victoria, approximately 300 km north-west of Melbourne. The site is comprised of 23 separate lakes that vary significantly in size, maximum depths, salinity levels and associations with surface water systems. Ten nationally and/or internationally listed threatened species are supported by the Ramsar site. The lakes are also known to regularly support 20 000 waterbirds and at least 1% of the population of the banded stilt, as well as a range of species at critical life stages (breeding, migration and moulting). The site meets six of the nine Ramsar Convention criteria.

The ecological character of a wetland is the sum of all the critical components, processes and services of that wetland. Ecosystem components are physical, chemical and biological parts of a wetland, from large-scale to very small-scale (e.g. habitat, species and genes). Ecosystem processes are the dynamic forces within an ecosystem. They include all those processes that occur between organisms and within and between populations and communities, including interactions with the non-living environment that result in existing ecosystems and bring about changes in ecosystems over time. Ecosystem services are the benefits that people receive from ecosystems.

This document describes the critical components, processes and services for the Kerang Wetlands Ramsar site and identifies limits of acceptable change and knowledge gaps in relation to those critical components, processes and services. The Ecological Character Description also describes the relevant Ramsar listing criteria and key threats for the Ramsar site. Recommended monitoring needs and communication messages are provided.

Further information

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.

For more information on identifying and notifying change in ecological character, please refer to

A factsheet is also available on limits of acceptable change.