Lavinia Ramsar Site Ecological Character Description

Lloyd Environmental for 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.

The Lavinia Ramsar Site is located on the north-east coast of King Island in Bass Strait, 12 kilometres south west of the town of Naracoopa.  The site covers approximately 7034 hectares, extends 8 kilometres inland at its widest point and is mostly below 20 metres above sea level. The site contains the majority of the remaining native vegetation on King Island, under the management of the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service.

The Ecological Character Description for Lavinia describes the main ecosystem units of the Ramsar site and its components, processes and services.  The site contains a significant and diverse set of ecosystems, including a significant lagoon and wetland system, coastal and bush landscapes and a rich cultural heritage. The site is one of the few largely unaltered areas of King Island and contains much of the remaining native vegetation on King Island.

The Lavinia Ecological Character Description identifies limits of acceptable change which describe the range of variation within which key aspects of the ecology of the site may vary, without representing a change in ecological character. Limits of acceptable change for Lavinia have been proposed for all critical components, processes and benefits and services based on existing data.

The document also describes the current Ramsar listing criteria met by the site, the key threats and knowledge gaps and recommended monitoring needs and communication messages. This information will help guide future management planning to promote conservation and wise use of the wetland resources of the site.

Note: Ecological Character Descriptions include a description of limits of acceptable change in order to provide a better understanding of the ecological character of the wetland. Limits of acceptable change are defined as the variation that is considered acceptable in a particular component or process of the ecological character of the wetland, without indicating change in ecological character that may lead to a reduction or loss of the criteria for which the site was Ramsar listed.

When a limit of acceptable change is not met or has been exceeded this may require investigation to determine whether there has been a change in ecological character within the meaning of the Ramsar Convention.

The report states there had been a loss of wetland and peatland components of the site due to deliberately lit fires. However there has been recovery of vegetation across the Ramsar site following heavy rain over the period mid 2009 to late 2011. The Department of the Environment will undertake a rolling review on the status of the ecological character for this Ramsar site, in consultation with the Tasmanian Government.

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.