Understand why South Australia’s Coorong and Lower Lakes are so important

Understand why South Australia’s Coorong and Lower Lakes are so important



It’s been 35 years since the Coorong and Low­er Lakes became Ram­sar-list­ed. Learn why this wet­land is so important.


You might have heard that South Australia’s Coorong and Lakes Alexan­d­ri­na and Albert cel­e­brates 35 years as a Ram­sar-list­ed wet­land this month.

But do you know much about the area’s inter­na­tion­al eco­log­i­cal importance.

About the site

Locat­ed 200km south east of Ade­laide, the 140,500ha site con­sists of the two lakes and the trib­u­taries of the Finniss Riv­er and Cur­ren­cy Creek which form a wet­land sys­tem at the mouth of the Mur­ray River.

All of the land and water with­in the Coorong Nation­al Park, includ­ing the Younghus­band Penin­su­la and the ocean beach to low water mark, also forms part of the site.

What makes this site so important?

The Coorong and Low­er Lakes are inter­na­tion­al­ly recog­nised for sup­port­ing rare and endan­gered plants and ani­mals, as well as sig­nif­i­cant pop­u­la­tions of water­bird and fish species.

It sup­ports the great­est wealth of water­bird species in the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin. It hosts impor­tant nest­ing colonies of cor­morants, plovers, ibis­es and terns, and also sup­ports glob­al­ly endan­gered species such as the orange-bel­lied par­rot and the Mur­ray cod.

And what makes it even more spe­cial is that the site comes with enor­mous cul­tur­al sig­nif­i­cance. It is the Tra­di­tion­al lands of the Ngar­rind­jeri and is part of the liv­ing body of the Ngar­rind­jeri Nation.

The region also sup­ports local com­mu­ni­ties and indus­tries, which include agri­cul­ture, viti­cul­ture, fish­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing and tourism.

What is Ramsar-listing?

The Ram­sar Con­ven­tion is an inter­na­tion­al agree­ment that aims to halt and, where pos­si­ble, reverse the loss of wet­lands around the world. It is named after the city of Ram­sar in Iran, where the Con­ven­tion was signed in 1971.

The agree­ment seeks to con­serve the remain­ing wet­lands through wise use and edu­ca­tion about their val­ue and importance.

As part of the Ram­sar Con­ven­tion, con­tract­ing par­ties make a com­mit­ment to:

  • des­ig­nate at least one site that meets the Ram­sar cri­te­ria for inclu­sion in the List of Wet­lands of Inter­na­tion­al Importance
  • pro­mote the con­ser­va­tion and wise use of wetlands
  • include wet­land con­ser­va­tion with­in their nation­al land-use planning
  • estab­lish nature reserves on wet­lands and pro­mote wet­land train­ing, and
  • con­sult with oth­er con­tract­ing par­ties about the imple­men­ta­tion of the Ram­sar Convention.

The Coorong and Lakes Alexan­d­ri­na and Albert were des­ig­nat­ed as site num­ber 321 under the Con­ven­tion on 1 Novem­ber 1985.

How does Ram­sar-list­ing help a spe­cial site like the Coorong and Low­er Lakes?

Ram­sar list­ing rais­es the inter­na­tion­al pro­file of a site. For the Coorong and Low­er Lakes, it has meant increased col­lab­o­ra­tion across all lev­els of gov­ern­ment to improve long-term man­age­ment of the wet­land as well as increased leg­isla­tive pro­tec­tion through the Com­mon­wealth Envi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion and Bio­di­ver­si­ty Con­ser­va­tion Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Want to explore this inter­na­tion­al­ly sig­nif­i­cant site? Check out ourtips from Coorong Nation­al Park Ranger Tim Hart­manand ourguide to spend­ing a day in the park.


This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living