Fitzgerald River

Country/territory: Australia

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2009)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 292,771 ha

Protection status:

BirdLife Australia
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2008 high not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
The IBA consists of the nine management units which form the Fitzgerald River Management Zone, located approximately 200 km west of Esperance on the south coast of Western Australia. The nine management units are Quaalup, Calyerup Rock, Fitzgerald Inlet, Twertup-Fitzgerald Track, Woolbernup, Short Road-Drummond Track, Eastern Range, West River and Cocanarup, the last a Timber Reserve wholly outside the National Park but also managed by the Department of Environment and Conservation. Each unit supports Western Bristlebird and also provide foraging or breeding habitat for Carnaby's Black-Cockatoo. The Fitzgerald River region has a Mediterranean climate with cool and damp winters and warm to hot summers with erratic rainfall; inland areas have a mean annual rainfall of less than 400 mm. The IBA captures a diverse range of landforms and habitats including upland plains; a marine plain scoured by several rivers, which in places form valleys with spongelite cliffs; a series of low quarzite hills, forests, woodlands and heathlands, ephemeral swamplands and lakes, coastal cliffs and dunes, estuaries and inlets. The national park is the largest protected area on the south coast of Western Australia and is especially important for its heathland birds and plants.

Key biodiversity
At least 184 species of birds have been recorded in the IBA (Moore et al. 1991). The IBA supports one of only two sizeable populations of the critically endangered subspecies Western Ground Parrot, estimated at less than 85 birds in 2006 (Gilfillan et al. 2007). Annual summer counts of Hooded Plover from Beaufort Inlet (30-40km west of the IBA) to Hopetoun, ranged from 15-150 birds in 2003-2007 (Birds Australia Western Australia Hooded Plover Surveys). Culham Inlet, which is at the eastern boundary of the IBA, has supported large numbers of waterbirds, including a single very high estimate of 44,000 Banded Stilt in October 1986, a count of 5000 Banded Stilt in October 1985 (Watkins 1993; Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union Waterbird Usage Survey), counts of up to 9307 Eurasian Coot and 900 Red-necked Avocet, and counts of up to 10,476 waterfowl, including up to 4650 Australian Shelduck (Halse et al. 1995; Lane and Lynch 1996; M. Bremner pers. comm.). Fitzgerald Inlet, associated marshland and some nearby wetlands, all of which lie within the IBA, have also supported notable numbers of waterfowl (maximum count 5812 in March 1991), including high numbers of Chestnut Teal (i.e. counts of 790 on the lower reaches of Fitzgerald River and 1550 on nearby 'Charles Bay Lake' in March 1991), and a count of 1212 Australian Shelduck at Fitzgerald Inlet (Lane and Lynch 1996). With more surveys along greater stretches of this IBA, these species may prove to regularly exceed 1% of world populations.

Non-bird biodiversity: The IBA is a noted hot spot for floral diversity with more than 1800 species of flowering plants and a wide range of lichens, mosses and fungi. These represent approximately 20% of all endemic floral species found in Western Australia. The flora of the IBA includes about 250 species which are rare or geographically restricted, including 62 species that are confined to Fitzgerald River National Park, and another 48 species that are virtually confined to Fitzgerald River National Park. The IBA also supports at least four species of inland fish, 12 species of frog, 41 species of reptile and 19 species of native mammal. Several species of native fauna which occur in the IBA are considered to be threatened at state or national level (Department of Environment and Conservation 2008; Moore et al. 1991).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Fitzgerald River. Downloaded from on 27/01/2021.