Gwydir Wetlands This is an IBA in danger! 

Country/territory: Australia

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4i (2009)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 102,120 ha

Protection status:

BirdLife Australia
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2019 very high very unfavourable low
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
This IBA consists of the inland drainage basin of the Gwydir River that splits into the Gingham (northern) and the Big Leather (southern) water courses - during flood times these form a wetland of over 100,000 ha about 45 km west of Moree. These extensive wetland areas are a particularly good example of an inland terminal delta, located along the watercourses where flat, overland grades allow shallow extensive flooding over large areas of the floodplain. Water extends for approximately 95 km through a series of natural and constructed channels and swamps (NPWS unpublished). As a result, intermittent semi-permanent wetlands have developed. Prior to the construction of the Copeton Dam (a 1364 Gigalitre dam approximately 90 km downstream of the headwaters of the Gwydir River), the Gwydir catchment could have been described as an inland delta or a closed system. Since the building of the dam, water flows have been controlled by NSW State Government water authorities to the detriment of the wetlands. Despite the consequent contraction of wetland areas from about 100,000ha to 10,000ha, it is still considered to be one of the most significant and most valuable waterbird breeding area in Australia. Windella, Crinolyn, Old Dromana and Goddard's Lease are four small wetlands listed as a 823 hectare Ramsar site, which are well outside the main waterbird breeding area but provide vital feeding areas for the breeding birds. Waterbird nesting colonies are usually confined to areas surrounding permanent waterholes such as the Gingham Waterhole.

Key biodiversity
Australian Painted Snipe and Painted Honeyeater have been recorded here, but not yet in sufficient numbers to meet IBA thresholds, and the status of the biome-restricted Pied Honeyeater and Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush is unknown. The NSW Bird Atlas has recorded 237 bird species within the wetlands of which 169 species have been recorded breeding. Over 1500 Glossy Ibis, 280 Royal Spoonbill and 80 Yellow-billed Spoonbill have been recorded. In December 1995, 2000 pairs of Little Egrets and 5000 pairs of Great Egrets (Morris & Burton 1997).

Non-bird biodiversity: 53 species of reptiles, 18 native frogs, 16 native mamamls and 15 bat species have been recorded with at least 12 being threatened.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Gwydir Wetlands. Downloaded from on 12/07/2020.