Macquarie Marshes 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: 237,802 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
The IBA is the maximum extent of the recent (1990) flood of the Macquarie Marshes, which lie on the Macquarie River in northern New South Wales. This over-estimates the area flooded in most recent years but could be achieved with adequate water allocations. The IBA includes the main channel of the Macquarie River and the anastomosing channels of Bora Channel, Buckiinguy Creek, Bulgeraga Creek, Gum Cowal, Marra Creek, Marthaguy Creek, Monkey Creek, Monkeygar Creek, Terrigal Creek. Daily temperatures in the region vary from about 4°C in July to about 36°C in January, and average annual rainfall is 300-400 mm. The area of the marshes varies depending on the degree of inundation, with a recent maximum of about 131,000 ha in 1990, much lower than the historical maximum of 478,000 ha over the same area in the mid-1950s. In recent years, flooding has been much less frequent and less extensive, with just one major flooding event in 2000/1. The marshes are a freshwater system of channels and streams, some of which have been rendered permanent following construction of water regulation devices, and semi-permanent and ephemeral swamps and floodplains. The marshes support a variety of vegetation types, but the more prominent communities include River Red Gum forest and woodland, extensive beds of Common Reed, and meadows of Water Couch.

Key biodiversity
A minimum 206 species of bird have been recorded in the Macquarie Marshes (NSW NPWS 2007). This figure includes more than 60 species of waterbird, at least 43 of which breed in the marshes (Brooker 1992; Brock 1997; Brookhouse 1999). The marshes are predicted to support over 190,000 waterbirds during major floods (Kingsford et al. 1997), including large numbers of breeding birds. For example, in 2000, there were breeding colonies of Glossy Ibis (3900 nests), Straw-necked Ibis (31,225 nests), Intermediate Egret (20,200 nests), Nankeen Night-Heron (15,500 nests), Great Egret (1300 pairs), Australian White Ibis (2940 nests), Little Egret (100 nests) and Royal Spoonbill (76 nests) (Kingsford & Auld 2002). There have not been any prolific waterbird nesting events in the IBA since 2000-2001. The marshes have supported large numbers of waterfowl, e.g. 60,000 waterfowl were counted on the northern quarter of the marshes by Kingsford (1996), 3500 Pacific Black Duck were counted on the marshes in 1997 (Kingsford et al. 1997) and 5652 Caspian Tern in 1983 (Kingsford and Porter (2006)). Other notable species which have been recorded in the IBA include Australian Little Bittern, Australian Painted Snipe, Superb Parrot, Painted Honeyeater, Pied Honeyeater and Diamond Firetail (Atlas of Australian Birds database).

Non-bird biodiversity: At least eight native and six introduced species of mammal in the Macquarie Marshes, together with 56 species of reptile, 15 species of frog and 16 species of freshwater fish (Brock 1997).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Macquarie Marshes. Downloaded from on 06/07/2020.