|Location||Australia, New South Wales (and ACT)|
|Central coordinates||149o 26.46' East 29o 19.50' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i|
|Year of IBA assessment||2009|
Summary The Gwydir Wetlands support more breeding waterbirds than any other site in Australia when they receive adequate water inflows. Over half a million nesting waterbirds have been estimated including more than 1% of the world's Rufous Night-Herons, Intermediate Egrets, Australian White Ibis and Straw-necked Ibis. The endangered Australasian Bittern has been recorded there but the current status is unknown.
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 Water extends for approximately 95 km through a series of natural and constructed channels and swamps (NPWS unpublished).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.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Australian Ibis Threskiornis moluccus||breeding||1998||125,000-160,000 individuals||medium||A4i||Least Concern|
|Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis||breeding||1998||230,000 individuals||medium||A4i||Least Concern|
|Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus||unknown||-||rare||-||A1||Endangered|
|Mesophoyx intermedia||breeding||1998||46,000 individuals||medium||A4i||Not Recognised|
|Rufous Night-heron Nycticorax caledonicus||breeding||1998||92,000-108,000 individuals||medium||A4i||Least Concern|
|2013||very high||not assessed||not assessed|
|Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases||invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species||happening now||majority/most of area/population (50-90%)||slow but significant deterioration||high|
|Natural system modifications||dams & water management/use - large dams||happening now||whole area/population (>90%)||moderate to rapid deterioration||very high|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Wetlands (inland)||Ephemeral; Riverine floodplains; Rivers & streams||major|
Land ownership Private stations including "Yarrol", "Lynworth" and parts of "Old Dromana" and "Bunoor".
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||minor|
|Notes: eg Ramsar sites|
Access/Land-Owner requests The wetlands are contained in the properties "Yarrol", "Lynworth" and parts of "Old Dromana" and "Boonoke" but the surrounding areas are important feeding areas.
Acknowledgements Thanks to Dick Cooper and Chris Brandis, NSW Bird Atlassers for compiling the nominations. Thanks also to the NSW Bird Atlassers for monitoring on three occasions; most recently November 1998 to February 1999.
References Bennett, M and Green, J. (1993) Preliminary Assessment of Gwydir Wetlands Water Needs. Department of Water Resources, Technical Services Division.
Blackburn, H. (1999) Diary of waterbird observations in the Gingham Watercourse: February-November 1998. NSW Field Ornithologists Club Inc. Newsletter: 171: 10-12.
DEWHA (2008) Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia. http://www.environment.gov.au/water/publications/environmental/wetlands/database/ accessed 2008. Gwydir Wetlands: Gingham and Lower Gwydir (Big Leather) Watercourses Ramsar Information Sheet.
Keyte, P.A. (1994) Lower Gwydir Plan of Management - 1994 to 1997. Report by NSW Department of Water Resources for the Lower Gwydir Wetland Steering Committee. Sydney.
Morris, A.K. and Burton, A. (1997) NSW Annual Bird Report 1995. Aust. Birds 30: 81-149.
McCosker, R.O. and Duggin, J.A. (1993) Gingham Watercourse Management Plan. Final Report. November 1993. Armidale: Department of Ecosystem Management, University of New England.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Gwydir Wetlands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/09/2015
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