|Location||Australia, New South Wales (and ACT)|
|Central coordinates||147o 37.74' East 30o 55.92' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i|
|Altitude||130 - 190m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2009|
Summary The IBA has supported more than 1% of the global populations of the endangered Australasian Bittern and the congregatory White-necked Heron, Intermediate Egret, Nankeen Night-Heron, Australian White Ibis, Straw-necked Ibis and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. The IBA also supports a population of the near threatened Diamond Firetail.
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).
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Australian Ibis Threskiornis moluccus||resident||1978-2005||6,700 nests||unknown||A4i||Least Concern|
|Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis||resident||1987-2005||55,000 nests||unknown||A4i||Least Concern|
|Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus||resident||1998-2008||4 individuals||-||A1||Endangered|
|Mesophoyx intermedia||resident||1978-2005||20,200 nests||unknown||A4i||Not Recognised|
|Rufous Night-heron Nycticorax caledonicus||resident||1978-2005||15,500 nests||unknown||A4i||Least Concern|
|White-necked Heron Ardea pacifica||unknown||1983-2005||2,304 individuals||unknown||A4i||Least Concern|
|Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata||non-breeding||1983-2005||3,000 individuals||unknown||A4i||Least Concern|
|2013||high||not assessed||not assessed|
|Agricultural expansion and intensification||livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin||happening now||majority/most of area/population (50-90%)||no or imperceptible deterioration||low|
|Natural system modifications||dams & water management/use - abstraction of surface water (unknown use)||happening now||some of area/population (10-49%)||moderate to rapid deterioration||high|
|Natural system modifications||fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity||happening now||some of area/population (10-49%)||slow but significant deterioration||medium|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Macquarie Marshes||Nature Reserve||19,550||protected area contained by site||18,192|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Wetlands (inland)||Permanent herbaceous swamps & bogs; Riverine floodplains; Rivers & streams||major|
Land ownership Private and state government (New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service).
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||10%|
Protection status The IBA includes the Macquarie Marshes Nature Reserve.
Acknowledgements Richard Kingsford commented on the nomination.
References Brock, P. (Ed.) (1997) Macquarie Marshes Land and Water Management Plan. Macquarie Marshes Management Committee: Dubbo.
Brooker, M. G. (1992) Waterbirds of the Macquarie Marshes. Unpublished report to New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service: Hurstville.
Brock, P. (ed.) (1997) Macquarie Marshes Land and Water Management Plan. Macquarie Marshes Management Committee, Dubbo.
Brooker, M.G. (1992) Waterbirds of Macquarie Marshes. Unpublished report to New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville.
Brookhouse, P. (1999) Macquarie Marshes Nature Reserve Fire Management Plan 2000-2004. New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville.
Kingsford, R. and Auld, K. (2002) Unpublished data in Morris, A.K. (2002) New South Wales Annual Bird Report for 2000. Australian Birds 33: 1-75.
Kingsford, R. T. and Johnson, W. (1998) Impact of water diversions on colonially-nesting waterbirds in the Macquarie Marshes of arid Australia. Colonial Waterbirds 21: 159-170.
Kingsford, R. and Porter, J. (2006) Eastern Australian aerial survey database. Accessed 2008.
Kingsford, R. T. and Thomas, R. F. (1995) The Macquarie Marshes in arid Australia and their waterbirds: a 50-year history of decline. Environmental Management 19: 867-878.
Morris, A. K. and Burton, (1999) New South Wales Annual Bird Report for 1996. Australian Birds 31: 86-137.
NSW NPWS (1999) Macquarie Marshes Nature Reserve Plan of Management. New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service: Hurstville.
Contribute Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.
Recommended citation BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Macquarie Marshes. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 04/05/2015
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife