email a friend
printable version
Location Australia, Victoria
Central coordinates 141o 30.37' East  36o 33.40' South
IBA criteria A1
Area 135,593 ha
Altitude 100 - 220m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary The IBA supports populations of the vulnerable Malleefowl and the near threatened Diamond Firetail.

Site description The IBA is nearly identical to Little Desert National Park, which is situated 375 km north-west of Melbourne. The IBA also includes a contiguous area of uncleared native vegetation outside of the park, east of the Wimmera River. The park is one of three IBAs in western Victoria (the others being Wyperfeld, Big Desert & Ngarkat, and Murray-Sunset, which lie farther north), which are designed to capture large areas of contiguous and comparatively undisturbed mallee habitat. The park is situated on sandy soils of low natural fertility (named Lowan Sands), which support a range of vegetation associations including heathlands, mallee woodlands and shrublands (including mallee-broombush communities), Yellow Gum communities, Black Box and Desert Stringybark woodlands, and open forest. Little Desert NP experiences a warm, dry climate; at the nearby township of Nhill, mean maximum temperatures range from 13.7 Celsius in July to 29.7 Celsius in January and mean annual rainfall is about 410 mm.

Key Biodiversity At least 229 species of bird have been recorded in Little Desert National Park. This includes small numbers of the following IBA species: Bush Stone-curlew, Flame Robin, Purple-gaped Honeyeater, Painted Honeyeater and Black Honeyeater, which are not believed to occur in significant numbers. It also supports the following subspecies listed as threatened by Garnett and Crowley (2000): Brown Treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus victoriae), Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina ashbyi), Black-chinned Honeyeater (Melithreptus gularis gularis), Slender-billed Thornbill (Acanthiza iredalei hedleyi), Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata cucullate), Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne) and Barking Owl (Ninox connivens connivens). The park also supports regionally significant populations of Rufous Fieldwren, Shy Heathwren, Southern Scrub-robin and Gilbert's Whistler. The near threatened Australian Bustard is another regionally significant species, which has occasionally been recorded in the IBA (Little Desert NP lies at the southern limit of the bustard's documented range).

Non-bird biodiversity: More than 280 native fauna species have been recorded in Little Desert National Park. Notable mammals include Silky Mouse, Western Pygmy Possum and Fat-tailed Dunnart. Little Desert NP represents the south-eastern limit of the Western Bluetongue (Tiliqua occipitalis) and Bardick (Echiopsis curda), and supports an isolated population of Delicate Skink (Lampropholis delicata).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Malleefowl Leipoa ocellata resident  10-20 breeding pairs  good  A1  Vulnerable 
Diamond Firetail Stagonopleura guttata resident  1998-2008  uncommon  A1  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2014 very high not assessed not assessed
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Little Desert National Park 132,647 protected area contained by site 132,647  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Eucalypt low open forests  major
Grassland Tussock grasslands  minor
Shrubland Chenopod shrubs, samphire shrubs and forblands; Closed shrublands & low closed woodlands; Mallee shrublands & woodlands  major

Land ownership Victorian State Government with management by Parks Victoria.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%

Protection status Little Desert National Park.

Access/Land-Owner requests Public access is available to the park.

Acknowledgements The nomination was written by Tim Dolby assisted by:- Friends of Little Desert National Park: contact Parks Victoria Ranger Malcolm Pye (03) 5389 0200 and Victorian Malleefowl Recovery Group, Joe Benshemesh.

References Barrett, G., Silcocks, A., Barry, S., Cunningham, R. and Poulter, R. (2003) The new atlas of Australian birds. Melbourne: Birds Australia.

Benshemesh, J. (1995) Monitoring malleefowl in north-west Victoria: 1994 - 95. Mildura, Victoria: Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Benshemesh, J. (2005) National recovery plan for Malleefowl 2006-2010. Adelaide: Department for Environment and Heritage.

DCNR (1995) Threatened fauna in Victoria. Melbourne: Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

DNRE (1996) Little Desert National Park management plan. Melbourne: Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Garnett, S.T. and Crowley G.M. (2000) The action plan for Australian birds 2000. Canberra: Environment Australia.

Jones, D., McLean, A.J. and Grant, S. (2006) The Malleefowl of Little Desert. Two decades of observations by Raymond (Whimpey) Reichelt OAM. A report for Little Desert Flora and Fauna Foundation Inc. Queensland: Suburban Wildlife Research Group, Australian School of Environmental Studies, Griffith University.

Marchant, S. and Higgins, P.J., eds (1993) Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds. Volume 2: raptors to lapwings. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

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 (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Little Desert. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife