|Location||Australia, Western Australia|
|Central coordinates||115o 24.83' East 33o 37.44' South|
|Altitude||0 - 5m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2008|
Summary The Busselton Wetlands IBA regularly holds large numbers of waterbirds, including more than 1% of the global populations of Banded Stilt and Red-necked Avocet, occasionally more than 1% of the global populations of Australian Shelduck and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, and regularly more than 1% of the Australian population of Black-winged Stilt (=White-headed Stilt).
Site description The Busselton Wetlands are a chain of coastal wetlands that stretch approximately 25 kilometres east and west of Busselton along Geographe Bay. The IBA consists of the Vasse and Wonnerup lagoons and the Broadwater. These are part of an extensively modified wetland system, now comprising an extensive, shallow (less than 1 m deep), nutrient-enriched wetland system with widely varying salinities, comprised of primarily open water fringed by samphire, rushes, flooded pastures and paperbark trees. Water levels in its two principal components, the Vasse and Wonnerup estuaries (now functioning as lagoons), are managed through the use of flood gates, with the aim of minimising flooding of adjoining lands and largely excluding seawater. Large portions of these lagoons often dry out in summer, and water quality decreases as higher temperatures and eutrophic inflows allow large phytoplankton blooms, and salinity increases as water levels drop. The Broadwater is a low-lying lagoon which fills with water over the wet winter months, and has fringing freshwater swamps. New River and associated waterways between the Broadwater and Vasse-Wonnerup have not been included in the IBA as they support low numbers of waterbirds, but they may be important for the hydrological intregrity of the system. Busselton is one of Australia's fastest developing urban areas and the IBA’s proximity to residential, farming and tourism areas presents a range of threats, management issues and opportunities. The IBA overlaps with the Vasse-Wonnerup Ramsar site but also includes the Broadwater.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Australian Shelduck Tadorna tadornoides||non-breeding||1986-2008||1,548-6,108 individuals||medium||A4i||Least Concern|
|Himantopus leucocephalus||non-breeding||1986-2008||3,290-5,000 individuals||medium||A4i||Not Recognised|
|Banded Stilt Cladorhynchus leucocephalus||non-breeding||1986-2008||4,000 individuals||medium||A4i||Least Concern|
|Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae||non-breeding||1986-2008||1,915-4,000 individuals||medium||A4i||Least Concern|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Broadwater||Nature Reserve||80||protected area contained by site||80|
|Sabina||Nature Reserve||102||protected area contained by site||46|
|Tuart Forest||National Park||2,049||protected area overlaps with site||9|
|Un-named (No. 41568)||Nature Reserve||21||protected area contained by site||21|
|Un-named (No. 44838)||Nature Reserve||32||protected area contained by site||32|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Artificial - terrestrial||Improved grassland & pasture||minor|
Land ownership Parts of five protected areas (managed by DEC), freehold land and unallocated Crown Land (managed by the Shire of Busselton).
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||major|
|Notes: Some grazing on freehold land.|
|Notes: An important area for flood protection for Busselton.|
Other biodiversity Other native species include Water Rat, Brown Bandicoot, Western Ringtail Possum, Western Grey Kangaroo, Tiger Snake, Long-necked Tortoise, Squelching Froglet, Lea’s Froglet, Motorbike Frog, Banjo Frog and Moaning Frog. No nationally rare, threatened or endemic wetland plants have been recorded at the site. Problematic exotic plants such as Bulrush (Typha orientalis) and Arum Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) have become established in and around Sabina and Abba Rivers, which feed into the wetland.
Protection status Several - see separate section.
Access/Land-Owner requests Access to the IBA is variable. Estuarine marshland and tidal floodplain are largely on private land. Information regarding public access is available through the Department of Environment and Conservation for the Vasse and Wonnerup Lagoons, and the Shire of Busselton for the Broadwater. A number of access points for walkers and cyclists are provided on the Busselton Wetlands Trails.
Acknowledgements Comments and bird counts have been contributed by Birds Australia WA volunteer observers; Bernie Masters and the Busselton Naturalists' Club volunteers; Peter Taylor and Sue Abbotts; Bruce and Anne Buchanan; and Kim Onton and colleagues at the Department of Environment and Conservation.
References Bamford, A.R. and Bamford, M.J. (1994) Study of the use by waterbirds of the floodplains of the Vasse and Wonnerup Estuaries: Phase 1 Report. Como, Western Australia: Department of Conservation and Land Management.
Bamford, M.J. and Bamford, A.R. (1995) Waterbirds of the floodplains of the Vasse and Wonnerup Estuaries: patterns of usage and the effects of disturbance. Final report to Department of Conservation and Land Management.
DEWHA (2008) A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia. Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands (RIS) for Vasse - Wonnerup System Western Australia and The Broadwater - NSW036. Downloaded from http://www.environment.gov.au/water/publications/environmental/wetlands/database/ on November 2007.
Gole, C., Taylor, P. and Abbotts, S. (2008) Bird surveys of the Busselton Wetlands. Western Australian Bird Notes 125: 1-3.
Jaensch R.P., Vervest, R.M. and Hewish M.J. (1988) Waterbirds in Nature Reserves of south-western Australia, 1981-1985: Reserve accounts. RAOU Report No. 30. Melbourne: RAOU.
Lane, J.A.K., Clarke A.G., Pearson G.B. and Winchcombe, Y.C. (2007) Waterbirds of the Vasse Wonnerup wetlands in 1998-2000, including Ramsar status and comparisons with earlier data. Busselton, Western Australia: Department of Environment and Conservation.
Western Australian Planning Commission (2005) Busselton Wetlands Conservation Strategy. Perth: Western Australian Planning Commission.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Busselton Wetlands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/09/2014
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