Ramsar Wetlands

Internationally Significant Wetlands

A Ramsar site is recognised internationally for the ecological significance of its wetlands.  These wetlands are often home to migratory birds that require healthy wetland habitats in many different parts of the world.

Take the Red-necked Stint. This little wader breeds in the wetlands of coastal Siberia and Alaska (right up near the Arctic), then travels south to Southeast Asia and Australia for the summer. This worldwide traveller can be found at the Western District Lakes and Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar sites in Spring through to early Autumn. The Ramsar Convention supports the conservation of wetlands here in Australia, up in Siberia and Alaska, and all the way along migratory routes, to support this little bird to make its epic journey from the Arctic to Australia and back every year.

The Ramsar Convention provides the framework for local, regional and national actions, and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and to halt the worldwide loss of these ecosystems.

Managing Ramsar Wetlands

Corangamite CMA works with partners to manage two Ramsar sites, the Western District Lakes Ramsar site and the Port Philip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar site. These sites comprise over 55,000 hectares of Ramsar-listed wetlands.
Corangamite CMA have an obligation to maintain the ecological character of both Ramsar sites. For the Port Philip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Site this is delivered through the City to Sea Project. This project implements the Ramsar Site Management Plan, monitors and tracks trends in ecological character and supports coordination between partner agencies.
Working in partnership with other organisations and land managers, Corangamite CMA also supports on-ground works to maintain or improve the wetlands and their surrounding environment. The works include weed control, reducing pests, managing stock and awareness and education programs.
Corangamite CMA works with organisations like Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, Greening Australia, Bellarine Catchment Network, Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, Geelong Field Naturalist Club and Birdlife Australia to implement on-ground works and monitor ecological character and the effectiveness of management actions at each Ramsar site.
This project is supported by the CCMA through funding from the Victorian Government and will run until 2024.


Western District Lake Complex Ramsar Site

The Western District Lakes include nine lakes listed under the Ramsar convention. The lakes within the site include Lake Beeac, Lake Bookar, Lake Colongulac, Lake Corangamite, Lake Cundare, Lake Gnarpurt, Lake Milangil, Lake Murdeduke and Lake Terangpom.

The lakes support over 70 different species of wetland birds, and 20 species of migratory shorebird that are listed under international migratory bird agreements.

The Western District Lakes support two threatened plant species, the Salt-lake Tussock Grass and Spiny Peppercress, as well as many waterbirds, animals and fish.

You can join the birds, via this spectacular short film journeying across the lakes

Community citizen scientists volunteer their time and energy to collect valuable information about water quality, water levels, and species sightings at the lakes, this data supports the long-term management and monitoring of the Western District Lakes.

To get involved visit

Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar Site

The Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Wetlands achieved Ramsar status in 1982, and includes Lake Connewarre, Swan Bay, Mud Island, Point Wilson, Limeburners Bay, Avalon Foreshore, the Western Treatment Plant and Cheetham/Point Cook. The area provides critical habitat for thousands of migratory birds. These important Ramsar wetlands are home to 12 threatened fauna species, over 50 species of fish and the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot.

The Orange-bellied Parrot is a beautiful and remarkable bird; sadly, the population of wild Orange-bellied Parrots is extremely low. Orange-bellied Parrot populations have declined because of habitat loss and deterioration, predation from foxes and cats, disease, and issues with small population size effects and genetic impacts.

Orange-bellied Parrots are a small bird, growing no larger than 20 cm, and are native to southern Australia. Unusually for a parrot, they migrate between distinct breeding and wintering grounds, breeding on the south west coast of Tasmania and migrating to coastal mainland Australia across the hazardous Bass Strait to feed on the saltmarshes in southern Victorian and South Australia.

The Corangamite CMA, in partnership with Birdlife Australia, Zoos Victoria, Moonlight Sanctuary and Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, is delivering the Orange-bellied Parrot Protection program to protect the parrot and help identify opportunities to expand the wild population in the Corangamite region.

In 2022, 20 Orange-bellied Parrots were released into the wild at Lake Connewarre. It is hoped that establishing larger flocks of released birds will attract wild Orange-bellied Parrots and help to make their winter stay less hazardous.

Seven migrating wild Orange-bellied Parrots were seen at Lake Connewarre over last winter. Most of these spent time associating with the released birds.

The Orange-bellied Parrot population has undergone record growth over the last couple of years; an incredible 74 Orange-bellied Parrots returned to the Tasmanian breeding site at Melaleuca in December 2022. Over half the flock were born in the wild; many of the birds were juveniles who had completed their first round-trip crossing of Bass Strait. The number of Orange-bellied Parrots that returned to their breeding grounds in 2022 was the highest recorded in over 15 years, well up on the 17 Orange Bellied Parrots recorded in 2017.

With continued intervention, there is hope that we may succeed in recovering the wild population and this unique little parrot could be a more common sight again in years to come.

This project is supported by the Corangamite CMA through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Program.

The Orange-bellied Parrot is one of 19 species targeted under the Victorian Government’s Icon Species Funding Program that focuses on protecting and managing a range of native plants and animals, threatened species and habitats through collaborative planning, increased engagement and alignment of natural resources, scientific, educational and community sectors.

Contact Us

Colac Office

64 Dennis Street, Colac VIC 3250
PO Box 159, Colac, VIC 3250
Hours: 8:30am – 5pm, Monday to Friday

T: 1800 002 262

Geelong office

Hours: 8:30am – 5pm, Monday to Friday
All mail must be sent via our Colac office
PO Box 159, Colac, VIC 3250

T: 1800 002 262