Wetlands are a critical part of our natural environment and have environmental, cultural, social and economic value. The Ramsar Convention is an international intergovernmental treaty which provides a framework for the conservation and wise use of designated wetland ecosystems throughout the world. Australia is a signatory and has 65 Ramsar listed sites, 11 of which are in Victoria.
This audit reviewed how effectively Victoria’s Ramsar wetlands are managed and whether Victoria is meeting its national and international obligations. We reviewed the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) and primary site managers—Melbourne Water and Parks Victoria—who all have a role in conserving and maintaining Victoria's Ramsar sites. We also reviewed selected catchment management authorities.
The audit found there is limited evidence that all Ramsar sites are being effectively managed and protected from decline. There is also evidence of potential change in the ecological character of some sites and changes at other sites cannot be fully determined due to limitations such as a lack of data. Some projects have improved outcomes for Ramsar sites but these are not clearly linked to a Ramsar management plan.
The governance, coordination and oversight of the management of Ramsar sites must improve overall for Victoria to effectively meet its obligations. Monitoring the implementation of management plans also requires improvement. The recommendations are designed to improve gaps in governance, oversight, coordination and monitoring.