Australian Wetlands Database

Ramsar wetlands

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Toolibin Lake (also known as Lake Toolibin)

Overview

Key facts and figures:

Date of listing:

07 June 1990

Lake Toolibin and surrounds (1990), Photo: S. Halse

Australian Ramsar site number:

37

Criteria: 

1, 2, 3, 4

State/Territory:

Western Australia

Area:

493 hectares

Drainage Division or IMCRA  region:

South-West Coast

Wetland type: 

  • Xf - Freshwater, tree-dominated wetlands; includes freshwater swamp forests, seasonally flooded forests, wooded swamps on inorganic soils

Key features of the site:

The Toolibin Lake Ramsar site is located 40 km east of the town of Narrogin in the inland agricultural area of south-west Western Australia.

Toolibin Lake is a fresh brackish wetland that is perched above the water table, filling from surface run off in above-average rainfall years. The groundwater in the region has risen and become saline, and it is now within one meter of the lake bed. As the lake is above the saline groundwater, it is the only natural wetland in the bioregion that has not become saline.

Most of the lake is covered in thickets or woodlands of water tolerant tree species. The higher ground around the lake supports open eucalypt woodland, sheoaks, banksias and heathlands. There are pronounced undulations, or gilgai mounds, on the floor of the lake and many of the older tree species grow on these mounds.

Toolibin Lake is the last large Casuarina obesa dominated wetland with mostly living trees, in the inland agricultural area of south-western Australia. Wetlands of this type were formerly widespread, but the increased salinity of other wetlands have resulted in the death this type of vegetation.

Toolibin Lake is a nationally threatened ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), listed as "Perched wetlands of the Wheatbelt region with extensive stands of living sheoak and paperbark across the lake floor - Toolibin Lake".

When full, or near full, the lake is the only remaining area of brackish habitat suitable for waterbird breeding within the region. Twenty five species are known to breed there, including the Freckled Duck, cormorants, egrets, Night Herons and spoonbills. A total of 50 waterbird species have been recorded using the Lake. The large variety of aquatic invertebrates in the site provides a major food source for the waterbirds.

The Lake is reserved for nature conservation and current activities in the Ramsar site include a low level of nature-based recreation.

Justification of the listing criteria:

The Toolibin Lake Ramsar site meets four of the nine criteria:

Criterion 1: Toolibin Lake Ramsar site is located in the South-West Coast Australian Drainage Division. It is the last large Casuarina obesa dominated wetland, with mostly living trees, in the inland agricultural area of south-western Australia. Wetlands of this type formerly were widespread; however the woodland in most of these wetlands has been degraded or lost due to salinity associated with agricultural development of catchments.

Criterion 2: The ecological community of the Toolibin Lake Ramsar site, "Perched wetlands of the Wheatbelt region with extensive stands of living sheoak and paperbark across the lake floor - Toolibin Lake" is listed as a national threatened ecological community under the EPBC Act.

Criterion 3: As the last substantial remnant of a formerly common wetland type in the South-West Coast Australian Drainage Division, Toolibin Lake is important to maintaining the genetic and ecological diversity of the inland agricultural area of south-western Australia.

Criterion 4: When full, or near full, Toolibin Lake supports more breeding waterbird species than most, if not all, other wetlands in south-western Australia. This includes the Freckled Duck which has a very small breeding population in south-western Australia. The Lake also supports small breeding colonies of cormorants, egrets, Night Herons and spoonbills which are otherwise scarce or absent in the inland agricultural area of south-western Australia.

Please see the More Information page for additional information on this Ramsar site and access to the Ramsar Information sheets and other associated site documents.