Australian Wetlands Database

Ramsar wetlands

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Apsley Marshes


Key facts and figures:

Date of listing:

16 November 1982

Apsley Marshes and the adjacent Moulting Lagoon form one of the most significant wetland areas in Tasmania (2009),  Photo: SEWPaC

Australian Ramsar site number:







880 hectares

Drainage Division or IMCRA  region:


Wetland type: 

  • 9 - Canals and drainage channels, ditches
  • H - Intertidal marshes; includes salt marshes, salt meadows, saltings, raised salt marshes; includes tidal brackish and freshwater marshes
  • I - Intertidal forested wetlands; includes mangrove swamps, nipah swamps and tidal freshwater swamp forests
  • M - Permanent rivers/streams/creeks; includes waterfalls
  • Tp - Permanent freshwater marshes/pools; ponds (below 8 ha), marshes and swamps on inorganic soils; with emergent vegetation water-logged for at least most of the growing season
  • Ts - Seasonal/intermittent freshwater marshes/pools on inorganic soils; includes sloughs, potholes, seasonally flooded meadows, sedge marshes

Key features of the site:

The Apsley Marshes Ramsar site covers the freshwater marshes at the mouth of the Apsley River, located on the east coast of Tasmania. The Apsley Marshes stores and filters flood waters from the Apsley River for slow release into the adjacent Moulting Lagoon Ramsar wetland. Both these wetlands are geologically significant as they were formed in a long-lived graben system, which is possibly related to the break up of Gondwanaland.

The Apsley Marshes contain large areas of woody vegetation dominated by Swamp Paperbark. Saltmarsh communities occur in the southern section near Moulting Lagoon. Parts of the site are important for swan nesting, and it is an important feeding and breeding area for waterfowl which require a freshwater habitat.

The marshes have a long history of human use, including use by Indigenous communities. The land is private freehold and used for grazing.

Justification of the listing criteria:

Apsley Marshes Ramsar site meets five of the nine Ramsar Criteria:

Criterion 1: The Apsley Marshes Ramsar site, located in the Tasmanian Australian Drainage Division bioregion, contains six dominant wetland types; intertidal marshes, intertidal forested wetlands, permanent rivers/streams/creeks, permanent freshwater marshes and pools, seasonal/intermittent freshwater marshes and pools, canals, and drainage channels and ditches. The wetland, along with the adjacent Ramsar-listed Moulting Lagoon, is one of the most floristically rich wetlands in Tasmania. The two Ramsar sites are of regional geoconservation significance as they are formed in a long-lived graben system, possibly related to the break-up of Gondwanaland.

Criterion 2: The Apsley Marshes Ramsar site supports two threatened species, a waterbird (the Australasian bittern) and a plant (the swamp everlasting)..

Criterion 3: The Apsley Marshes Ramsar site supports ninety four flora species, eighty two of which are native wetland-dependent. The site is known to support six wetland-related flora species considered rare and threatened in the Tasmanian bioregion The vulnerable white-bellied sea eagle, which is rare in the bioregion, has been recorded as breeding within the site..

Criterion 4: The Ramsar wetland is important for providing breeding habitat in the lower marshes for swans that also utilise the neighbouring Moulting Lagoon. Up to 1000 nests have been recorded in Apsley Marshes and the location is considered to be the second most heavily-used nesting site in the area. The vulnerable white-bellied sea eagle, which is rare in the bioregion, has been recorded as breeding within the site.

Criteron 8: Apsley Marshes provides a linkage between the inland waters of the Apsley River and the Southern Ocean, via Moulting Lagoon. Short-finned eel and the vulnerable Australian grayling migrate through the site, and black bream spawn in the site.

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.