This convention aims to stop the world from losing wetlands and to conserve, through wise use and management, those that remain. More than 90 countries are contracting parties to the convention.
Wetlands are selected as Ramsar sites for the list of Wetlands of International Importance because of ecological, botanical, zoological, limnological or hydrological criteria. Wetlands in Kakadu stage one were listed in June 1980. Wetlands in Kakadu stage two were listed in September 1987. In March 1996 wetlands in Kakadu stage three that are part of the South Alligator River catchment were added to the list. In total 683 000 ha of wetlands in Kakadu are listed as wetlands of international importance.
In March 1996 the contracting parties to the Ramsar convention also agreed to establish an East Asian/Australasian flyway to protect areas used by migratory shorebirds. The flyway provides for an East Asian/Australasian shorebird reserve network of sites that are critically important to migratory shorebirds. The wetlands of Kakadu National Park are part of this reserve network.