‘areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres.’
Wetlands in Victoria are diverse and range from alpine bogs, riverine wetlands, fresh and saline lakes, coastal estuaries, shores and bays to human-made impoundments, sewage ponds and dams. There are approximately 16,700 non-flowing wetlands covering 540,900 hectares, of which 12,800 (covering 432,800 hectares) are natural and the remaining 3,900 wetlands are artificial.
There are six main categories of naturally occurring wetlands in Victoria. Eleven wetland systems are Ramsar sites of international importance and 159 are wetlands of national importance.
Wetlands provide essential habitats for plants, invertebrates, fish, birds, and mammals, including rare and threatened species. Migratory shorebirds from places such as China, Japan and Siberia visit Victoria’s wetlands each summer.
Wetlands improve water quality by filtering pollutants, control floods, assist regulation of global carbon levels and have significant cultural values. Wetlands provide opportunities for recreational activities such as bird watching, canoeing, boating, fishing and bush walking. The Wetlands Chapter in Victoria’s Biodiversity Strategy provides information on wetland conservation and management across the State.
Wetlands are vulnerable to climate change. A 2013 report describes the indicative impacts on wetlands in Victoria.