Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
About the document
An Ecological Character Description describes the ecological character of a wetland at the time of its listing as a Wetland of International Importance. The Ecological Character Description is a fundamental management tool for site managers, forming the basis of management planning and action as well as including guidance on site monitoring requirements to detect changes in the ecological character of the site.
The Kooragang component of the Hunter Estuary Wetlands Ramsar site is located approximately seven kilometres north of the Newcastle central business district on the 'North Arm' of the Hunter River and covers an area of 2926 hectares. The Ramsar site is comprised of the bed of Fullerton Cove, the northern part of Kooragang Island (including the Kooragang Dykes) and the eastern section of the Tomago Wetlands. The Tomago Wetlands are an area of former wetlands converted to grazing land by drains and levees which lie to the west of Fullerton Cove. The Ramsar site also includes the fringing mangroves and islands within Fullerton Cove and part of the North Arm, as well as Stockton Sandspit and the Kooragang Dykes.
The ecological character of a wetland is the sum of all the components, processes and services of that wetland. Ecosystem components are physical, chemical and biological parts of a wetland, from large-scale to very small-scale (e.g. habitat, species and genes). Ecosystem processes are the dynamic forces within an ecosystem. They include all those processes that occur between organisms and within and between populations and communities, including interactions with the non-living environment that result in existing ecosystems and bring about changes in ecosystems over time. Ecosystem services are the benefits that people receive from ecosystems.
This document describes the critical components, processes and services for the Kooragang Component of the Hunter Estuary Wetlands Ramsar site. The Kooragang component of the Hunter Estuary Wetlands Ramsar site has 12 critical components, processes and services. The description also identifies limits of acceptable change which describe the range of variation which key aspects of the ecology of the site can vary without representing a change in the ecological character. Limits of acceptable change for the Kooragang component of the Hunter Estuary Wetlands Ramsar site have been proposed for all critical components, processes and benefits and services based on existing data.
This document also describes the current Ramsar listing criteria met by the site, the key threats and knowledge gaps for the Kooragang component of the Hunter Estuary Wetlands Ramsar site. Recommended monitoring needs and communication messages are also provided.
Further information on what Ecological Character Descriptions are and how critical components, processes and services are identified is available in the National Framework and Guidance for Describing the Ecological Character of Australian Ramsar Wetlands – Module 2 of the National Guidelines for Ramsar Wetlands – Implementing the Ramsar Convention in Australia.