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 Lakes Argyle and Kununurra Wetlands Ramsar site is located in the north east of Western Australia, within the Timor Sea Drainage Division. The site covers approximately 117 000 hectares and lies within the Shire of Wyndham – East Kimberley. The northern extent of the site (Lake Kununurra) is within the town of Kununurra (population in 2006; 5700) and Lake Argyle is immediately upstream. Lakes Argyle and Kununurra were formed by the construction of dams on the Ord River for the supply of irrigation water to the Ord River Irrigation Area (ORIA).
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 Lakes Argyle and Kununurra Wetlands Ramsar site. The Ramsar site has 9 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 Lakes Argyle and Kununurra 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 Lakes Argyle and Kununurra 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.