Butcher, R., Hale, J., Capon, S., and Thoms, M.
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 Narran Lake Nature Reserve is situated in the north-west of New South Wales (NSW), approximately 75 kilometres north-west of Walgett and 50 kilometres north-east of Brewarrina. Narran Lake Nature Reserve covers part of a large terminal wetland of the Narran River in NSW at the end of the Condamine River system which flows from Queensland. The Narran River lies within the Murray-Darling Basin.
The Ramsar site contains two open water areas, Clear Lake and Back Lake. Annual inflows to the Narran wetlands are highly variable and Back and Clear Lakes will usually retain water for approximately 4-6 months following inundation.
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.
The document describes the critical components, processes and services for the Narran Lake Nature Reserve Ramsar site. 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.
The Ecological Character Description also sets out the current Ramsar listing criteria met by the site, the key threats and knowledge gaps for the Narran Lake Nature Reserve 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.