Introduction to the Ramsar Convention

About Ramsar

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. It was named after the Iranian city of Ramsar where the original treaty was signed on the 2 February 1975. There are currently 172 contracted parties with 2439 sites recognised as wetlands of international importance and they cover an area of 254,691,993 hectares.


When most people hear about the Ramsar convention, they automatically think about migratory shorebirds, but it's much more than that. Ramsar is about protecting wetlands and they include lakes, rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans.


The Convention’s mission is the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world.

Contracting parties commitment to the convention

Members of the convention, including the Australian Government agree to:

  • work towards the conservation and wise use of all their wetlands;
  • establish nature reserves on wetlands and promote wetland training;
  • designate suitable wetlands for the list of Wetlands of International Importance (the “Ramsar List”) and ensure their effective management;
  • cooperate internationally on transboundary wetlands, shared wetland systems and shared species.

Australia entered the convention in December 1975 and currently has 66 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 8,307,694 hectares.


Homepage | Ramsar downloaded 17th April 2022

You can learn more about the Ramsar Convention the ecology of the Moreton Bay Ramsar Site and migratory shorebirds by clicking on the ink below where you can enrol in an online course for the one-time price of $30.00.

The Ramsar Wetlands and Shorebirds of Moreton Bay

Ramsar in Australia

Australia joined the convention in December 1975 and currently has 66 sites designated as wetlands of international importance across the country representing an area of over 8,307,000 hectares. The latest designation of a Ramsar site (number 2344) covers over 22,000 hectares in Victoria was. The Glenelg Estuary and Discovery Bay was classified as the 66th wetland of international importance in February 2018.

Ramsar in Queensland

Queensland has 5 Ramsar sites:

  • Bowling Green Bay
  • Currawinya Lakes
  • Great Sandy Strait
  • Moreton Bay
  • Shoalwater and Corio Bays Area

Ramsar in Moreton Bay

The Moreton Bay Ramsar site (631) is adjacent to the city of Brisbane and was first listed in 1993. Moreton Bay is a semi-enclosed basin protected by large sand dune islands to the east and a river delta to the west. Moreton Bay includes extensive communities of seagrass, mangroves and saltmarsh as well as large areas of intertidal flats. At the lands edge there are significant areas of wetlands as well as dunes and ocean beaches. The site sustains over 50,000 shorebirds including 43 local and 28 migratory birds. The site covers 120, 655 hectares and meets all nine Ramsar criteria.


Further information including maps can be obtained at the following links

Moreton Bay Information Sheet Moreton Bay Ramsar site – Ramsar Information Sheet - DCCEEW

WetlandInfo Moreton Bay Ramsar internationally important wetland Moreton Bay Ramsar internationally important wetland — facts and maps (Department of Environment and Science) (


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