The Narran Wetlands, also known as the Narran Lakes, comprise a series of ephemeral lakes and swamps fed by the Narran River in north-central New South Wales, Australia. They are important for waterbirds.
The 224 km2 wetland complex formed by the Narran floodplain is the terminal system of the Narran River, the easternmost distributary of the Balonne River, and lies between the towns of Brewarrina and Walgett, in the Murray-Darling Basin. The floodplain contains three areas of open water, Clear Lake and Back Lake (with Long Arm) in the north, and Narran Lake (also known as Terewah) in the south, connected by expanses of vegetation subject to flooding. The wetland supports extensive and dense dense stands of Lignum with, in places, an overstorey of River Red Gums or Belalie. The vegetation constitutes the substrate on which the waterbird breeding colonies depend and which require regular flooding for their survival. The average annual rainfall is 495 mm. The surrounding region is part of the semi-arid pastoral zone used mainly for grazing cattle and sheep.
The wetlands have been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) because they support large numbers of nesting waterbirds when flooded. Birds include the largest colony of Straw-necked Ibises (with up to 200,000 pairs), over 1% of the world populations of Australian Pelicans and Black-fronted Dotterels, and small numbers of endangered Australasian Bitterns. Other birds which have been recorded in relatively large numbers include Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorants, Freckled and Pink-eared Ducks, Black Swans, Glossy Ibises, Whiskered Terns, Royal Spoonbills and Darters.
Threats and conservation
Part of the wetland is protected in the 147 km2 Narran Lake Nature Reserve. It has also been listed under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance. However, the vegetation and the waterbird colonies are at risk from reduced flooding caused by upstream water abstraction for agriculture in Queensland.
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