Surveys of wetlands and shorebirds in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) were conducted for the Department of Defence (DoD) by Wetlands International in January, March-April and September 2007. The wetland surveys (intertidal wetlands, freshwater swamps and streams) provide a broad condition assessment and baseline for future assessment. The bird surveys were performed to assess site usage by migratory shorebirds to determine whether the Ramsar waterbird criteria were still being met.

Results are summarised below.

Intertidal Wetlands and Freshwater Swamps

  • The site continues to meet Criterion 1 regarding the representativeness of wetland types
  • Intertidal wetlands and freshwater swamps were in overall good condition and did not appear impacted by the training activities and environmental management regimes in place at the time of the survey, though any changes to management regimes would require a reassessment
  • Peat swamps were considered to be of high importance for property management planning
  • Any future large scale development in the area would threaten the integrity of the wetlands


  • Streams were in overall good condition with no evidence of high land-use impacts and were expected to remain stable as long as the current training regimes did not change
  • SWBTA supported good cover of native vegetation on hill slopes, floodplains and riparian zones
  • There is some potential for deterioration on some stream reaches where exotic plants have invaded


  • SWBTA continued to support at least 20,000 waterbirds and therefore continued to meet Criterion 5
  • SWBTA continued to support over 1% of the Flyway population of six waterbird species and therefore continued to meet Criterion 6
  • Based on the site’s continuation in meeting the above two criterion, it remains internationally important to shorebirds helping to meet Criterion 4
  • There was no net loss of high tide roosts, or of important roosts in SWBTA
  • One species of high conservation significance, the non-migratory Beach Stone-Curlew, occurs widely and in appreciable numbers in SWBTA

Tattlers and Terek Sandpipers roosting in mangroves. Image courtesy of Roger Jaensch.

Source for survey information: Jaensch, R. and Lee Long, W. 2008. A condition assessment of wetlands and waterbirds in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area. Part 1: summary report.  Unpublished report to Australian Government Department of Defence, by Wetlands International, Brisbane.