DELWP's Index of Wetland Condition (IWC), developed 10 years ago, has been used by DELWP and by Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) for state-wide and regional wetland condition assessments. The IWC measures aspects of a wetland's soils, water, hydrology, physical form, plants, and the wetland catchment to provide an assessment of its health (condition). The information generated from IWC assessments is used by DELWP and CMAs to identify and assess risks to wetlands, determine management priorities and monitor long-term trends in condition.

The Victoria-wide assessments led by DELWP from 2009-2011 focused on 827 wetlands (approximately 6% of the naturally occurring, non-alpine wetlands in the state). Two groups of wetlands were included: "high-value" – categorised as such using a mixture of those listed under the Ramsar convention and Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia, as well as high-value wetlands identified in the Wimmera region; and "representative" – a selection chosen as representative of the wide range of Victorian wetland types. Assessments found that just over half of each wetland group were in good or excellent condition, while 14% of high-value wetlands and 25% of representative wetlands were in poor or very poor condition. The number of high-value wetlands in good condition was surprising given that this assessment occurred at the end of a period of unprecedented drought. The results may reflect the resilience of these wetlands to drought, the effectiveness of management activities, or both. More representative wetlands were in poor or very poor condition because threats, such as altered hydrology and reduced water quality are more prevalent at those wetlands.

CMAs have used the IWC to gauge wetland health in response to management activities such as environmental watering, and to natural floods. The IWC is also part of a program where private landholders can seek funding from CMAs to improve the condition of wetlands on their property. Several hundred wetlands have been assessed using the IWC since its adoption in such funding programs.

A wetland in excellent condition

A wetland in very poor condition - it has had cropping applied to it

For more information see the Index of Wetland Condition Data Management System website or contact: phil.papas@delwp.vic.gov.au

The results of statewide assessments are available in the following report:

Ways of improving the quality of the IWC data are described in the following report: