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Estuarine wetlands within protected areas

Key Finding

Areas of managed protection covering estuarine wetlands in Queensland often overlap. Of Queensland’s estuarine wetlands, 38% are within an area of managed protection. Fish habitat areas protect 29%, highly protected marine park zones cover 11% and protected areas a further 5%. These figures do not include the Great Sandy Marine Park.

Estuarine wetlands are important ecosystems. They provide nurseries for many commercial fish species’ young and act as a protective buffer for the coastline from storm surges and cyclones.

Estuarine wetlands are contained within areas of managed protection. Managed protection includes:

  • protected areas under the Nature Conservation Act 1992—national park, national park (scientific), national park (Cape York Aboriginal land), conservation park, resource reserve, and nature refuges
  • highly protected marine park zones under the Marine Parks Act 2004—marine national park, marine preservation, conservation park, scientific research and buffer zones
  • fish habitat areas (A and B) declared under the Fisheries Act 1994.

There are 2.5 million hectares (ha) of estuarine wetlands along the Queensland coast.

Some estuarine wetlands are afforded higher protection due to the overlap of these areas of managed protection.

  • 945,100ha are in managed protection (38%).
  • 136,000ha are in protected areas (5%). About 53% of these are in national parks.
  • 272,100ha (11%) are within highly protected marine zones of Queensland marine parks, 74% is marine national park zone.

Declared fish habitat areas offer the greatest extent of protection for estuarine wetlands, with 713,900ha (29%) covered. This makes up 76% of the total of protected estuarine wetlands.

* Figures provided are rounded to the nearest 100ha.

Disclaimer: The State of the Environment report 2020 (SoE2020) wetlands statistics are not comparable with previous SoE report figures. The SoE2020 statistics are based on the most recently available wetlands and other updated data. The different versions of the wetlands mapping (e.g. 2017 – v4; 2020 – v5) and other datasets are not comparable due to a number of factors such as updated source data, improved data capture methods. Therefore differences between SoE reports do not reflect an actual wetland extent change on-ground and only statistics within each SoE report should be compared.

More information:

Relevant Sustainable Development Goals’ targets


Download data from Queensland Government data


The proportion of estuarine wetlands that are within areas of managed protection. For State of Environment purposes, managed protection include: Protected Areas under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, Areas of Fish Habitat under the Fisheries Act 2008, and State Marine Parks (Highly Protected Zones) under the Marine Parks Act 2004. Data is based on the latest Queensland Wetland Mapping (version 5, 2017) and the most current Protected Area, Fish Habitat and Marine Parks mapping (2020).