Image credit: Audrey Bird
Toolibin Lake, in southwest Australia,
is an area of high conservation value
being one of the last remaining inland
freshwater lakes found there. It is
an ecological community, an area
of unique and naturally occurring
groups of plants and animals, and is
the largest remaining wetland of this
type in south west Australia.
The Australian Government has listed it
as a threatened ecological community
and it is internationally classified as
a wetland of international importance
under the Ramsar Convention.
What does it look like?
Toolibin Lake is a seasonal wetland,
meaning it only has water at certain
times of the year. When the wetland
is full its woodland trees, sheoak
(Melaleuca strobophylla) are partially
submerged in water.
The wetland has some of the richest
habitat found in the region and
provides a home for many kinds
of plants and animals including
waterbirds. An impressive 41 species
of waterbirds have been recorded at
the wetland, including rare species
like the freckled duck. The threatened
red-tailed phascogale also lives there.
Where is it found?
Toolibin Lake is found in the Upper
Blackwood River catchment, 200km
south east of Perth. It occurs in a low
rainfall area of the Wheatbelt with
average annual falls between 370mm
and 420mm. Some years, rainfall is
well below average. Unfortunately,
Toolibin Lake is one of only half a
dozen wetlands of its type remaining.
This type of wetland used to be
common throughout the Wheatbelt
but most have now become saline.
The Upper Blackwood River
catchment is in the Southwest
Australia Ecoregion, a biodiversity
hotspot. The area is high in plant
and animal diversity but has also
been severely degraded.
Gilbert s potoroo
What s going to be
cleared for sheep grazing and wheat
crops so there are now limited areas
of native habitat left.
threats to toolibin lake
The Toolibin Lake threatened
ecological community has been
reduced in size by at least 90 per
cent because of a number of threats.
natural vegetation has been removed
in the past to make way for agriculture
resulting in the water table rising
and bringing salt from underground
aquifers. This causes the soil and water
systems in that area to become saline,
which impacts on the health of Toolibin
Lake’s fragile lake floor vegetation.
Weeds change the structure of
this delicate ecosystem and in turn
decrease natural vegetation available
for food and shelter for animals.
Grazing by sheep damages the Lake’s
natural vegetation and compact soil,
again changing the natural habitat.
case Study – Conserving the
The Friends of the Wagin Lakes is
a community group dedicated to
the conservation of the ecosystem
and environment surrounding the
Wagin Lakes, including the nearby
Toolibin Lake threatened ecological
community. The Wagin Lakes provide
habitat for the red-tailed phascogale
and a number of water birds.
The red-tailed phascogale, known
by the nyoongar people of Western
Australia as the Kingo, was once
found across Australia from the
south west of Western Australia to
the Great Sandy Desert and across
to the eastern states.
Sadly, it is thought to have disappeared
from the eastern states in the late 1800s
and is now endangered, being found
only in small, scattered populations
across the Western Australian Wheatbelt.
With help from a TSn community
grant the Friends of Wagin Lakes are
conserving habitat for the red-tailed
phascogale. The project is developing
a better understanding of phascogale
ecology, and improving corridors of
high quality habitat with the help of
landholders and local government.
over 5000 endemic native trees were
planted, primarily Casuarina obesa
and Eucalyptus wandoo, and corridors
fenced to assist with regeneration.
The Friends of the Wagin Lakes
continue to work with Southwest
Catchments Council, local government,
Wagin Woodanilling Landcare Zone
and community partners to protect this
unique ecosystem and special animal.
What you can do
visit the nature-based recreation
picnic ground and walk trails while
learning about the lake from the
visit nearby Taarblin Lake, a
heavily degraded by rising salinity.
visitors can see the possible future
fate of Toolibin Lake here, if rising
salinity is not managed into the future.
Join the Toolibin Lake Recovery
look at recovery actions at the lake
and in the surrounding catchment.
Join the Friends of Wagin Lakes and
monitoring, revegetation, fencing,
weed control and surface and
ground water monitoring, to assist the
recovery of Toolibin Lake. Contact the
Toolibin Lake Recovery Catchment
officer at the WA Department of
Environment and Conservation.
Southwest Australia Ecoregion
(08) 9387 6444
Department of Environment and Conservation (WA), http://www.naturebase.net/content/view/451/950/.
Department of Environment, Heritage and the Arts, www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/communities/toolibin lake.html
Toolibin Lake Recovery Team and