Fortescue Marsh – a nationally significant wetland

Funding announced in the recently handed down State budget 2024-25 will support a range of initiatives within the WA Government’s Plan for our Parks 

The plan is designed to create more opportunities for nature-based and cultural tourism, to provide enhanced biodiversity conservation and build on Aboriginal joint management of parks and reserves throughout Western Australia.  

One of the initiatives supported is the soon-to-be created Fortescue Marsh Nature Reserve, a large, seasonal wetland located in the Fortescue River valley between the Chichester and Hamersley Ranges in the Pilbara.  

Known as Manggurdu to the Banjima people and Martuyitha to the Nyiyaparli people, it  is a place of great  cultural significance and described as the ‘heart’ of the region’s water system. 

Succulent, salt tolerant Tecticornia (samphires) are one of the dominant species. Image credit: Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

The Fortescue Marsh is recognised as a Key Biodiversity Area for its significance as habitat and feeding area for nationally significant numbers of waterbirds following inundation. The marshland and surrounds support habitat for several conservation significant fauna species, notably the critically endangered night parrot, the quoll, greater bilby and Pilbara olive python.  

This area also has a high diversity of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and stygofauna (underground water dwellers) and as part of an ancient and complex array of alluvial aquifers and groundwater systems, it is rich in plant species of high conservation value.