Farm dams are typically constructed for agricultural and domestic purposes. Private land protected and managed for conservation often includes farm dams as legacy infrastructure.

A well-managed dam can be a valuable resource for native wildlife and ecosystem function. It can also be an asset for land management activities such as firefighting, watering tube stock in restoration zones, and providing clean drinking water for livestock.

Conservation management and dams

Enhancing an existing dam in your conservation area can increase its suitability for water-dependant native plants and animals including aquatic plants, dragonflies, yabbies, frogs, turtles, fish, water birds and fishing micro-bats.

Dams provide drinking water that can support larger populations of wildlife, from small birds to large herbivores.

Increased insect activity, drinking water and native vegetation makes a dam a magnet for breeding birds. Some mammals such as echidnas and koalas may submerge themselves in a dam to regulate their body temperature in extreme heat, or use a dam as a safe refuge during bushfires.

In drier areas, dams can support high densities of pest animals that cause significant environmental damage. In these cases management may include limiting access to dam water.

Farm dams with fringing native vegetation can provide habitat for birds like the Australian reed-warbler (Acrocephalus australis). Credit: John Spencer/DPE

Help to enhance your dam’s biodiversity

The NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust works with private landholders to establish and manage conservation areas on their properties.

Our expert staff work with conservation agreement-holders to enhance the biodiversity of existing dams in a conservation area and develop strategies for issues such as pest and weed management.

Strategies and management actions will vary depending on the location and the presence and abundance of water in the landscape. Local conditions such as vegetation cover and grazing history will also be a consideration.

Further reading and resources

A collection of conservation management guidelines designed for NSW landholders managing a conservation area on their property.

Advice to NSW landholders on how they can keep water sources on their properties healthy.

Technical guidance and fact sheets on managing a dam for conservation benefits.