The lower Latrobe wetlands (Dowd Morass, Heart Morass and Sale Common) are an important component of the internationally recognised Gippsland Lakes Ramsar site and provide habitat for a variety of waterbirds of state, national and international conservation significance. The wetlands are located on the floodplain of the Latrobe River between its confluence with the Thomson River, and they form part of the Gippsland Lakes system.
River regulation and water extraction from the Latrobe, Thomson and Macalister rivers has reduced the frequency of small and medium-sized floods that naturally wet the lower Latrobe wetlands. Construction of levees and drains and filling of natural depressions have also altered water movement into and through the wetlands. The drainage and flooding regime in all three wetlands is now managed to some extent with regulators connected to the Latrobe River.