Protecting Nature’s kidneys: Saltmarsh and intertidal mudflats in the Moreton Bay Ramsar wetland

Photo credit: Cath Lovelock


Saltmarsh and intertidal mudflats may not look like much at first, but after a closer look you’ll realise they are thriving communities full of small critters such as crabs, prawns, molluscs and worms, which provide a rich and bountiful food source for fish and birds.

They are comprised of green, red and blue hues, which create striking landscapes that change colour with the seasons.

You can help keep these environments healthy by keeping sediment and nutrients out of waterways and keeping vehicles out of saltmarsh areas. Driving over saltmarsh in cars and bikes can crush the plants and leave indents in the mud which can take many years to heal and recover. The ruts left in the ground fill with water and breed mosquitos, so please admire them, without driving over them.

Saltmarsh and intertidal mudflats also act like nature’s kidneys – they help remove sediment and nutrients from water before it goes into the sea. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t delicate – just like animal kidneys, too much of a good thing can make them sick.

Saltmarsh and intertidal mudflats are an integral part of the Moreton Bay Ramsar wetlands. Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world and support a diversity of plants and animals, improve water quality and provide coastal protection against erosion.

Since 1955 over 50% of saltmarsh communities have been lost and Moreton Bay saltmarsh communities have been listed as a vulnerable ecological community under the

Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. In good news, mudflat extent has increased by more than 50% in the past 30 years, largely attributed to recent floods, with mudflats now covering 860 km2 of Moreton Bay.

Healthy Land and Water delivers a range of projects to help protect and preserve these environments including the Ransome Reserve Saltmarsh Rehabilitation project and the Hays Inlet Saltmarsh Rehabilitation project as part of the Moreton Bay Ramsar Wetland Project.


Ransome Reserve Saltmarsh Rehabilitation project

The Ransome Road Reserve Restoration project is reducing threats to and enhancing the values of Moreton Bay’s Ramsar wetland. Two hectares of at risk endangered regional ecosystem are being restored and protected as part of this collaborative project.

Restoration works including revegetation and weed control are being undertaken to protect saltmarsh and woodland at the reserve. The project will see up to 300 plants – all native saltmarsh species – planted at the site.

The project site is considered to be of high ecological significance, comprising of extensive saltmarshes bordered by an ecotone, including forested areas of endangered vegetation of a unique assemblage. Forested areas at the site are considered core koala habitat area.

The Ransome Road Reserve is located within the Moreton Bay Ramsar Wetland and is a unique natural area for nature-based recreation and exploration for walkers and cyclists to enjoy. This special site has also been sustaining damage from people illegally entering the reserve in their 4WDs. The project team is hoping to put an end to this with the support of local council and the community.

Learn more:

This project is being delivered in partnership with the Brisbane Catchments Network (BCN). The Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (B4C) is undertaking the on-ground works on behalf of BCN.


Hays Inlet Saltmarsh Restoration project

The Hays Inlet Saltmarsh Restoration project is improving the ecological functioning of Hays Inlet, a mosaic intertidal wetland of saltmarsh, mangroves, and saltflats, buffered by Casuarina and Melaleuca woodland.

Hays Inlet is a nationally and internationally important wetland as recognised through its designation as a Green Zone within the Moreton Bay Marine Park, its declaration as a Fish Habitat Area and ifs inclusion within of the Moreton Bay Ramsar Wetland. It provides important habitat for over 126 bird species including international wading birds.

The project involves the manual and mechanical removal of weeds across ten hectares which is heavily infested with weeds that outcompete saltmarsh for space and sunlight. By removing the weeds, the saltmarsh and woodland will naturally regenerate improving the wetland’s habitat and ecosystem values.

Learn more:

This project is being delivered in partnership with the Redcliffe Environment Forum.

The Ransome Road Reserve Restoration project and Hays Inlet Weed Eradication projects are supported by Healthy Land and Water, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare program.

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