Improving the ecological functioning of the Hays Inlet Conservation Area
The Ramsar Wetland Weed Control project is improving the ecological functioning of the Hays Inlet Conservation Reserve, an intertidal wetland within the Moreton Bay Ramsar site. The area is a mosaic of saltmarsh, mangroves, and saltflats, buffered by Casuarina and Melaleuca woodland.
Midstory weeds infest the woodland areas and suppress the growth of the saltmarsh understory. The weeds compete with saltmarsh for space and sunlight.
Removal of midstory weeds will enable natural regeneration of the saltmarsh and Casuarina and Melaleuca woodland to occur and will help prevent weed spread into other sections of the wetland.
About the project
The project involves the manual and mechanical removal of midstory weeds across ten hectares of the Hays Inlet Conservation area.
Weeds will be removed using manual and mechanical techniques with a particular focus on Broad Leaf Pepper Tree, Groundsel Bush, Lantana and Singapore Daisy.
The Redcliffe Environment Forum, supported by Healthy Land and Water, is overseeing the weed removal.
Why this project is important
Hays inlet is a designated Green Zone in the Moreton Bay Marine Park, a Declared Fish Habitat Area and a Ramsar Wetland. It is an important site for international wading birds with over 126 bird species having been observed in the area.
The site is a conservation reserve consisting of a Casuarina and Melaleuca forest with an understory of saltmarsh including marine couch, ruby saltbush and Pigweed. Adjacent habitats include saltmarsh with several distinct Samphires, saltflats, closed grassland dominated by Sporobolus virginicus and waterways lined with mangroves including Avicennia marina.
Saltmarshes are important intertidal wetland plant communities made up of succulents, grasses, low shrubs and saltpans that experience periodic or occasional tidal flooding.
Saltmarsh communities are key components of the landscape and provide invaluable ecosystem services. This includes protection from storm surge, filtering nutrients and sediment before it makes it way to Moreton Bay and contributing to the productivity of fisheries.
Action and outcomes
Over the past five years, the Redcliffe Environmental Forum has conducted quarterly bird surveys in the area. During that time 131 bird species have been observed and identified including the Bar-tailed Godwit, the Marsh Sandpiper and the endangered Eastern Curlew.
The removal of the target weeds supports populations of endemic species and enhances feeding and roosting sites for resident and migratory shorebirds as well as habitat for the nationally threatened water mouse, often called the false water-rat (Xeromys myoides).
This work is also increasing the health of the saltmarsh and its capacity to adapt to threats imposed by urban development, population growth and climate change and is improving the overall ecological functioning and integrity of the wetland
The presence of target weed species within the project area at Hays Inlet has already been significantly reduced from a total of 40% to a total of 5%.
Works will continue until 2024 to ensure the invasive weeds are kept at bay and to support the recovery of the local ecosystem.
This project is being supported by Healthy Land and Water, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.