Saltmarsh for Life
Saltmarsh for Life is about reconnecting the South East Queensland community to the rich and varied life forms found in our beautiful saltmarsh environments.
Well if you love seafood, you love saltmarsh. If you love to fish, you love saltmarsh. If you love birds, you love saltmarsh. So a lot of people already love saltmarsh they may just not know it yet!
Saltmarsh ecosystems are so much more varied that they are traditionally given credit for and consequently often mistakenly seen as wastelands and earmarked for development. One of the missions of Saltmarsh for Life is to try and start to change these perceptions. By bringing different sectors together, such as not-for-profit, universities, Traditional Owners, recreational fisher folk, government and industry, we can start to raise awareness within the community. We can find out how people use and value these areas, identify where they are and more importantly, how we can work together as a community to protect them.
You might recognise saltmarsh as the low wetland areas found near the coast – without getting too technical, saltmarsh includes grasses, herbs, succulents, sedges and bare areas on marine clay plains that experience periodic or occasional tidal flooding. While existing in low areas with high salinity content, they can co-exist with mangroves and other salt tolerant trees and shrubs. In South East Queensland saltmarsh is uniquely adapted to our subtropical environment. Plants include marine couch, samphire or succulent herbs and other salt tolerant plants and animals that are found mostly along the upper intertidal zone of coastal waterways and estuaries.
Saltmarsh in South East Queensland is listed as a Threatened Ecological Community. Find out more here.
Well for starters, fish love saltmarsh – they use it as a safe place to breed and feed, as there are much fewer predators here. They are very productive ecosystems—meaning that the plants grow a lot each year, and in doing so they support large numbers of snails, worms and other invertebrates and crustaceans that are essential feed for many other animals, including fish and birds. So if you like eating or catching fish, then looking after our saltmarsh areas is looking after your fish! Recreational fisher folk are key allies in protecting saltmarsh. We are currently working together with OzFish Unlimited to help Australian recreational fishers become proud contributors to a better fishing future.
Migratory birds which travel thousands of miles also use saltmarsh as a vital resting and feeding spot, before continuing their journey. Crustaceans like crabs and prawns also use it as a safe place to feed and breed.
Saltmarsh also cleans water before it makes it way to the ocean, by filtering nutrients and sediment. Clean water means more fish, marine life and healthier coastal areas for you to enjoy with your family. Saltmarshes are super carbon stores. Australian saltmarshes, along with mangroves and seagrasses, trap and bury 5 times more carbon in each hectare of their soils than land-based forests. This is because saltmarsh is highly productive (the plants grow quickly), and it exists on wet soils (which are starved of oxygen). A common misconception is that saltmarsh are home to many mosquitos, but in reality, a healthy saltmarsh ecosystems generally have fewer mosquitos than saltmarsh areas that have been damaged and degraded.
If you love saltmarsh and would like to help, we are currently collecting information from the community on saltmarsh areas that are important to them. All of the information collected will help to build a bigger picture of where saltmarsh areas are found in South East Queensland, what condition they are in, how they are currently used by the community. This information will also be used to help prioritise conservation actions, which is another aspect of Saltmarsh for Life.
Information could include:
- Additional values (culturally significant sites; rare species; social values)
- Plants and animals using the area,
- Threats, issues or damage impacting the area
- Areas that require restoration/conservation action, or
- Other features of interest.
If you are a recreational fisher, why not join the growing group of recreational fishers at OzFish Unlimited who want to give back to the sport they love by protecting and restoring fish habitat. Join them at www.ozfish.org.au.
Alternatively, add your information to our Saltmarsh map via this link – It’s quick and easy to do online.
Saltmarsh Rehabilitation Projects Review
The Saltmarsh for Life Committee commissioned Dr Jon Knight to undertake a review of Saltmarsh Rehabilitation Techniques utilised in Queensland and New South Wales. Dr Knight found over 100 projects throughout the two states, from which he identified effective rehabilitation techniques that can be applied in the South East Queensland region.
This project was funded by Gold Coast Waterways Authority, Redland City Council, Moreton Bay Regional Council and Gold Coast City Council, and coordinated by Healthy Land and Water.
Saltmarsh Rehabilitation Manuals:
The above study found that the following Manuals are applicable to South East Queensland. It is recommend these be considered when undertaking Saltmarsh restoration projects in South East Queensland.
Saltwater Wetlands Rehabilitation Manual produced by the Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW (Anon 2008). This is supported by the paper by Kerryn Stephens – Saltwater Wetlands – a Guide to Rehabilitation (Stephens 2007).
Wet eBook: Workbook for Managing Urban Wetlands in Australia. Produced by the Sydney Olympic Park Authority (Paul 2013).
Best Practice Guidelines for Coastal Saltmarsh produced by the Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW and Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority who acknowledge the assistance of the Sydney Olympic Park Authority in preparing the guidelines (Anon 2008)
National Restoration Standards produced by the Society for Ecological Restoration (2017) provides a set of key principles
The Waterwatch Estuary Field Manual (Anon 2010) provides some strategies for monitoring saltmarshes as does the Methods Manual Saltmarsh Habitat produced by Mangrove Watch.
Issues around evaluating connectivity in aquatic ecosystems, including saltmarshes, are explored in “Framework for evaluating aquatic ecosystem connectivity” (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection 2012). The framework helps to place rehabilitation at the site scale into the context of the broader mosaic of wetlands helping to provide a strategic overview to resource use and funding.