Standard Presentation (15 mins) Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

Innovative Tidal Control Successfully Promotes Saltmarsh Restoration (#88)

Caleb Mr Rankin 1 , Troy A/Prof Gaston 1 , Mahmood Dr Sadat-Noori 2 , William Prof Glamore 2 , Jason Dr Morton 3 , Anita Dr Chalmers 1
  1. School of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Newcastle, Ourimbah, New South Wales, Australia
  2. School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Water Research Laboratory, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. School of Education and Science, Avondale University, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

The reduction of saltmarsh habitat at a global scale has seen a concomitant loss of associated ecosystem services. As such, there is a need for habitat rehabilitation. This study examined saltmarsh vegetation development in an innovative saltmarsh restoration project which sought to address the threats of mangrove encroachment and sea-level rise. The project was implemented in 2017 using unique tidal gates to lower the tidal regime over one site, effectively reversing sea level rise at a local level. Measured indicators of saltmarsh cover, number of species, seedling counts and saltmarsh assemblages all showed significant positive development over time (p < 0.05). The saltmarsh, predominantly Sarcocornia quinqueflora, developed from remnant high saltmarsh to achieve 45% coverage down to the low marsh after three years. Developmental trends differed to many North American and European saltmarshes, which may be due to the unique nature of the restoration method or, more likely, the nature of Australian saltmarsh which favours higher elevations and drier conditions. Saltmarsh development at the treatment site was found to track toward those at comparison sites over time highlighting the usefulness of the novel restoration method and the measured indicators used for assessing saltmarsh development.