The threats facing NSW coastal saltmarsh (EEC) in urban areas.
Many threats face NSW coastal saltmarsh from urban, industrial and agricultural activities. The most pressing man-made threats are reclamation, rubbish dumping, spills of oils and other chemicals, foot and vehicle traffic, invasion by exotic plant species and inappropriate stormwater discharge. Natural processes such as incursion by fast-growing mangroves and climate change also threaten the sustainability of saltmarsh habitats. The latter is likely to result in sea-level rise and hence increased inundation of the upper intertidal areas occupied by saltmarsh species. Because human activities already encroach on these areas, there will be limited capacity for saltmarsh species to ‘migrate upshore’ as sea levels rise.
A recently published report from a pedestrian survey of saltmarsh communities around Sydney Harbour1 identified 757 patches. Over half of these were very small and therefore were rated as being in poor condition because of their vulnerability to the threats listed above. Agencies responsible for the management of coastal foreshore areas need to adopt strategies to better ensure the long-term sustainability of these saltmarsh fragments within major urban environments. The declaration in 2004 of coastal saltmarsh as an Endangered Ecological Community under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act was a good first step. This needs to be augmented by ongoing activities such as regular and detailed mapping, more stringent planning instruments, controls on access to saltmarsh areas, more rehabilitation work, further public education and greater community involvement.
1 Kelleway J, Williams RJ and Allen CB (2007) An assessment of the saltmarsh of the Parramatta River and Sydney Harbour. Fisheries Final Report Series No. 90. 100pp.