Protecting our valuable saltmarsh communities

News article |

A new video has been released by the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board, highlighting the region’s valuable saltmarsh communities that it has been working to protect through a range of management actions including monitoring of threatened Hooded Plovers.

This work has been taking place across the Eyre Peninsula coastline as part of the Saltmarsh Threat Abatement and Recovery (STAR) Project which is delivered by the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

“The real focus of our STAR project is on saltmarshes and Hooded Plovers; and improving the condition of our saltmarsh which is a vital threatened ecological community on the Eyre Peninsula,” says Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board’s Western District Team Leader, Liz McTaggart.

“Eyre Peninsula coastline spans 3,292 km with 16 coastal embayment’s, home to one-third of South Australia’s intertidal samphire habitat.

“Saltmarsh is a fragile ecosystem that is extremely susceptible to human interference – its value is right up there with rainforests but it’s often undervalued in our community.

“Through our STAR project – and this new video – we are aiming to raise awareness of the importance of this ecosystem which is vital for our fishing industries and provides a valuable blue carbon source.”

Protecting our valuable saltmarsh communities
Eyre Peninsula saltmarsh, photographed during filming of the video.

The STAR project is now in its fourth and final year. During the project, more than 300 hectares of saltmarsh has been remediated while a further 317 hectares has been protected through access control.

Drone technology has played an important role in monitoring Eyre Peninsula saltmarsh as it allows changes to be captured with no human disturbance to the valuable ecological community.

“During the life of the STAR project, we’ve been able to use methods – including drone monitoring – that give us valuable data that we’ll be able to use to track changes to saltmarsh for years to come.

“For monitoring of our Hooded Plover population, we’ve had a wonderful group of BirdLife Australia volunteers who make a large impact – along with our staff – on gathering observations that help us not only track the population health but allow us to make positive interventions when predators are threatening these birds.

“Right now we’re more than half-way through our local Hooded Plover breeding season. It’s a tricky time for the birds as the beaches that they are breeding on and attempting to raise chicks on, are often busy during summer which puts them at risk.

“We put up signage at beach entrances where there are known Hooded Plovers and we ask beach-goers to take on board the messages we put out there – that is, staying along the water’s edge, keeping dogs on a lead, and keeping well away if you do spot the birds or their chicks.

“Last breeding season we had our best results yet for the Hooded Plovers population and we’d really like to see a similar outcome this time but already we’ve seen high tides and stormy weather disturb their attempts.”

The Hooded Plover monitoring is undertaken in conjunction with BirdLife Australia’s Beach-nesting Birds Program with data being fed into a national database that contributes to large-scale knowledge of the species.

The “Protecting and improving Eyre Peninsula’s saltmarsh” video is available on the Board’s YouTube channel.

For additional information about the STAR project, see our project page.

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