Repairing and conserving Australia’s saltmarshes and seascapes

Australia's coastal marine biodiversity and accompanying benefits such as fisheries have been markedly reduced due to loss of essential inshore habitats. These coastal habitats provide a nursery ground for a multitude of animals, including fish, prawns and birds. Many species depend on inshore habitat during critical early life-stages characterised by rapid growth and development (coastal dependency). These coastal tidally linked wetlands (commonly known as ‘seascapes’) comprise mangrove-lined channels, salt marshes, mud flats, sedge lands and sub tidal and inter tidal channels and gutters. Much of the losses in habitat have occurred as a function of Australia's development for urban, infrastructure and agricultural uses - all of benefit to Australia's economy. While better planning and management could have reduced the impact on our coastal marine biodiversity much of the task ahead for Australia is about land use optimisation - seeking the best patterns of use and management that will maximise overall community benefits. Essentially re-creating or repairing key components of coastal habitat for benefits whether it is commercial or recreational fishing, water quality, biodiversity or carbon sequestration. If these restoration efforts are planned and implemented carefully Australia can maximise benefits from its coastal resources while achieving urban, infrastructure and agricultural development.

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