Tidal Treasures of the Tamar: Community Saltmarsh Monitoring in Northern Tasmania

Miss Megan Dykman1, Mr Vishnu Prahalad2

1NRM North, Launceston, Australia, 2University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

Abstract

A nationally listed threatened community, Temperate Coastal Saltmarsh plays many vital ecological roles, including providing habitat to unique and diverse assemblages of birds and plants, acting as a coastal buffer and capturing carbon. However, our limited understanding and appreciation of saltmarsh ecosystems has contributed to their mismanagement, with over half of Tasmanian saltmarshes estimated to have already been lost or degraded.

The Tamar River estuary in northern Tasmania is home to approximately 86 ha of saltmarsh, all within 45 minutes of the city of Launceston, Tasmania’s second largest population centre.

Now in its third year, the Tamar Saltmarsh Monitoring Program has facilitated the involvement of community members in surveying and documenting the natural values of the Tamar River estuary saltmarshes, along with the human impacts they face. This program is part of a state-wide effort to better map, monitor and manage Tasmanian saltmarsh ecosystems. Along with collecting valuable data on the bird and plant inhabitants of saltmarshes, the surveys have raised the profile of these ecosystems among the local community and pinpointed key areas for improved management. Many survey volunteers had previously never stepped foot in a saltmarsh and, through their involvement in the program, have built knowledge, awareness and deeper connections with their local environment. We hope that the successes, challenges and lessons learnt from this program will inform and inspire other similar programs and contribute to the conservation of this valuable and vulnerable ecosystem.

Biography

Megan studied a Bachelor of Applied Science: Marine Environment at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Launceston. Megan’s Honours project involved a benthic survey of the rocky reef communities of the lower Tamar River estuary and a taxonomic investigation of their octocoral inhabitants. Megan’s role as a facilitator at NRM North involves working closely with the community, smallholders and other stakeholders to facilitate their involvement in NRM activities. Megan coordinates the Tamar Saltmarsh Monitoring Program and is involved in water quality monitoring in the Tamar River estuary.