Rescuing the saltmarsh in Duck Bay

Ms Sue Jennings1

1Circular Head Landcare Group, Smithton, Australia


Circular Head Landcare Group is gradually eradicating ricegrass (Spartina anglica) from Duck Bay, Bolduans Bay and Robbins Passage in north west Tasmania.  This group of volunteers has provided local input, enthusiasm and dedication to a control program which was becoming increasingly ad hoc over time.  The unique values of these vast tidal mudflats include the summer feeding grounds for 23 species of migratory and resident shorebirds and many species of nationally endangered saltmarsh, which were being displaced by the introduced ricegrass which can spread into huge meadows.

Spraying operations to control ricegrass are constrained by the seasonal growth pattern of ricegrass, poor access over muddy terrain, the weather, the tides and the requirement to close commercial oyster harvesting during their busiest season while the spraying is undertaken.  This has been further complicated in the past two years by the arrival of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome in Tasmania, which has also added its own restrictions to the oyster industry.

This is a story of triumph over difficulty, of negotiation and inclusion, of persistence and cooperation.

And, as the spraying success continues, the question is – What comes next to rehabilitate these saltmarsh communities?  To the delight of CHLG volunteers and their funding providers, the saltmarsh species are naturally regenerating on the newly liberated mudflats.  In addition to coordinating funding applications and negotiations with the other stakeholders and supervising spraying contractors, Circular Head Landcare Group is now starting to monitor the recovery of saltmarsh plants and participating in biannual shorebird counts.


Sue has worked in public land management in NW Tasmania for over 35 years, developing a love of the wide open spaces and natural values of the area.  She was a founder member of Circular Head Landcare Group 6 years ago.  Sue has coordinated the ricegrass eradication program in the local estuaries and mudflats each summer for the last 4 years.