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Coastal wetland rehabilitation

Published 24 June 2024 Rehabilitating degraded wetlands to improve water quality, habitat and biodiversity within the wetland and downstream.
content image Black winged stilts flying over a rehabilitated wetland near Ballina, NSW. Photo by: Patrick Dwyer


Why is this project important?

Coastal wetlands are important for keeping waterways healthy. They also provide habitat for a variety of wildlife.

Wetlands act as natural water filters. They trap sediment and nutrients that can cause water pollution.

Healthy wetlands support coastal waterways that are good for swimming, boating and fishing.

The coastal wetlands rehabilitation action aims to improve water quality and habitat in NSW by:

  • purchasing private wetland properties next to existing protected areas and managing them to deliver water quality and habitat functions
  • helping land owners improve the health of wetlands on their property
  • returning natural water level variation in some wetlands.

What have we achieved?

  • 408 ha of coastal wetlands now protected and added to the NSW Reserved Estate
  • 11,520 ha of NSW coastal floodplain wetlands studied to identify remediation options and inform planning, comprising:

    • Hydrological and remediation option assessments completed for coastal wetlands at: East Kinchela 2,100 ha (Macleay), Crookhaven River 1,050 ha (Shoalhaven), Tomago 500 ha (Hunter), Duck Creek 192 ha (Richmond), Werri Lagoon 85 ha (Gerringong), Jones Island 85 ha, Martells Road 7.5 ha
    • Cost Benefit Analysis reports prepared for 2 major coastal wetland rehabilitation projects: Tuckean Wetland 6,000 ha and Clybucca 1,500 ha
  • On ground rehabilitation works at Tomago and Crookhaven River.

Report: MEMS Coastal Wetland Rehabilitation- eDNA Fish Monitoring of Everlasting and Tuckean Swamps

Everlasting and Tuckean swamps are among the largest freshwater wetlands on the New South Wales North Coast.

In the post-European settlement era, both swamps were heavily modified.

This included the installation of extensive networks of drains, channels, floodgates, weirs, levees and the modification of natural waterways.

This blocked catchment and tidal flows and fish passage. It also resulted in major water quality issues due mainly to leeching of acid-sulphate soils, nutrient imbalances and infestation by aquatic weeds.

The aim of this project was to determine the fish species present within both wetlands and the surrounding waterways using a rapid sampling technique, Environmental DNA (eDNA).

When combined with traditional fish monitoring techniques, it builds a baseline against which the success of any future large scale wetland rehabilitation activities can be evaluated.

From February‒April 2023, eDNA water samples were collected in and adjacent to Everlasting and Tuckean swamps across six zones, with five sites sampled within each zone at high and low tide.

Read the report MEMS Coastal Wetland Rehabilitation eDNA Fish Monitoring of Everlasting and Tuckean Swamps (PDF, 1833.92 KB)

Live stream images of Clybucca Wetlands

Two live stream cameras are now active along the lower Macleay River for the Clybucca Wetlands Rehabilitation project.

Viewers can access the live feed at Clybucca monitoring | Water Research Laboratory - UNSW Sydney.

These cameras will help monitor land management, record flood events, observe wildlife (including feral animals and unauthorised grazing), and track vegetation changes over time.

This data will supplement the water quality monitoring program, which is also accessible through a live web portal hosted by UNSW.

Lead agency

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Fisheries

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