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Threats to estuarine vegetation

Published 13 February 2023 Understanding the effects of human activities on seagrass, mangrove and saltmarsh.
content image Mangrove and saltmarsh habitats photographed from a drone showing standard imagery, multispectral imagery and habitats mapped using artificial intelligence techniques.


Seagrass, mangrove and saltmarsh are important habitats in estuaries for a wide variety of animals and plants including species caught or collected by recreational and commercial fishers. These estuarine habitats are under threat from a range of disturbances including coastal development and pollution.  Monitoring these areas is essential to identify impacts and to help with management decisions.

This project maps the changes in the area of estuarine habitats and the locations of impacts to these habitats.  It uses new artificial intelligence techniques to identify species from aerial pictures and to assess the condition of some habitats.

Specialised images (multispectral) are taken by drones or satellites to identify different species of vegetation and estimate habitat condition.

Disturbances to estuarine habitats that are being mapped in certain estuaries include:

  • jetties and pontoons
  • boat moorings
  • 4WD damage to saltmarshes
  • bushfires

Estuarine habitat dashboard

NSW DPI Fisheries has developed a new data dashboard for visualising and interrogating the estuarine habitat mapping done over the past 40 years.

This is the first time this entire data set has been presented in single location. This new dashboard enables the viewing of the latest as well as historic datasets back to the early 1980s, analysis of change and a summary of change per habitat for each mapped estuary.

The dashboard also displays disturbances to macrophyte habitats, including jetties, pontoons, off-road vehicle damage and areas that were affected by the 2019/2020 bushfires.

To access the dashboard please visit the NSW Estuarine Habitat Dashboard.



  • Recent maps of estuarine habitats: Pittwater, Port Jackson, Lake Illawarra, Minnamurra River, Lake Conjola, Burrill Lake, Wagonga Inlet
  • Habitat maps due in 2020: Botany Bay, Jervis Bay, St. Georges Basin, Hasting River
  • Determining different species and condition assessments: Port Stephens, Tilba Tilba Lake.

Local government areas - Statewide

Lead agency

Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries

More information

Habitat maps are available on the DPI Fisheries Spatial Data Portal

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