Turning the Tide on Saltmarsh Loss – Because it Matters
A new tool will allow anyone to help protect one of Tasmania’s most important and vulnerable ecosystems.
The Saltmarsh Matters app lets members of the public record information on saltmarsh condition, birdlife and human impacts.
NRM South have worked with the University of Tasmania’s saltmarsh expert Vishnu Prahalad, and Esk Mapping and GIS, to develop the app. This builds on previous work by BirdLife Tasmania and NRM North in developing saltmarsh monitoring techniques.
NRM South CEO Donald Coventry said that the value of saltmarshes was just being understood.
“We now know just how important these habitats are for the health of our oceans and estuaries. They capture and filter run-off, act as nurseries for fisheries, and support communities of plants and animals. Healthy saltmarshes also lock up and store large reserves of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.”
With the loss of up to half of saltmarshes in southern Australia it was important that action was taken immediately to minimise further loss, Mr Coventry said.
Mr Prahalad said that about 113 bird species use Tasmania’s coastal saltmarsh wetlands, with local saltmarshes providing vital habitat for at least 33 species.
“In light of the recent alarming changes to the threatened status of several migratory birds that visit and use Tasmanian wetlands, the type of information that will be collected using this app will be important to the ongoing conservation of saltmarsh habitats and the species that rely on them,” Mr Prahalad said.
Temperate coastal saltmarsh is a threatened community protected under Australian Government legislation since 2013. NRM South has supported research and monitoring of saltmarsh as part of an ongoing commitment to the care and protection of southern Tasmania’s coasts and waterways.
This app will feed information back to researchers at a state-wide level, providing vital clues about the health of different saltmarsh sites. This information is crucial, allowing researchers and managers to detect and respond to any significant changes.
The new Saltmarsh Matters app can be downloaded from iTunes, or accessed via our resources page. The app is supported by a hardcopy saltmarsh plants ID book, available through the regional NRMs, Hobart bookshops or direct from Vishnu Prahalad. Also available as both hardcopy and in downloadable form are monitoring checklists and a saltmarsh birds poster, funded by NRM North and illustrated by Rachel Tribout.
All the three NRMs and BirdLife Tasmania support the use of the App and provide occasional training support directly or through interested community groups. Funding provided by NRM North and NRM South is via Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.