Vehicle blocks aim to regenerate Emu Point saltmarsh after damage

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Vehicle tracks at the Emu Point saltmarsh.
Camera IconVehicle tracks at the Emu Point saltmarsh. Credit: Damien Rathbone

A saltmarsh at Emu Point which has been damaged by vehicles will have a second chance after work to control and stop off-road vehicle access at the site.

The saltmarsh is currently listed as vulnerable under national legislation and comprises a diversity of short, salt-tolerant plants such as samphire.

Access points to the saltmarsh have now been blocked with rocks and gates by the City of Albany and South Coast NRM through funding from the Federal National Landcare Program.

South Coast NRM regional ecologist Bronte Van Helden said the site would take years to recover.

“By driving over the Saltmarsh, the vegetation is flattened and largely destroyed, and requires many years to regenerate once damaged,” she said.

“Damaging the vegetation so significantly also disrupts the important ecosystem services that this community provides and our wildlife lose their habitat.

“Australia has seen a decline in the condition and distribution of coastal saltmarsh from land clearing, recreational activities, poor water quality, grazing and, increasingly, climate change.”

Access point blocked with rocks.
Camera IconAccess point blocked with rocks. Credit: Bronte Van Helden/Bronte Van Helden

Ms Van Helden said the saltmarsh provided many essential ecosystem services.

“This not only aids in improving water quality — through water filtration, carbon sequestration and coastal stabilisation — but it provides important nursery habitat and feeding areas for many animals including fish, crustacea and local and migratory shorebirds,” she said.

“The numerous insects that use these areas also provide our native bats an important food resource.

“The main thing is that because of their short and scrubby appearance, the community is often misunderstood and thought to be barren and not worth conserving.

“The opposite is true — they are highly productive communities and important to a plethora of wildlife.”

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