Saltmarsh and intertidal habitats within Corner Inlet and Nooramunga coastlines support a range of threatened species. These include the orange-bellied parrot, chestnut teal, pied oystercatcher, sooty oystercatcher, eastern curlew, red-necked stint, pacific gull and fairy tern.
Unfortunately, these habitats have suffered significant historic losses. Since 1750, saltmarsh, mangroves and estuarine wetlands have decreased by 45%. The extent of these habitats along the Nooramunga coast have also declined by 17%. 8,200 hectares of saltmarsh and associated vegetation communities remains along these coastlines. Of this, about 1,100 hectares occurs on private land.
Coastal saltmarsh habitats continue to face a range of threats. Some threats are challenging for private landholders to control on individual properties, for example, sea level rise driven by climate change. However, there are threats that can be controlled at the property scale. These involve localised human behaviour and land use, such as livestock grazing of saltmarsh.
In response to these threats, several successful saltmarsh protection projects have been delivered over the last 15 years.
Natural resource management agencies, organisations and landholders have delivered these projects under West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority’s Corner Inlet Connections’ brand. Much of the effort has focussed on raising community awareness of the significant conservation value of saltmarsh habitats. On-ground works have physically protected and enhanced saltmarsh areas.
Trust for Nature helps private landholders permanently protect areas of private land for conservation purposes. It establishes legally binding Conservation Covenants registered on the title of the land. Trust for Nature secures land through acquisition by its Revolving Fund and covenanting prior to resale.
In 2019, Trust for Nature completed a desktop study which identified areas of saltmarsh on 139 private properties along the Corner Inlet and Nooramunga coastlines. 66 were identified and ranked for their suitability and importance as sites to be permanently protected.
On-ground works to protect and enhance habitat condition are being conducted. This is accompanied by a monitoring program to identify change in condition over time. These activities are occurring alongside complementary project works by WGCMA and partners. This includes private landholders, philanthropists, and the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation.
This project is supported by the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA), through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and philanthropy.
Read more about the health of Corner Inlet and Nooramunga’s habitats in the State of the Marine and Coastal Environment 2021 Report.