Thanks to project cost savings we’ve been able to install additional protection of Saltmarsh Habitat in Western Port!
After the completion of protection fencing at our first Western Port site (~10 hectares), we had some cost savings, which allowed us to protect additional saltmarsh in the region! Our project partner Parks Victoria was able to identify an additional 5 hectare site that also required protection from livestock grazing. This site is located in Western Port, just north of the mouth of the Bass River, and comprises both private and public land (Reef Island and Bass River Nature Conservation Reserve -NCR).
Our project partner Thierry Rolland, a Parks Victoria Senior Marine Ranger, has been engaging local landowners in the Western Port and educating them about the importance of saltmarsh vegetation. Through careful negotiations, Thierry was able to engage private landowners in protecting the saltmarsh habitat on their private land from grazing livestock through the installation of fencing.
In April 2020 fencing installation at the new site took place, with over 500 meters of fencing installed (blue lines)! An existing fence across the saltmarsh (yellow line) prevented livestock from grazing on the saltmarsh to the west of the fence (part of the Reef Island and Bass River NCR), which resulted in a significant portion of the saltmarsh being in good condition. The Blue Carbon Lab will use the Reef Island and Bass River NCR side as a reference healthy saltmarsh to compare the recovery of the highly degraded side (1.5 ha), east of the fence. In the degraded area, significant bare patches lacking vegetation exist and places with vegetation appear unhealthy. The soil is also highly compacted from cattle trampling.
The Blue Carbon Lab will monitor this site to see how various ecosystem functions recover over the next 12-24 months including soil health, microbe communities, carbon content, vegetation coverage, and bird diversity.