Where the River Meets the Sea: Glebe’s Coastal Saltmarsh

By Charlotte Simpson-Young and Asa Wahlquist

Along Johnstons Creek and at Federal Park Wetlands you will find an example of coastal saltmarsh. This plant community occurs in the intertidal zone of estuaries and lagoons, and often on the inland sides of areas of mangroves. Here they find their preferred habitat of thick sediment and a relatively still combination of saltwater and freshwater.

Vegetation Map of the Glebe Foreshore. The areas in pink are saltmarsh and mangrove forest.

Vegetation Map of the Glebe Foreshore. The areas in pink are saltmarsh and mangrove forest.

Saltmarsh can contain species not found in any other plant community and are an important part of both marine and land ecosystems. They are nurseries and breeding grounds for fish species, habitat and food source for birds, notably migratory birds.

Sadly, Coastal Saltmarsh has a very hard time in urban areas. As happened here in the 1890s, a lot of saltmarshes have been converted to other land use activities and physically altered through dredging and wier building. Pollution and weeds enter from stormwater and parkland. And of course, climate change, changing rainfall and sea level rises will significantly impact them. As a result, it listed as endangered at the State level and vulnerable at the Federal level.

Just off Chapman Avenue is a 0.2-hectare tidally-influenced saltmarsh system that supports a range of estuarine plants. It was formed in 2001 when two previously underground large stormwater pipes were exposed, and a weir constructed. Freshwater drains in from a 13-hectare catchment, mixing with the tidal saltwater. The wetland is still a work in progress. The City of Sydney 2013 Johnstons Creek Master Plan states “there are opportunities to improve the freshwater treatment by retaining the saltmarsh and extending this drainage system”.

Stormwater pipes that were exposed to create the saltmarsh (C.Simpson-Young)

Stormwater pipes that were exposed to create the saltmarsh (C.Simpson-Young)

For the original articles go to Asa Wahlquist’s website.

For more posts on the Glebe Foreshore:

Under the Terrace Houses: Glebe before European Settlement

Biodiversity in Urban Sydney: the Glebe Foreshore Walk

A Concrete Creek: Glebe’s Johnstons Creek

The Last Mangroves in the City: Jubilee Park Mangroves

Historical Palms at Jubilee Park


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