Coastal and marine ecosystems

Our marine and coastal environments support many species unique to southern Australia as well as tourism, commercial and recreational fishing. 

In the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges (AMLR) region there are 4627 square kilometres of marine waters and 333 kilometres of coastline stretching from Middleton Beach on the Fleurieu, to Mallala north of Adelaide. Within this area you can find extensive mangrove forests, samphire marshes, coastal seagrass meadows and rocky reefs.

These coast and marine environments provide an important habitat, nursery and feeding grounds for an incredible variety of aquatic and terrestrial life. The AMLR natural resources management plan identifies targets to protect these areas.

Protecting our coast

Everyone is responsible for the environment in which we live, but unfortunately we don’t all understand or appreciate the value of our natural resources, or know how our actions impact on them.

Volunteers play a major role. Their contribution of time, energy, expertise, equipment and resources is immeasurable. They work hard, but more hands are needed. Community education is the key. Natural Resources AMLR frequently runs workshops on wide-ranging topics to encourage behaviour change and community action. The Coastal Ambassadors’ program provides education and skills development to participants to care for, monitor and protect our unique coast and marine environments.

To help protect our native species and the beautiful marine environment they call home, South Australia has created a system of marine parks as an investment in the state’s future.

Coastal conservation

A major part of coast and estuary conservation work involves revegetating degraded areas with local native plants, controlling invasive pests and fencing to minimise impacts. This is achieved through partnerships with coastal community groups, local government and state agency coastal managers.

Plant a coastal garden

You can have your own healthy and attractive coastal garden using native plants. The award winning Coastal gardens - a planting guide helps you choose plants that thrive in the harsh coastal environment. If you live within three kilometres of the coast, your garden can face many challenges – salt spray, sand blasting and sandy or saline soils. The guide is tailored for metropolitan Adelaide and its outer regions (Middleton to Mallala) and provides step-by-step advice on selecting, planting and caring for local native coastal plants. There are four landscape designs to inspire you!

Marine environments

The health of our seas are affected by the things we do on land. Land-based impacts to marine habitats such as reefs and seagrass meadows, include nutrients and sediments from stormwater, wastewater and industrial discharges.

A report, Nearshore marine habitats of the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM region: values, threats and actions, 2013, aims to increase awareness of these impacts and help prioritise work with partners such as local councils, other state agencies and the community, building on the region’s coastal action plans. Considerable work has already been done or is underway to address many of these issues.

The report identifies locations where there is potentially a threat to nearshore habitats from a land-based discharge, and recognises existing programs seeking to mitigate these threats. One program is a seagrass rehabilitation trial which represents an opportunity for recovery and protection of habitats. A three year pilot is being undertaken by the NRM board with SARDI Aquatic Sciences off the metropolitan coast.

Due to the size of the report it has been split into the following sections:

Marine habitat mapping

Looking out to sea, it’s hard to imagine the diverse habitats underneath the water. We are learning more about these environments with detailed sonar and video maps of our nearshore waters to a depth of 20 metres or a distance of five kilometres offshore. These maps provide an important baseline for us to monitor changes and help plan for the management of our coast.

Reef, seagrass and mudflats

Natural Resources AMLR works with scientists, multiple government agencies and other organisations to find ways of improving reef and seagrass ecosystem health in the region.

Through monitoring and investigating marine habitats, we can help ensure that the condition of reefs and seagrass meadows is preserved and maintained.  Mudflat condition monitoring is also undertaken and the board is working with researchers to develop Citizen Science methodologies to help with this monitoring, which will assist our shorebird monitoring and conservation work.

Related links

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges