Samphire Coast Icon Project

Just north of Adelaide on the coast of Gulf St Vincent lies one of South Australia’s most important areas for migratory and resident shorebirds. Dubbed the “Samphire Coast” for its vast network of natural samphire saltmarshes, this area supports nationally and internationally significant numbers of migratory and resident shorebirds, as well as bush birds and seabirds, including the Samphire Thornbill, Elegant Parrot, Rock Parrot, Little Egret and Fairy Tern. It’s even been known to host the odd wintering Orange-bellied Parrot or two!

At least 52 shorebird species, including 37 migratory ones, have been recorded in the Samphire Coast area. Many of these species migrate from our coast through south-east Asia, China, Korea and Japan to the northern hemisphere to breed in the arctic summers in Mongolia and Siberia. This range of flight paths and stopovers is called the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Some of these species occur in internationally significant numbers, others are vagrant species, rarely seen.

The project focuses on shorebirds, threatened remnant samphires, saltmarshes and mangroves which are significant at regional and state levels. It includes major on-ground works to restore habitats and manage the threats at key sites; and coordinates strategic efforts across agency, local government and community and industry partners, for long term species conservation and habitat protection, including planning for future habitat retreat. 

Globally, temperate coastal saltmarshes are recognised as a significant carbon sink, with the highest estimated long term carbon accumulation rates of any ecosystem type ( 210 g C /m²/year).

The Samphire Coast is part of the EPBC-listed subtropical and temperate coastal saltmarsh threatened ecological community and contains the largest area of critical habitat for the nationally vulnerable Bead Samphire (Tecticornia flabelliformis). It also supports many regionally significant species, including coastal-dependent reptiles and rare butterflies.

Further information

Related links

Lead agency

BirdLife Australia and Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board


Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board, Adelaide Plains Council, Department for Environment and Water.

Funding partners

Australian government logo


Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges