Restoring Coastal Ecosystems for the Great Barrier Reef and the RAMSAR Wetlands of Bowling Green Bay (19527)
It is becoming well recognised that healthy coastal ecosystems including freshwater wetlands are critical for the long term health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef (Informing the Outlook for GBR Coastal Ecosystems 2012). The Lower Burdekin floodplain supports a regionally important sugarcane industry however, landscape scale changes made to support this development has resulted in significant changes. Relatively high groundwater levels and perennial surface flows in streams which were ephemeral prior to construction of Burdekin Falls Dam now provide ideal conditions for the proliferation of exotic invasive species: salvinia (Salvinia molesta), water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), Olive hymenachne (Hymenachne amplexicaulis)), as well as native species (Typha spp.) (refer Figure 1), resulting in significant loss of ecological service and function in the internationally recognised Ramsar Wetlands of Bowling Green Bay.
Previous efforts to manage the threats to the Ramsar wetlands relied on traditional means of mechanical and chemical control of invasive weeds. While these efforts involving farmers and institutional land managers were in themselves very successful, it ignored the somewhat unique and overwhelming problem of too much water in the system. The project described here is developing a strategic and long term solution by using the underlying features of the landscape to manipulate environmental factors to reduce the threat of invasive pests and to restore ecological function to these priority coastal ecosystems.