Community help needed to support a new monitoring program for the Tamar

Community help needed to support a new monitoring program for the Tamar

With help from the public, a new program will improve our understanding of a range of species and ecological communities and enhance our understanding of ecosystem health in the Kanamaluka/Tamar estuary. 

As part of the Tamar Estuary and Esk Rivers (TEER) Program, the Biological Monitoring Program pilot will assess emergent tidal wetlands, seagrass meadows, bird populations and Gambusia Holbrooki population trends. Community members are being encouraged to take part through four Fluker Posts to be installed at emergent tidal wetland habitats. TEER Program Manager, Darren McPhee, said the Fluker Posts will allow the public to contribute photos from the same location over time.  

For tidal wetlands, broad-scale changes in the ecosystem can be captured through repeat photography, such as erosion along the edge of waterways and the presence of invasive species like rice grass. By using the Fluker Posts, the community will assist in developing a visual data base that will help to improve our understanding of how things are changing over time, which is essential for effective management. 

“Understanding how the ecosystem is changing is essential to its effective management, and for emergent tidal wetlands general changes can be captured through repeat photography. We know these areas are important to the community and we are excited to provide the opportunity for people to contribute to the monitoring of our local wetlands,” said Mr McPhee. 

The four Fluker Posts will be installed at the Tailrace boardwalk, Windsor Precinct freshwater wetland, Tamar Island Wetlands Reserve, and George Town Kanamaluka trail, and will be accompanied by educational signage about each wetland type.  

All these areas are widely used recreational areas for the community, and home to some of the Tamar Valley’s valuable saltmarsh communities and biodiversity hotspots. Wetlands are particularly important ecosystems with high biodiversity and offer a range of benefits from mitigating climate change to acting as natural water filters. The Biological Monitoring Program aims to ensure these key wetland habitats and the wider Kanamaluka/Tamar estuary can sustain the numerous natural, cultural, and human use values into the future. To achieve this, the Biological Monitoring Program will assess tidal wetland condition and extent, as well as seagrass meadows in the lower estuary, bird populations and Gambusia Holbrooki population trends to enhance our understanding of ecosystem health and inform future management decisions. 

With data provided by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service volunteer, John Duggin, and Birdlife Tasmania volunteer, Ralph Cooper, the Biological Monitoring Program will monitor changes through time to give a greater understanding of the waterway. 

Wetlands are now recognised as incredibly important ecosystems, however, that was not always the case. The wetlands of the Kanamaluka/Tamar estuary have experienced historical declines in their extent through in-filling, the construction of levees, and development for urban and agricultural expansion. To identify trends in the health of the remaining wetlands along the Kanamaluka/Tamar estuary, and to gain a better understanding of what changes are occurring locally, it is necessary to conduct long-term monitoring. The Biological Monitoring Program aims to achieve this and collect and report on evidence-based data to inform future management decisions.   

Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Roger Jaensch, congratulated all those involved in establishing this unique program. 

“The biological values of the Kanamaluka are important not only to the species that rely on them, but to the community as well,” Minister Jaensch said. 

“The Rockliff Liberal Government is investing $65,000 per year until 2024 to support the monitoring program, helping increase our understanding and ability to effectively manage these valuable habitats and natural resources.” he said. 

The TEER Program has commenced monitoring of tidal wetlands including freshwater wetlands, saltmarsh, and Melaleuca Ericifolia swamp forests at numerous sites along the Kanamaluka/Tamar estuary, in January 2023. Along with the imagery captured at each of the four Fluker Posts, this data will be analysed in the coming months, with the results included in the Biological Monitoring Program report scheduled for release in 2024. 

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