Human
Influences

Australia’s mangrove habitats are influenced profoundly and decisively by human attitudes of the day where different communities have quite distinct management practices. Such practices closely match cultural attitudes to reflect current socio-economic pressures combined with community awareness of the benefits and vulnerability of mangroves.

Over time, these can, and must, alter and adapt to reflect new or anticipated conditions – especially if we wish to preserve and sustain the rich natural heritage of mangroves in Australia.

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Current Values

Port Curtis

Industry alongside mangrove and tidal wetlands in the Port Curtis area, Queensland.

Fishing

Fishing in Pumicestone Passage, Queensland.

Australia’s mangroves suffer unfairly from a bad image. This is compounded by the often destructive practices associated with unlawful access, the refuse dumped on them, and the inadvertent damaging alterations to hydrology and drainage. Mangroves and tidal wetlands are often viewed as wastelands, as breeding grounds for mosquitos, as smelly and distasteful places, and as landfill sites for the creation of desirable land for coastal services and urban living. But, notwithstanding such views, there are many who are beginning to appreciate the numerous tangible and intangible benefits provided by mangroves.

Benefits of Mangroves

Australia’s mangroves have a broad range of benefits based on their primary and secondary production, as well as their woody biomass and forested structure. The benefits of mangroves include:- fishery products of both estuarine and coastal fishes, crustaceans and molluscs; shoreline protection based on mangrove tree and root structures in reducing erosion, and providing stand protection from waves and water movement; nutrient uptake, fixation, trapping and turnover; carbon sink and sequestration; secondary production via grazing and decomposition of mangrove plants plus associated microbial and faunal production; sediment trapping based on mangroves being a depositional site for both water and airborne sediments that help reduce turbidity of coastal waters; a habitat for specialised fauna; a nursery habitat; food resources for animals such as migratory birds and fish; occasional forest products like timber and firewood; and, visual amenity where selected mangrove trees provide shoreline beautification.

  • Nerang HedgeUsing mangroves as a trimmed hedge garden setting along the Nerang River, Queensland.
  • Bunbury BoardwalkEnjoying a beautiful day at Mangrove Cove, Leschenault Inlet, Western Australia. photo: Diana Kleine

Fisheries

Australia’s mangroves provide important nursery and habitat for important commercial fish and prawns. More than 90% of Australians eat seafood and domestic consumption continues to grow. It has been estimated that the contribution of mangrove-related species in eastern Australia is around 67% of the entire commercial catch.

Coastal Protection

Australia’s mangroves play an important role in controlling erosion and protecting coastlines. In tropical northern regions, mangroves provide a protective buffer from severe cyclones and storms that periodically lash the northern tropical coast.

Altered Value versus Natural Benefits

Mangroves are highly valued for some benefits, such as their importance for fish biomass and diversity plus coastal protection. However, mangrove areas have been steadily removed from the more populated northern estuaries over the last 150 years. These practices indicate how mangroves and tidal wetlands have been valued more for their conversion to other land-uses than for their collective benefits as a healthy natural habitat.

  • A stingray shelters amongst Rhizophora roots, Schnapper Island, Queensland.
  • Net fishingThrowing a caste net for bait in Theodilite Creek, Queensland.

Community Volunteers

A key feature of MangroveWatch is its close partnership between community volunteers and scientists from the James Cook University’s Mangrove Hub. Together they are systematically recording basic data as video and still imagery for assessments of estuarine habitat health.

Armed with expert support, training and advice, MangroveWatch volunteers in key regions are actively contributing to the monitoring of local estuaries and shorelines. An important goal in this phase of the program is to develop a network of like minded groups with the aim of producing public documents that describe important issues affecting local estuaries and mangroves, and their overall health.

Getting Involved

If you would like to find out more about us or if you like to initiate your own MangroveWatch group within your area, please contact someone at the Mangrove Hub. We will be happy to help.

  • Mangrove Hub Facilitator
  • Dr Norm Duke
  • MangroveWatch Ltd
    ABN: 44 153 297 771
  • PO Box 1250,
  • Elanora Q 4221
  • Mangrove Hub Email

Mangrove Watch Brochure

You can download our fact and information sheet (see link below) to get more information about the MangroveWatch programs.

Mangrove Watch Brochure