Australia

Australia – Great Southern Seascapes

Habitats: Saltmarshes, mangroves and seagrass

Benefits: Fisheries, recreation and tourism, blue carbon,coastal protection

Application: Mapping Ocean Wealth

Pilot sites: Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay in southern Victoria & Richmond River Estuary in northern New South Wales

Aerial view of the Indian Ocean coastline of Western Australia showing tidal flats and water flow patterns as the Great Sandy Desert meets the ocean just south of Broome, Australia. Photo Credit: Mark Godfrey

Mapping Ocean Wealth will create a new paradigm towards southern seascapes by changing the way we value, support and resource marine restoration and protection. We will generate new information to inform and influence policy and decision makers integrating marine ecosystem services into decisions about investment, planning, coastal protection and risk mitigation.

The southern coastlines of temperate Australia are home to some of the most diverse collections of underwater seascapes in the world. From giant kelp forests, to vast seagrass meadows, cool-water corals and kaleidoscopic sponge gardens, 85 percent of the estimated 12,000 marine species here are found nowhere else on Earth.

These seascapes provide over 19 million Australians (80 percent of the total population) and five-out-of-eight capital cities with fresh seafood, abundant recreational opportunities and critical waste treatment and removal. Paradoxically, however, southern seascapes are also known as the “forgotten coastlines.” Until now, relatively little attention has been paid to protecting or restoring coastal habitats and the essential human services they provide from exploitation, coastal development and coastal eutrophication.

Mapping Ocean Wealth will create a new paradigm towards Australia’s southern seascapes by changing the way we value, support and resource marine restoration and protection. We will generate new information to inform and influence policy and decision makers to integrate marine ecosystem services into decisions about investment, planning, coastal protection and risk mitigation. By describing and mapping these values, and by accurately communicating them, we believe that we can reach a vast audience and harness a wealth of new energy to rapidly accelerate the scale of estuary coastal restoration and protection across Australia’s temperate coastline.

Our Australian project is initiating in 2016 and will focus on modelling and mapping the social and economic values of saltmarsh, seagrass and mangrove habitats through fisheries, recreation, tourism, blue carbon and coastal protection. We use a geographically nested, case study approach with a focus on marine habitats that occur in central Victoria and northern New South Wales, specifically Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay (Victoria) and the Richmond River/Tuckean Swamp estuary (NSW).