Prior to European settlement, the Peel region on the Swan Coastal Plain of Australia consisted of a vast network of swamps, rivers, estuaries and coastal dunes, supporting the Nyungar people and was considered to be one of the most productive areas in Western Australia. The channelization of the Peel-Harvey catchment for fruit and dairy farms dramatically changed the region from its once lush landscape to a much drier system that is now part of the fastest growing region in Western Australia. While a lot of work has been done to rehabilitate the wetlands and riparian areas and reconnect the natural hydrology, not much attention has been paid to the marine habitats.
The mangroves, salt marches, seagrasses and shellfish reefs that provide a number of benefits to coastal communities including fish production, recreation, water filtration, and coastal protection. Restoration of these areas addresses the growing threats to urban development, fisheries decline, and climate change on the health and resilience of this region.
This project will begin with outreach through a series of workshops to local stakeholders with international experts regarding the benefits of and array of approaches to restore marine habitats. Next, environmental social and economic data will be used to inform the development of an online restoration decision support tool and Conservation Action Planning process to prioritize restoration actions.
These actions will be integrated within the Australian Research Council project guiding sustainable development in the region, the existing hydrodynamic model developed by WAMSI, and the ongoing work of local universities including the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Greening Australia, and the Western Australian Government.