Gladstone Ports Corporation – Seawall habitat enhancement

Gladstone Ports Corporation (GPC) and CQUniversity are undertaking a project within the Port of Gladstone, investigating the creation of new intertidal sediment habitat adjacent to reclamation areas. This project and partnership is currently being driven via two co-funded PhD research scholarships, with a third being planned to progress this important research.

The research aims to determine cost-effective methods of construction, recruitment facilitation, and the timing of implementation, to enable the scale-up of coastal restoration. It also contributes to the knowledge base of coastal restoration practices by improving the understanding of key coastal species. The pilot study involved the creation of rock groynes and adjacent sediment banks at the optimal height for mangrove recruitment. Preliminary results from the project are showing successful growth of mangroves (both planted and naturally colonizing) and it is therefore proposed to scale up this success.

The overarching goal of the project is to scale the placement of nature-based solutions to extend the “living seawall” habitat creation of mangrove and oyster habitat and expand to seagrass habitat in the Port of Gladstone and eventually scale up to other GPC Port locations. The research aim is to assess the contribution of these living seawall habitats to increasing biodiversity and key ecosystem services, including:

  • Blue Carbon sequestration,
  • nutrient cycling,
  • water quality,
  • fish habitat,
  • bird foraging, and
  • coastal erosion, by providing resilience to sea-level rise

This will allow the development of methods for the nature-based accounting of services provided. The expected outcomes are an understanding of the contribution of constructed nature-based solutions to ecosystem services and the economic value of these services to inform cost-benefit analyses. The project will provide essential information for the future incorporation of habitat enhancement into shoreline protection, whether required for industrial / urban development, or the resilience of existing coastlines due to climate change and rising sea levels.