NCIG Shorebird Rehabilitation Project

Date: 25 June 2018

Shorebirds
Port tenant, NCIG was recently awarded a PIANC Working With Nature Certificate for their Shorebird Rehabilitation project on Ash Island. The Certificate was awarded at the recent PIANC 2018 congress in Panama and is one of only two Australian projects to ever receive this prestigious award.
BEYOND OUR BOUNDARIES
Since the Port lease commenced in May 2014, the Port of Newcastle has been an active contributor to the management of local environmental initiatives. The Hunter Wetlands National Park, home to the international significant Ramsar wetlands is our most important ecological neighbour.  
THE CHALLENGE
The tidal wetlands around the Port of Newcastle are home to a number of threatened species and communities. These include the coastal saltmarsh vegetation and numerous species of migratory shorebirds. 
 
In 2016, NCIG commenced a Shorebird Rehabilitation project as a requirement of their Project Approval to re-establish habitat for shore birds  and the endangered coastal saltmarsh ecological community.  It then went above-and-beyond their compliance requirements, increasing the scope area from 8ha and 24ha to enable a better environmental outcome to be achieved.
THE SOLUTION
The project involved the removal of a large area of mangroves that had encroached on a former area of saltmarsh and mudflats on Ash Land. The mangroves were determined to be a key causing factor in the decline of the saltmarsh.
 
One of the first challenges the project faced was ensuring the removed mangrove species were unable to return, which would assist the saltmarsh in re-establishing on the site. NCIG worked closely with UNSW Water Research Laboratory and Local Land Services to install a specifically designed culvert and valve system to control tidal flooding and prevent mangrove seeds from being able to enter. 
 
Port of Newcastle joined the project to assist with the management of a patch of mangroves located on its land adjoining NCIG's project site. The Port set to work on a 12 month saltmarsh rehabilitation project to assist with the overall success of NCIG's project, securing the relevant approvals and completing pre-clearance surveys completed by a qualified ecologist. 
THE RESULT
Saltmarsh is now sprouting up across the entire project site and migratory birds have returned to the area. Migratory birds identified to date include the critically endangered Curlew Sandpipe and Whimbrel.
 
Port of Newcastle continues to conduct annual monitoring that will provide valuable data on the status and health of coastal saltmarsh in the lower Hunter River area.
 
NCIG's certificate is testament to its commitment to the environment and the local Hunter Estuary wetlands.
 
"It's an illustration that the process adopted through integrating stakeholder engagement, cutting edge research and sound environmental practices can achieve tangible outcomes which are considered world's best practice. The great beneficiary of this project however is local wetland communities and the vulnerable and endangered migratory shorebird species which rely on them." 
Aaron Johansen, NCIG CEO.

 
"Port of Newcastle recognises its boundary is just a line on a map and it resides within an important, multi-facetted natural ecosystem. We are committed to supporting our ecological neighbours and partnering with stakeholders across the Port to deliver best-practice outcomes for the benefit of our environment and community." 
Geoff Crowe, PORT OF NEWCASTLE CEO.