Mangroves are plants that live in the intertidal zone. They hold sediment with their roots, are extremely important for trapping and storing carbon from the atmosphere, and provide habitat for a variety of animals such as oysters, spiders, birds, crabs and fish. They also hold cultural value for many people.

The 2019-2020 bushfires affected many coastal areas in NSW, and for the first time, we saw mangroves burn extensively, or die due to the extreme heat. If the affected mangrove forests don’t recover, the consequences may be dire for wildlife and water quality.

A collaboration between OceanWatch, MangroveWatch, local Landcare groups and oyster farmers set off in late 2021 to measure the damage to mangroves in the South Coast, and assisted their recovery by collecting seedlings that were stuck on oyster growing infrastructure.

We created a small nursery where we grew hundreds of grey mangrove seedlings, which were then looked after by local oyster farmers, before heading back out to the burnt mangrove sites and planting them into the mud following expert advice, and then monitoring their survival.

This project of discovery and resilience has formed a fantastic network of scientists, community and oyster farmers, and will hopefully be the baseline for continuing to help mangroves and their related wildlife recover from the bushfires now and into the future.

For more information about OceanWatch projects on bushfire recovery, please reach out to claudia@oceanwatch.org.au

The Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery project has been supported by the Australian Government’s Bushfire Recovery Program for Wildlife and their Habitat.

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