Marine ecologists have had a chance to show their green thumbs on a new foreshore project which brings specially designed flowerpots to Sydney Harbour’s seawalls.
The project features 60 concrete pots, some lined with coconut-fibre mats, attached to foreshore seawalls as a way of attracting and protecting vulnerable marine life.
Researchers hope the pots will continue the success of a Glebe foreshore trial project, where at least 28 new species, such as starfish, crabs, algae and smaller fish varieties were recorded in Blackwattle Bay.
“When we put artificial structures in marine environments, like seawalls, pylons and pontoons, we are replacing the natural habitat with one that isn’t as good for marine life,” Sydney University marine ecologist Rebecca Morris said.
“One of the reasons is the way they are constructed. They are built to be very flat and exactly the same for hundreds of metres along the shore, but a natural foreshore is never like that.”
Ms Morris worked on the original trial at Glebe Foreshore Walk West, Farm Cove at the Royal Botanic Gardens and Beare Park in Elizabeth Bay.
“The original project saw a sharp increase in the variety of marine organisms colonising the flowerpots. We’re using the new pots and additional locations to fill in our knowledge gaps from the first project to see if we can further increase the effectiveness of the seawall pots and enhance biodiversity.”
The project has received a $104,000 grant from the Australian government.
Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore said it was a “highly innovative” way to increase biodiversity in the city’s waterways.
“We’re working to create a new aquatic corridor along Sydney’s seawall foreshore from Glebe to Farm Cove and through to Elizabeth Bay, providing a connected channel of man-made rock pools for vulnerable marine life,” she said.
“Sydney Harbour is one of the world’s great harbours, we need to protect and grow its unique and diverse marine life.”
More than 50 per cent of Sydney’s natural foreshore has been replaced by man-made seawalls, which Ms Morris said has prompted the need to find new ways of fostering biodiversity.
“What we’re trying to do is use these small-scale projects as an example for new developments so it’s actually a lot easier to redesign foreshore developments [to] incorporate these marine habitats.”
She pointed to foreshore developments at Kogarah and Barangaroo as some of the first to successfully experiment with seawall pots.
“You can’t knock down every seawall and rebuild it, so the enhancements and design in this project would be appropriate for existing seawalls.”
Read article at The Sydney Morning Herald