St Kilda mangroves

The Dry Creek salt field in the vicinity of the St Kilda mangroves is a complex 30 kilometre, 4000 hectare site which encompasses the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary and the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary.

This area provides important feeding and roosting habitat for migratory and resident shorebirds, is recognised as a wetland of national significance and is part of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Site.

It contains Temperate Saltmarsh, which is listed as a threatened ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The salt field areas to the south also form part of the Barker Inlet-St Kilda Aquatic Reserve.

The South Australian government shares the communities concern about the mangrove dieback at St Kilda in the vicinity of the Dry Creek salt field.

Approximately 10 hectares of mangroves and 35 hectares of intertidal saltmarsh at St Kilda within the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park – Winaityinaityi Pangkara (AIBS) have been affected.

Experts from the Department for Energy and Mining (DEM), the Department for Environment and Water (DEW), the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and the University of Adelaide, along with external consultants, are collaborating to:

  • stop further impact
  • promote conditions for recovery of the affected areas
  • establish long-term environmental stability for the mangrove and wider ecosystem.

This includes accurately defining the areas of impact and using more precise high-resolution imagery sources. 

What’s happening?

DEW is working closely with DEM and the EPA to understand this complex issue.

A project team is undertaking scientific investigations to understand why the dieback has occurred, how any further impact can be stopped, how recovery of the ecosystem can be supported, and how to ensure the health of the local coastal environment into the future. 

Latest updates

25 Feb 2020: Restoration workshop

Together with the Salisbury Council, DEW is hosting a workshop to discuss and develop plans for the restoration of the areas impacted around St Kilda.  While it is expected that the environment will recover itself once the conditions are right, there are activities that can be undertaken to assist and fast track the natural recovery. 

The workshop includes expertise from the community, universities, council and government.

The workshop will discuss options and develop a planned approach to the restoration and monitoring including community involvement where appropriate.

17 Feb 2020: Mapping work underway

DEW is currently leading the development of methods to map and monitor the condition of the affected vegetation in the area.

Historic and new remote sensing data from satellites, planes and drones is being used in conjunction with ground level information to map dead and impacted vegetation and to monitor any further changes in their condition.

These analyses will be used to inform the community and stakeholders on the extent of the impact to the mangroves and saltmarsh habitats adjacent to the ponds.

On-ground assessment of vegetation impacts has been undertaken and will be repeated over time as required. 

Further information

DEM is the lead regulator and regulates the salt fields site under the Mining Act 1971. The DEM website has up-to-date information on the current activities underway.

The WaterConnect web portal provides access to the latest information about South Australia's water resources, providing users with direct access to water-related publications and data. Groundwater level and salinity information from the St Kilda mangroves piezometer network is available via the portal. Download instructions on how to access this specific information.