Little Penguin Protection

We are fortunate to have the only remaining Little Penguin breeding colony on the NSW mainland in our own backyard – Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Every May, penguins come ashore around Manly Point and North Head to breed and raise their young. They inhabit these areas through to the following March.

The Little Penguin education film highlights the threats faced by the colony at Spring Cove including boat strike, dogs, and damage to important foraging habitat such as seagrass beds. Importantly, there are things we can all do to protect the Little Penguin population and ensure they have a future at Manly.

Little Penguin’s under threat

Manly’s Little Penguin colony is listed as an endangered population under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and are protected by law, meaning there are limits on certain activities within their declared habitat area.

In December 2002 critical habitat was declared (now known as Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value). This provides greater protection for the little penguins through stricter controls of activities in areas where they build their nests, raise their young, feed and moult.

However there is still work to do, as the colony continues to be threatened by boat strikes, fishing lines and hooks, rubbish, habitat disturbance, and predators such as foxes, dogs and cats.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment regularly monitors the status of the penguin colony. At last count, the colony was estimated at 29 breeding pairs (2022-23 breeding season).

Protecting the Little Penguins

The Sydney Coastal Councils Group, in partnership with Transport for NSW (Maritime), Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), launched its Little Penguin education video (above), which aims to improve education of the boating community around protections in place at Spring Cove in Sydney Harbour.

Sydney Coastal Councils Group urges all small recreational watercraft operators to follow the boating rules in Spring Cove, Manly, designed to protect this critically endangered population of Little Penguins.

Unfortunately Little Penguins are also being injured and killed by dogs and foxes as previously reported. In June 2015, 26 Little Penguins were killed in North Head, by what is believed to be a single fox – a massive loss in a small population.

If you are near a Little Penguin colony, you can help protect these native seabirds by following these simple rules:

  • Reduce speed to four knots or below when entering North Harbour, Manly
  • Be extra careful at dawn and dusk
  • Don’t anchor in seagrass beds
  • Don’t bring dogs or cats onto beaches

Watch out, penguins about!

While the best place to see a Little Penguin in Sydney is at a zoo or aquarium, they can also sometimes be spotted foraging in the harbour, or gathering just offshore in groups (or ‘rafts’) waiting to come onto land during the breeding season. You can help the Northern Beaches Council to map their critical habitats below.

If you spot a penguin in the harbour or anywhere else within the Northern Beaches, please submit the sighting details here.

Media Releases

Find out more

For further information about Manly’s endangered penguin population, please see the NSW Department of Environment & Heritage’s website.

What’s being done to help Manly’s Little Penguin population?

Smarter Cleaner Sydney Harbour

Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) and Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) are partnering with CSIRO and the Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA) on an innovative project that applies smart technology to help reduce stormwater pollution entering Sydney Harbour. Five councils are involved in this trial: Northern Beaches, Woollahra, Blacktown, City of Parramatta and Canterbury-Bankstown.

Channel 7 recently featured the Smarter Cleaner Sydney Harbour. Watch it here!

Issues with stormwater pollution and its management

Stormwater pollution is a significant problem for coastal waterways and the wider marine estate.  Pollutants such as litter and sediment are washed off urban areas during rainfall and conveyed via the stormwater drainage network to receiving waterways.  This pollution is not only unsightly but a threat to marine life and public health.

Trapped litter in Duck Creek, Granville (Source: SCCG)

A community survey conducted as part of the development of the NSW Marine Estate Management Strategy identified stormwater as the greatest threat to the marine estate.  Similarly, stormwater pollution was identified as the highest priority threat to Sydney Harbour as part of the scoping of the Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program.

This problem has long been acknowledged.  In response, local councils and other stormwater managers have for many decades installed gross pollutant traps (GPTs) on the stormwater network to trap pollutants before they reach the waterways.  There are several thousand GPTs now in operation across Sydney and more continue to be installed.

Trash rack style GPT (Source: Stormwater NSW (2020), Guidelines for the maintenance of stormwater treatment measures)

Stormwater treatment technology has evolved considerably in this time.  GPT maintenance practices, however, continue to rely on physical inspections and fixed schedules that determine when GPTs are cleaned, irrespective of how full the GPT actually is.  That is, cleaning may occur before the unit is full, leading to higher maintenance costs, or may occur after the unit is full, meaning pollution may have bypassed the GPT.

Cleaning of a below-ground GPT (Source: Stormwater NSW (2020), Guidelines for the maintenance of stormwater treatment measures)

Improving GPT maintenance practice through smart technology

There is now an opportunity to employ the use of smart technology such as smart sensors, internet of things, digital twins and artificial intelligence (AI), to improve GPT maintenance practices.

Specifically, CSIRO has developed smart, low-cost AI-connected sensors that can be installed inside GPTs to determine when GPTs are approaching capacity and require cleaning.  This will help optimize GPT maintenance regimes, reduce the risk of pollution bypassing the GPT and reduce work, health and safety risks associated with physical inspection.

Sensor attached to stormwater pit insert in the Clarence Plains Rivulet, Hobart (Source: CSIRO Marine Debris Team)

Camera attached to bridge in the Northern Beaches Council

In addition, AI-connected cameras can be installed over stormwater channels to monitor and estimate the amount of floating litter conveyed to receiving waterways.  This will assist in catchment-based stormwater planning by, for example, quantifying pollutant loads, identifying pollutant hotspots within the catchment and evaluating the effectiveness of existing GPTs.

A partnership approach

After a successful initial trial of smart technology in Hobart, CSIRO is partnering with SCCG and PRCG to conduct a larger trial of this technology in Sydney.  This involves the installation of up to about 80 sensors and cameras on GPTs and waterways across Sydney Olympic Park and seven local government areas within the Greater Sydney Harbour catchment, as well as the development of a web-based analysis, decision support and reporting tool.

The project is supported through the NSW Smart Places Acceleration Program with a $545,000 grant provided by the NSW Digital Restart Fund.  SOPA is acting as the NSW state agency co-partner on this project given Sydney Olympic Park has one of the highest concentrations of GPTs in Sydney and the use of smart technology to improve asset management and reduce environmental impact aligns well with SOPA’s strategic direction.

Rain in Sydney Olympic Park (Source: Flickr user Alexey licensed under CC by 2.0)

Project Update

The project commenced in December 2022 and is expected to be completed in early 2024.  The outcomes of the project will be considered in the preparation of the Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program as well as the implementation of the Greater Sydney Harbour Regional Litter Prevention Strategy.  If the trial is successful, opportunities will be explored for expanding the application of smart technologies to other councils within the Greater Sydney Harbour catchment, and beyond.

Sand Management Working Group

The Sand Management Working Group was established in November 2019.

The group’s purpose is to ensure a collaborative approach and peer-to-peer learning in tackling sand management issues faced by councils in Sydney such as beach erosion and accretion on coastal and estuarine beaches. The group comprises member councils with an interest in sand management including Sutherland Shire, Bayside and Northern Beaches councils and Woollahra Municipal Council. It also includes key representatives from Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) as well as industry and academic representatives. Meetings are held quarterly and include expert presentations and project presentations and updates from member councils.

Sand Management, in particular beach nourishment, has been recognised as a potential adaptive option to offset the adverse impacts of seal level rise and increasing storm intensity on coastal assets including the retention of public beaches. (Gordon, 2009 ‘The Potential for Offshore Sand Sources to Offset Climate Change Impacts on Sydney’s Beaches’). The potential devastating impacts are evident from the 2016 ‘D Day Storm’ which moved 410,000m3 of sand from the Collaroy-Narrabeen beach alone during this time. Several other councils are also experiencing beach erosion and, in some areas, unwanted beach accretion which also has an impact on private and public assets. Short term and long term impacts are considered in both local and regional contexts and opportunities for broad scale regional beach nourishment programs are explored.

To date, presentations have been provided by representatives from DPIE, NPWS, University of New South Wales, Geological Survey of NSW, MidCoast Council, Hunter & Central Coast Development Corporation and all participating councils on the Sand Management Working Group. All presentations have been recorded and are available for members in the ‘Members Area’ of the SCCG website.

A copy of the Terms of Reference is also available for members in the ‘Members Area’.

Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program

Watch our education video to find out more about the Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program (GSHCMP) and how it can help improve catchment and waterway health for our iconic Harbour.


Project Summary and Progress 

Twenty councils within the Greater Sydney Harbour catchment are collaborating with state agencies to develop a whole-of-system Coastal Management Program for Greater Sydney Harbour. The SCCG is project managing the delivery of this CMP.

Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program Stage 1 Scoping Study identified urban stormwater discharge and coastal inundation with sea level rise as high priority threats. The Sydney Harbour Water Quality Improvement Plan has also been completed and provides a strong base for the development of the GSHCMP.

To assess threats posed by stormwater and coastal inundation, a Stage 2 investigation was recently completed to determine risks across all catchments feeding the Harbour and steps needed to mitigate those risks. The aim is to provide for coordinated action by councils, in partnership with state agencies and the community, to facilitate integrated waterway health management for the entire Greater Sydney Harbour system.

The Stage 2 investigation comprised of the delivery of the following inter-related studies and reports:

  • Study 1 investigated the effectiveness of stormwater management practice and climate change planning across 20 councils in the Greater Sydney Harbour
  • Study 2 identified council needs and management options for addressing stormwater discharge, waterway health and coastal inundation
  • Study 3 reviewed options for establishing a governance and sustainable funding structure that would ensure the long-term sustainable health of the catchment
  • Delivery of a series of workshops with technical experts and councils on the topic of water quality, climate change and catchment initiatives. A copy of the technical report is available on request.

The next stage, Stage 3, involves the development and evaluation of potential management options that can address those issues identified in Stage 2 in an integrated and strategic manner.

This project is supported by the NSW Government’s Coastal and Estuary Grant Program – Planning Stream.

Picture of Prof. Bruce Thom (Chair) actively engaging with stakeholders and experts in Sydney (Photo credit: Sydney Water).


Purpose of a Coastal Management Program  

Under the Coastal Management Act 2016 (CM Act) councils may prepare Coastal Management Programs (CMPs) which set out the long-term strategy for the coordinated management of the coast, with a focus on achieving the objects and objectives of the CM Act.

CMPs identify coastal management issues in the area, the actions required to address these issues, and how and when those actions will be implemented. They detail costs and proposed cost-sharing arrangements and other viable funding mechanisms.

The CM Act (and other relevant legislation) establishes specific roles and responsibilities for relevant Ministers, the NSW Coastal Council, public authorities and local councils, as well as providing opportunities for communities to participate when preparing and implementing a CMP.

You can find out more detailed information about Catchment Management Programs here.


The importance of the Greater Sydney Harbour 

Greater Sydney Harbour is one of the world’s greatest harbours and as such is a state, national and global asset. It stretches from its upper tidal limits on the Parramatta River downstream to the ocean entrance between North and South Head. Its catchments are the home of 3.07 million people (projected to go to 4.35 million by 2041) and the region is responsible for around 25% of the nation’s GDP[1].

Greater Sydney Harbour is a magnet for tourists the world over and a source of great ecological diversity. Its waters are threatened by possible adverse impacts of population growth and development and potential impacts of climate change including sea-level rise and high magnitude catchment runoff.

Key features of the Greater Sydney Harbour catchment

At the centre of Australia’s largest city, the harbour is subject to intense human activity which presents coastal managers with many challenges. Understandably, developing and delivering a whole-of-catchment CMP will be a complex task with the project team currently working with 33 stakeholders to plan and deliver the GSHCMP. Buy-in and participation by all levels of government and the community is imperative to achieving a strategic and coordinated management framework for the Harbour.

The Sydney Coastal Councils Group is the project manager for the GSHCMP. It will be whole-of-catchment and encompass Sydney Harbour tidal waterways and its catchment lands.


Conceptual Model of Wet and Dry Weather Conditions 


To download, click here.

These conceptual models show the impacts of stormwater discharge into Greater Sydney Harbour under both wet and dry weather conditions. The models were developed by Sydney Water in partnership with the SCCG, PRCG and DPE project team.


The importance of working together

A single, whole-of-system Coastal Management Program is needed to facilitate coordinated and integrated management of Australia’s most iconic and important waterway.

Local councils have a central role in managing the coast. The Sydney Coastal Councils Group promotes collaboration between member councils on environmental issues relating to the urban coastal and estuarine environment. We represent nearly 1.3 million Sydneysiders with six councils adjacent to Sydney marine and estuarine environments and associated waterways.

There are a host of benefits to working together in a holistic and integrated way as part of the Sydney Coastal Councils Group – improved environmental outcomes, improved capacity to address strategic and harbour-wide issues and interest, better communication, advocacy and promotion and efficiency savings to name a few.

Please contact SCCG if you’d like to join the many benefits of being a member council.


GSH CMP Communiques

See the latest communiques circulated to partners


Sydney Harbour, Courtesy of Department of Planning and Environment

Beach Sand Nourishment Scoping Study: Maintaining Sydney’s Beach Amenity Against Climate Change Sea Level Rise


In order to address the issues of continual shoreline erosion in these “at threat” sites to a point where decision makers can commit long-term physical and financial resources, it is essential to understand the environmental, physical and economical needs and feasibility of utilising offshore marine sand source for beach nourishment purposes. The task of assessing the feasibility of these aspects is detailed and complex and seeks to advance government policy on the potential use off marine resources of sand for nourishment purposes.

In 2008 the SCCG in partnership with its project Steering Committee obtained support under the Natural Disaster Mitigation Program to undertake this study.

Aim and Objectives

This study aims to provide a significant knowledge and resource base on these issues and develop the strategic framework and direction for addressing identified data gaps, further studies (as may be required) and data collection requirements necessary for the respective Greater Metropolitan Region councils to make more fully informed decisions on the feasibility of pursuing offshore marine sources of sand to satisfy requirements for artificial sand nourishment.

Scope of Work

The study focuses in detail on the application of sand nourishment to the proposed case study sites: Collaroy / Narrabeen, Manly and Bate Bay (Cronulla) beaches; but also provides generic consideration of sand nourishment requirements in other areas of the Greater Metropolitan Region facing immediate threat including: Pittwater LGA – Bilgola Beach; Gosford LGA: Wamberal, North Avoca and Terrigal beaches; Newcastle LGA: Stockton Beach. Similarly the study provides a generic assessment of the sand nourishment requirements to offset the loss of recreational amenity within the Sydney Greater Metropolitan Region open coast beaches from projected rise in mean sea level due to climate change.

This scoping study looked at the information, data currently available in relation to the environmental, physical, social and economic aspects of utilising these available sands to meet immediate and medium term requirements of the adopted strategies for these beach environments. The study provides a significant knowledge and resource base on these issues and developed the strategic framework and direction for addressing identified data gaps, further studies, data collection requirements and methodologies necessary to implement such a formal proposal to Government(s).







Beach Sand Nourishment Scoping Study – Maintaining Sydney’s beach Amenity Against Climate Change Sea level Rise

Media Release

Frequently Asked Questions

Facts and Figures

Quantifying the Value of Sydney’s Beaches


Sydney beaches are subject to current coastal hazards such as shoreline recession and exposure of rocks and ad-hoc seawalls due to the action of large waves. These waves are predominantly associated with the occurrence of strong depressions known as East Coast Lows (ECLs), and can lead to closure of beaches and threats to public and private property. The effects of these systems will be exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, particularly sea level rise and changes in the frequency and intensity of storm events.

In order to respond to these impacts, coastal managers and policy developers require information on the costs and benefits of each potential course of action. Whilst good information exists regarding the costs of management interventions such as the construction or enhancement of protective structures such as seawalls, there is little available information on the costs of inaction. This project therefore sought to estimate the economic importance of selected Sydney beaches.

The project was completed under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the University of NSW and the SCCG, with research undertaken as a PhD. Case studies were conducted at three locations with the assistance of Manly Council, Hornsby Shire Council and Warringah Council.

Funding and in-kind support

The project was supported by a Community Action Grant from the (then) NSW Greenhouse Office, which is now incorporated into the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water. The full grant title was “Quantifying the Value of Sydney (NSW) Beaches in order to assess cost / benefit of necessary coastal protection / abatement measures as a result of enhanced climate change impacts”. Additional project support funding was provided by CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems (now Ecosystem Sciences) through a postgraduate studentship awarded to the PhD candidate. A PhD stipend was provided by UNSW.

Data was provided by the NSW Department of Lands to allow for application of the Hedonic Pricing Method, which examines the impact of environmental amenities on the local housing market. Warringah, Pittwater and Hornsby councils also provided additional GIS data layers for use in the hedonic analysis.

Project management was provided by SCCG Executive Officer Geoff Withycombe and Associate Professor Dale Dominey-Howes (UNSW), with work undertaken by the PhD candidate Dave Anning. Expert advice and project steering was provided by the SCCG Beach Management Working Group, which is a panel of beach experts representing local and State government organisations, as well as community and stakeholder groups.

Aim and Objectives

The aim of the project was to estimate the economic value of selected Sydney beaches, so that this information could be used by relevant parties to select appropriate adaptation responses to projected climate change impacts. This project estimated the total economic value of selected Sydney beaches, in three different Local Government areas; two oceanic sites and one estuarine site were selected. The sites were: Collaroy-Narrabeen, Manly Ocean Beach, and a combined site in the Hawkesbury River that incorporated Brooklyn Baths and Dangar Island. These case-study sites represent different biophysical environments and highlight the key coastal management issues of the region, threats to infrastructure and the loss of values associated with recreation and visual amenities through erosion.

A suite of valuation approaches was applied, both to allow for comparison between methods, and to provide answers in forms relevant to different policy questions. The hedonic pricing method was applied in order to examine the influence of beaches on local property prices, and hence examine the costs of allowing shoreline retreat or enacting a policy of managed retreat, a hedonic pricing study was undertaken at Collaroy-Narrabeen.

The study also incorporated extensive empirical surveys of beach users. A total of 420 onsite beach user interviews were conducted across the case study sites, with a further 120 completed online. These interviews employed a combined Travel Cost – Contingent Valuation survey instrument, which was designed to be deployed on handheld personal computers (smartphones). The use of this technology allowed for more complex survey designs, efficient surveying, and improved data management. Future options include use of inbuilt translation services to survey non English-speaking tourists, and use of GIS positioning to accurately plot the location of interviews and identify spatial variability in responses.

The travel cost method determines the extent of expenditure that beach visitors incur in order to visit the beach, which provides a lower-bound estimate of the value of the resource, as it is assumed that the benefits of the trip must outweigh the expenses or the trip would not be taken.

The contingent valuation method was applied to derive estimates of non-use values such as knowing that the resource will be available for use by future generations (bequest value). This involves describing a future erosion scenario, and asking beach users whether they would be willing to contribute to a project designed to prevent the impacts described.

Key findings

The hedonic pricing study conducted at Collaroy-Narrabeen identified a very strong preference for beachfront property. This results in an environmental premium associated with these properties of around 40%, relative to an otherwise identical property immediately landward of the first row. Given the high value of land, this represents a premium in excess of $1 million per beachfront house block (2008 dollars AUD), with more than 90 houses along the entire beach. Clearly, this does not reflect the exposure of these properties to coastal hazards, and further work will attempt to determine the benefits associated with risk-reduction interventions such as beach nourishment.

Travel costs associated with daytrip recreation are around $6 per person per day, with additional onsite expenditure of around $5. This includes such things as drinks and food purchased in the local beach precinct. Whilst translating this to an annual total is challenging due to limited information regarding the number of beach visitors, some estimates are possible. In the case of Manly Ocean Beach, for which reasonable visitation estimates exist, day trip recreation accounts for travel cost expenditure of around $25 million p.a. (2009 AUD). Incorporating onsite expenditure brings the total to around $50 million p.a. These figures represent minimum bounds for the value of the resource, as they only incorporate use values, and do not include social or cultural values.

Travel costs associated with daytrip recreation are around $6 per person per day, with additional onsite expenditure of around $5. This includes such things as drinks and food purchased in the local beach precinct. Whilst translating this to an annual total is challenging due to limited information regarding the number of beach visitors, some estimates are possible. In the case of Manly Ocean Beach, for which reasonable visitation estimates exist, day trip recreation accounts for travel cost expenditure of around $25 million p.a. (2009 AUD). Incorporating onsite expenditure brings the total to around $50 million p.a. These figures represent minimum bounds for the value of the resource, as they only incorporate use values, and do not include social or cultural values.

An Overview & Summary of the project is available here.


Understanding the scale of the economic impacts associated with the presence of healthy beaches allows for more effective allocation of coastal management resources at the local, State and (potentially) national levels. The values generated can provide a baseline against which changes (natural or otherwise) may be tracked. The locally generated benefit estimates can be used by other councils in Sydney, and NSW more broadly; to undertake rapid assessment of different options, as is appropriate in the early stages of development of Coastal Zone Management Plans. The methodology, which will be made publicly available in plain-language format, can assist councils in undertaking more detailed local studies where more precise estimates are required, such as in consideration of asset protection options. At the strategic level, this information can be used in the development of policies which reflect and preserve the economic streams generated from coastal assets.


For further information on environmental valuation tools, please visit the following sites:

For details of beach valuation studies conducted elsewhere (primarily the US):

THESIS: Estimation of the economic importance of beaches in Sydney, Australia, and implications for management

David Anning, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences University of New South Wales

For more information please contact SCCG or Dave Anning, University of NSW


Summerama: Summer Activities Program

Summerama is a community activities program run every year during January, designed to enhance community awareness and increase the community’s interaction and connection with Sydney’s coast through fun, family orientated coastal activities.

Underwater Sydney

Underwater Sydney

This website brings Sydney’s underwater world alive providing images and information on the marine species that live in Sydney. Go to the website and search for your local government area.

Assessment and Decision Frameworks for Seawall Structures Project

In July 2011, the Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) was awarded funding under the Coastal Adaptation Decision Pathways Project (CAP) for three projects- (1) “Prioritising Coastal Adaptation and Development Options for Local Government”; (2) “Demonstrating Climate Change Adaptation of Interconnected Water Infrastructure Project” and; (3) “Assessment and Decision frameworks for Existing Seawalls”. Funding has been provided by the Australian Government represented by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. The Coastal Adaptation Decision Pathways projects is an Australian Government Initiative. A Newsletter covering all three projects is available here.

This project, “Assessment and Decision frameworks for Existing Seawalls”, assists Local and State Governments to evaluate the robustness and condition of existing small seawalls for coastal climate change protection and outline possible options for further upgrades.

Seawalls and protection structures exist at many locations where construction details are unknown and the capacity of the structures to withstand existing storm and inundation events is not well understood. Where coastal protection is deemed the most appropriate management option, the state of existing seawalls and other protection structures is an important consideration. Sea wall asset owners and managers (usually Local Governments) are faced with determining development applications in areas protected by structures of unknown quality and origin (some approved and some not). Frequently there is conflict between the coastal managers and the community who have varying impressions of their effectiveness.

The project has produced Part A: Synthesis Report (3.8MB) based on individual reports prepared by subject specialists.

A separate Part B. Appendices include:


A forum held at Rockdale Council, provided presentations on all aspects of the project, and an open Q&A followed by a ‘hypothetical’ to explore the complex issues involved in managing existing seawalls.

The project is being delivered in partnership between the SCCG, Coastal Environment Pty Ltd, Griffith University Centre for Coastal Management and the Water Research Laboratory (UNSW). Click here to learn more.

Salty Communities logo

Sydney’s Salty Communities – Turning the Tide on Blue-Green Carbon

Salty Communities logo

The Sydney’s Salty Communities program, through funding from the Australian Government, has allowed SCCG and partners to support on-ground projects at local and sub-regional scales to address pressures from pollution, weeds, feral animals, degradation, neglect, inundation and erosion. Coastal land managers have used strategic assessment and conservation management activities to physically assess, restore, enhance and maintain biodiversity values and functions in these critical areas. The Salty program has issued 17 grants worth a little over $1.25 million for projects valued at over $2.75 million. Additionally, research projects have been funded to identify gaps in regional coastal biodiversity management knowledge and practice, and into climate change readiness.

Quick Navigation

Fact sheets & tools

Fact sheets

Sydney’s Salty Communities has distilled key information (gathered for, or deriving from, aspects of the program) into a series of fact sheets.

Lessons from Salty fact sheet Overview Literature Data & Practice Review factsheet

Adaptation & the C-RT fact sheet Planning for Climate Change fact sheet Blue Carbon fact sheet Connecting People & Nature fact sheet Engaging Communities fact sheet Fox Management fact sheet


Literature Data and Practice Review 9.3MB The Climate-Ready Tool Backyard Habitat Review Connected Corridors for Biodiversity Review of Regulatory Tools Mangrove & Saltmarsh Threat Analysis Mangrove & Saltmarsh Threat Analysis APPENDICES

Main Round Grants

There were eleven successful applicants for the Main Round of Grants. Their proposals aim to restore and enhance Sydney Metro’s Salty Community biodiversity in a wide variety of settings, using measures both innovative and well-tested. In total almost $950,000 was awarded on projects valued at just over $2 million. The successful projects are:

SSC_01 Urban aquatic corridors

City of Sydney Council
Trial "flowerpot", Blackwattle Bay. The City of Sydney partnered with The University of Sydney’s Centre for Research on Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities and the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domains Trust to create an aquatic corridor along the seawall foreshore of the City of Sydney local government area. This project delivered   60 seawall pots   that were further developed from previous designs to accelerate the process of colonising these habitat structures. School visits introduced hundreds of school children to key concepts around marine habitat creation. A successful   Ecological Engineering Forum showcased a variety of interventions from around the world to support inter-tidal biodiversity. This grant project has now been successfully completed and part of its legacy is the research coming from this trial.

SC_04 Gore Creek Reserve bush management

Lane Cove Council
Weed control, Lane CoveBush regeneration contractors were engaged to remove weed species & encourage regeneration of native species in Gore Creek Reserve, focusing on endangered Littoral Rainforest and surrounds. Weed species to be controlled in the reserve included: ground asparagus, morning glory, madeira vine, Ehrharta, Trad, Privet & Ochna. Gore Creek Reserve Bushcare group and others have worked alongside the contractors with the aim of restoring bushland adjacent to their work sites. This project has been successfully completed and the legacy of the project will be maintained in the years to come through Lane Cove Council’s commitment of ongoing designated operational budget for the area, as well as the efforts of the local BushCare groups.

SSC_09 N. Palm Beach dune rehabilitation

Pittwater Council
Asparagus fern post-treatment, Palm BeachAsparagus fern pre-treatment, Palm BeachThe North Palm Beach Dune Rehabilitation project rehabilitated 5.9ha (50% more than target) of highly degraded coastal dune within the North Palm Beach dune system. Managing weeds in the target site was important in tackling what was a reservoir of weeds threatening other rehabilitated and remnant vegetation. Over 5,000 native tubestock were planted. Completion of this project has reconnected a well-functioning native ecosystem and improved cological linkages between remnant native vegetation. This grant project has now been successfully completed and the legacy of the project will be maintained in the years to come through Northern Beaches Council’s commitment of ongoing designated operational budget for the area, as well as the efforts of local BushCare groups.

SSC_10 Bilgola Creek biodiversity

Pittwater Council

Bilgola weed treatment & revegetationThe project addressed major weed infestations within the project area. Two EECs were targeted: Themeda Grasslands on Coastal Headlands and Littoral Rainforest & Coastal Vine Thickets. Revegetation at 3 sites controlled exotic grasses at South Bilgola Headland, providing littoral restoration of the Bilgola Creek and restoring Coastal Clay Heath within an area heavily invaded by bamboo. A   community planting and information day was held along the Bicentennial Walkway track, which was also be upgraded to limit damage to the Themeda grassland. Over 2,250 native tubestock and 2kg of Themeda seed were planted. This grant project has now been successfully completed and the legacy of the project will be maintained in the years to come through Northern Beaches Council’s commitment of ongoing designated operational budget for the area, as well as the efforts of local BushCare groups.

SSC_11 Integrated fox control

Rockdale City Council

Fox management--indigenous workshopOn the hunt, RockdaleThis project has brought together 11 physically connected Councils (Bayside, Cumberland, City of Canada Bay, City of Canterbury Bankstown, Georges River, Inner West, Randwick, Strathfield, City of Sydney, Sutherland Shire & Waverley) and Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney (RBGS) to coordinate a regional approach to fox management through a Fox Control Working Committee. SSROC have taken over management of this Committee to continue its work. A web portal, has been set up to allow residents to report fox sightings across the region. During the project at least 150 foxes were removed from the region. RBGS has established a monitoring program for the committee, to answer core research questions about fox distribution, movements, predation, diet, behavioural elements. Community education and engagement and the trialing of fox control measures have been initiated in the project period.

SSC_17 Waverly coastal heath

Waverley Council

National Tree Planting Day, WaverleyThe Waverley Council LGA has lost 99% of the remnant vegetation that was present before European Settlement. This project is part of a larger effort by Waverley Council to halt this loss and improve the condition of the remnant from the current 4% up to 40% by 2020. To implement Council’s newly adopted   ‘Biodiversity Action Plan – Remnant Sites’. This project involved planting buffer and connectivity revegetation around our remnants. Over 42,000 native tubestock were planted. This will result in improved remnant condition, increased flora diversityRaleigh Reserve, Waverleyand a reduction in invasive weeds, particularly along the coastal cliff-top heath vegetation communities. In combination with revegetation plantings the outcome has been an increased in size and resilience of the remnant vegetation communities. This grant project has now been successfully completed and the legacy of the project will be maintained for at least the next five years through Waverley Council’s commitment of ongoing designated operational budget for the area, as well as through the efforts of local BushCare groups.

SSC_18 Willoughby salty ecosystems

Willoughby City Council

Bird Survey, WilloughbyThe project has improved connectivity between three zones located along the Lane Cove R. starting from the Fullers Rd bridge next to the Lane Cove National Park moving south through O.H. Reid Reserve, the Chatswood Golf Course and Mowbray Park. Work primarily consisted of invasive weed removal to allow natural regeneration of indigenous species and this was supplemented with some plantings of indigenous plants to strengthen connection of work zones and other saltmarsh areas along the Lane Cove R. Willoughby City Council matched the contribution from Sydney’s Salty Communities grant to deliver this important project to rehabilitate this impacted ecosystem. 2,600 native tubestock were planted (800 more than target) and 8.9ha of weed treatment was undertaken. This grant project has now been successfully completed and the legacy of the project will be maintained in the future through Willoughby Council’s commitment of ongoing designated operational budget for the area, and the ongoing relationship they have developed with Chatswood Golf Club.

SSC_20 Sydney’s living shorelines


Oceanwatch's Andy Myers surveying a possible trial site.Oceanwatch's Simon Rowe & Andy Myers trialing a coir bag.Through this project, waste oyster shell collected from commercial farms were processed and arranged to protect eroding riverbanks and to stabilise riparian and coastal vegetation. For the purposes of the Salty Communities Program, erosion control and vegetation enhancement is the primary objective. The project was carried out on behalf of 4 councils – Willoughby, Lane Cove, Sutherland Shire and City of Ryde, and involves education, with community groups engaged in reef building activities. Macquarie University is currently undertaking research into the performance of different oyster reef structures, & will build these project sites into their research program.  Preliminary testing of the structures has been undertaken at UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory at Manly Vale. This project is ongoing due to delays in obtaining the required permits to install the reefs. Pleasingly, more test sites are being pursued with the support of Greater Sydney Local Land Services.

SSC_21 Mosman foreshore biodiversity

Mosman Council
This project involved undertaking bushland regeneration and natural area restoration works around the foreshore of Quakers Hat Park and Harnett Park including rope access work. This work will act to protect, enhance and connect corridors along the foreshores and protect against a heat island affect under climatic changes. Residents were involved in a pilot Native Havens Program, where council supports residents to create native gardens that support wildlife through offering advice, native indigenous tubestock, and ongoing support in habitat protection. More than 4,600 native tubestock were planted (54% more than target). A baseline survey of intertidal flora and fauna was also undertaken. This grant project has now been successfully completed and the legacy of the project will be maintained through Mosman Council’s commitment of ongoing designated operational budget for the area, as well as through the efforts of the local Native Havens group they are developing with residents.

SSC_22 Woronora River resilience

Sutherland Shire Council

Mid-Woronora R, on the southern boundary of the project area.Bamboo damaging embankments, Woronora R.Located in the Woronora River valley area (Woronora to Heathcote), the project has reduced the impacts of aggressive weed species, Weeds of National Significance & Key Threatening Processes on threatened flora and fauna species & three Endangered Ecological Communities of Coastal Saltmarsh, Swamp Oak Flood Plain Forest & Swamp Sclerophyll Forest on Coastal Floodplains. The activities have enhanced the 9 sites’ native biodiversity, increase public empowerment/knowledge and ensure past inappropriate urban development is ameliorated to ensure the ecosystem health of one of Sydney’s most unique Riverine systems. The project significantly exceeded its targets: pest management was undertaken in over 200ha of bushland (44% above target); weed treatment was implemented in 85ha (21% above target), and; over 2,100 native tubestock were planted (114% above target). This grant project has now been successfully completed and the legacy of the project will be maintained for at least the next ten years through Sutherland Shire Council’s commitment of ongoing designated operational budget for the area, as well as its long-term Woronora River Management Plan.

SSC_23 Balls Head Reserve Canopy Recovery

North Sydney Council

Researching nasutitermes walkeri, Ball's Head, North Sydney.The remnant canopy of Balls Head has been affected by termites which appears to be having a serious ring-barking effect on many of these trees. To avoid generational loss of canopy this project involved research to compare treatment of arboreal termites (Nasutitermes walkeri) with appropriate control sites to compare tree responses and determine cause and effect for poor tree health. There has been a formalised monitoring regime, implemented by the   School of Science  at ACU, to record and assess short and long-term responses in tree health that alleviating termite damage will achieve. Bush regeneration work has been undertaken to remediate damage. Particularly pleasing in this project is that, by developing best practice methods with a consulting arborist, the project was able to be delivered with only a third the grant amount, while also extending the area treated to Berry Island (an increase in area of over 30%). The arborist’s report is available for download (PDF, 1.3MB).

While it will take some years to know the full impact of the intervention on the health of the canopy at these two sites, the legacy of the project will be maintained through Council’s commitment of ongoing designated operational budget for the area, and through the ongoing collaborative work between NSC and the School of Science at ACU.

Supplementary Round Grants

The Supplementary Round of Grants was targeted to better focus the program on collaboration and climate change adaptation. Six grants with a total value of just over $303,000 were awarded, for projects to the value of almost $737,000.

SSC_24 Dee Why Lagoon

biodiversityWarringah Council
Dense weed, Dee Why LagoonThis project supported an ongoing whole-of-lagoon approach, by focussing on the southern area of the refuge through restoring saltmarsh, creating habitat linkages and controlling vertebrate pest animals. This project has • Reduced the spread of high priority weeds; • Promoted a backyard habitat and garden escapes program; • Promoted the DY Fauna Fair as a celebration of the Wildlife Refuge for lagoon users; • Established a native seed bank using provenance from Dee Why Lagoon and neighbouring lagoon systems; • Produced a condition map of the bushland and saltmarsh, including mapping tree hollows. This project complements the ‘Dee Why Lagoon Wildlife Refuge Habitat Restoration Project’, a three year program funded through Environmental Trust.

SSC_25 Warriewood Wetlands biocontrol

Coastal Environment Centre, Pittwater Council (project lead)
Salvinia at Warriewood WetlandsThis project aimed to control the growth and further spread of Salvinia, a water weed currently choking Warriewood Wetlands EEC, through introduction of cyrtabagous weevil. Prior to introduction, mechanical and physical weed treatment was planned, to reduce Salvinia cover to improve the probability of successful establishment of the weevil. However due to storm events, a large amount of Salvinia was washed away, delivering considerable savings for the project in mechanical clear. Unfortunately, subsequent storms also washed away many weevils. A monitoring report (17MB) provides a mixed picture for the future of Salvinia weevils in the Sydney Basin, and more research is required to better understand their viability as a tool for Salvinia management here.

In addition this project engaged with local schools to educate students about the importance of fragile environments in terms of biodiversity and community health and enjoyment. Through helping to reduce Salvinia, an invasive species in the wetlands, the students engaged in a high level of curriculum learning, as well as understanding environmental and community issues and were empowered to become custodians of the natural environment in their locality.

SSC_27 Fisher Bay restoration

Manly Council
Ropework at Fisher BayThis project restored a section of coastal remnant vegetation located on the Manly Scenic Walkway in Clontarf. The project site was comprised of Littoral Rainforest, listed in NSW as an Endangered Ecological Community. The works removed invasive species and revegetated with local provenance plants. The project site also has cultural significance, with several Aboriginal middens present. This afforded the opportunity to engage with the Aboriginal Heritage Office to develop a restoration project which enables the vegetation communities to be improved, whilst protecting culturally significant sites and developing interpretive signage and other educational elements. A community engagement program built the capacity of residents to value the local biodiversity and to engage with backyard habitat and garden escapes programs and undertake voluntary restoration activities on surrounding private properties.

SSC_28 Hollows as homes

Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust (project lead)
Cockatoo in a tree hollowThis project engaged and tought community members to record the attributes of hollows and trees, and to monitor wildlife use of hollows. It has deliverd an app with online database for recording hollows. After participating in a workshop, in conjunction with councils, and assisted by customised on-line resources, participants can assess the trees in their backyard, street or park. Participants can also monitor wildlife use of constructed boxes or cut-in hollows, including the attributes of the tree and the habitat (e.g. design, material). Lastly, schools were encouraged to participate to assess trees and hollows within their grounds. As a result there has been an increased understanding of hollow-bearing trees and their vital role as habitat for wildlife.

SSC_29 Fishermans Walk climate change connections

Warringah Council
Fishermans WalkThe project has delivered an improved wildlife corridor linking Endangered Ecological Communities of Curl Curl potentially affected by climate change, to the coastal corridor of Freshwater/McKillop Park, using the assistance of community and corporate volunteers and professional workers. Over 4,000 native plants, of over 30 different species, have been established to replace areas once degraded by Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) and other environmental weeds. A percentage of plants have been propagated from flora further north of this area, to improve climate change biodiversity resilience.

SSC_30 Connected Corridors for Biodiversity

Southern Sydney Region of Councils (project lead)
Connected CorridorsFor the 23 Councils within the Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) and the Southern Sydney Region of Councils (SSROC) (including Ashfield; Bankstown; Burwood; Botany Bay; Canada Bay; Canterbury; City of Sydney; Hornsby; Hurstville; Kogarah; Leichhardt; Manly; Marrickville; Mosman; North Sydney; Pittwater; Randwick; Rockdale; Sutherland; Warringah; Waverley; Willoughby; Woollahra) existing mapping of habitat corridors, have been consolidated into one GIS layer, to identify opportunities for connectivity and contiguity across Council boundaries. This mapping layer is available online at the Greater Sydney LLS site, which will host it for 4 years, updating it annually with data from participating councils. It is supported with a summary of existing tools and programs and incentives to promote conservation on privately owned land.

Climate Ready Tool

Tool IconThe CSIRO SCCG partnership project, the Climate Ready Tool – Managing Coastal Ecological Communities in the Face of Rapid Changehas been a major outcome of the Salty Programme. Through a series of webinars and workshops with participating councils, this conceptual tool has been trialled and refined to assist councils in their response to climate change. Specifically it enables natural resource managers to explore the consequences of climate change for their ecological management over the long term and to scope near-term actions to start addressing those challenges. Councils can now use the tool in their planning and management.

Program Background

Sydney's Salty Communities project area map

This project was designed to enhance the adaptive capacity of councils and the resilience of coastal habitats, foreshore and intertidal lands, responding to urban pressures and climate change. It comprised a 3-year research, capacity-building and on-ground rehabilitation program focusing on biodiversity and carbon storage in ‘salt-influenced ecosystems’ across Sydney’s coastal environments and urban waterways.

Grants were provided to support research, capacity-building and on-ground initiatives at local and sub-regional scales that addressed pressures from pollution, pests, degradation, inundation and erosion. The project filled existing gaps in research, information, strategy and prioritise areas for on-ground work. The program concluded in February 2017.

Salty Reference Group

saltywebmapA reference group was convened for the program, to provide further specialist technical input, guide and/or undertake research, review prioritisation and critique/evaluate sub-projects during development and execution. Expertise in Sydney’s coastal ecosystems, ecological restoration, urban biodiversity and organisational capacity-building provides critical advice to achieve project outcomes.


November 2016 Salty Newsletter  March 2016 Salty Newsletter  October 2015 Salty Newsletter