Once seen as wastelands, saltmarshes are now known to be as highly productive and provide important habitat for local and migatory wildlife and birds. Saltmarsh (Halophytes) is a habitat of plants such as grasses, reeds, sedges, succulents and shrubs that live in estuaries and lagoons.

Saltmarsh cycle nutrients very efficiently and os play a very important role in maintaining the health of the Tuggerah Lakes estuary. The dead leaves and branches of the saltmarsh vegetation are broken down by bacteria and fungi. This material is then eaten by mussels, oysters, snails, crabs, prawns and mullet, which in turn become food for other animals. See more.

Located directly behind seagrass, saltmarsh is crucial in trapping and drying wrack (dead seagrass material) to help it breakdown naturally and quickly. As their name suggests, these plants can tolerate a high salt content in the soil and don’t mind being covered in the salty sea water.

Sarcocornia quinqueflora

Photo: Sarcocornia quinqueflora

Facts about saltmarsh

  • Provides habitat, shelter and breeding grounds for fish, wildlife, migratory birds and many threatened species
  • Is the first link in the estuary’s food chain
  • Helps reduce smell by providing a place for the seagrass wrack to dry


  • 85% of the saltmarsh in the Tuggerah Lakes estuary has been destroyed since European settlement
  • Urban development, unrestricted stock access, weed invasion, dumping, stormwater and human activity all affect the health of our saltmarsh

What can you do?

  • Allow the saltmarsh to grow along the foreshore
  • Take your rubbish with you and put it in a bin
  • Encourage others to look after the foreshore
  • Keep pets and stock away from saltmarsh areas
  • Stick to the established paths when cycling and walking
  • Keep vehicles and trail bikes out of saltmarsh areas and foreshore reserves
  • Use your green bins to dispose of grass clippings
  • Take care when walking through these special environments

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