Darwin Harbour mangroves ‘resisting sea level rise’


CDU researcher Madeline Goddard. Photographer: Aaron Burton

CDU researcher Madeline Goddard. Photographer: Aaron Burton

A Charles Darwin University researcher will explore how sea level rise and other factors might impact on Darwin Harbour’s mangrove forests, during an international conference in Darwin this week.

Madeline Goddard said her research would aim to determine how the harbour’s 20,000 hectare mangrove estate might adapt and survive rapid environmental change.

Ms Goddard said the mangroves appeared to have maintained their elevation despite the substantial rise in the harbour’s mean sea level by an average of 8.3 mm per year, among the highest in the world.

She will discuss the research project at this week's Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network Conference in Darwin, hosted by CDU’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL).

“The Darwin Harbour mangroves so far seem resilient and are keeping pace with sea level rise by increasing sediment to stay above water,” Ms Goddard said.

“But it is a race, and if the rate in sea level rise increases faster than the mangroves can keep pace then they could drown.”

Ms Goddard said she planned to apply to undertake a PhD with RIEL later this year, which wouldbuild on her CDU Honours research in measuring sedimentation in Darwin Harbour mangrove forests.

“We have an incredible and relatively intact mangrove estate that supports many fish species and general harbour health, and want to ensure that they stay in such excellent condition into the future,” she said. 

More than 40 per cent of Australia’s mangrove communities are found in the NT, and 36 different species live in Darwin Harbour.

CDU PhD students Ben Brown, Clint Cameron and Sigit Deni Sasmito will present at the conference on topics about Indonesia's mangroves, including their carbon storage abilities and restoration approaches.The conference is hosted by RIEL and will be held in Darwin from 3 to 6 May. To view the program, visit W: riel.cdu.edu.au/news-events/events/conference/australian-mangrove-saltmarsh-network-conference

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