Pitt Water Orielton Lagoon Tasmania

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We took care to attach appropriate images that are as close to representative of each species as our resources and the availability of images allowed. however, we could not ensure perfect accuaracy in every case. Some images show species that share the same genus but not at the species or subspecies level.

The Pitt Water-Orielton Lagoon Ramsar site is located on the south-east coast of Tasmania, approximately 20 kilometres east of the city of Hobart, between the towns of Cambridge and Sorell. Pitt Water is an almost land-locked body of tidal salt water with a narrow entrance to Frederick Henry Bay. Orielton Lagoon is separated from Pitt Water by a causeway constructed in 1868. The whole area is protected from the open sea by a large mid-bay spit and associated dunefield.

Most of the Ramsar site is open water fringed by saltmarsh communities, mudflats and rocky shores. The large areas of tidal mud and sand flats leaves extensive areas exposed as suitable feeding areas for wading birds.

The vegetation communities present include succulent saline herbland, saline sedgeland/rushland and coastal grassland. The site provides breeding habitat for a number of beach-nesting shorebirds including the Caspian Tern and Red-capped Plover. Migratory birds that utilise the Ramsar wetland include the Eastern Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Double-banded Plover and Red-necked Stint. Threatened species listed in Tasmania recorded at the site include the Great-crested Grebe, Fairy Tern and Little Tern.

Pitt Water-Orielton Lagoon was traditionally used by Indigenous people of the area and the Ramsar site contains some middens and other evidence of Indigenous occupation. Currently the area has a diversity of landuses including pastureland grazing, forestry, irrigated cropland, residential development, shellfish aquaculture, recreation and nature conservation

Government evidence of impact of climate change:

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  • Australian Government, Pitt Water - Orielton Lagoon Ramsar Site, Ecological Character Description

    The consequences have been exacerbated by a series of very dry years; a trend predicted to continue under climate change scenarios.
    Factors clearly evident in PWOL include changes to freshwater flows; nutrients; urban developments; overfishing; introduced species; human disturbance; sediment loads and climate change.
    Another example is increasing natural salinity in the catchment which; if coupled with drier and warmer climatic conditions; leads to compaction; salt scour and change in species composition in saltmarshes.
    Edgar et al (1999) note that climate change can have three key effects on estuarine systems increasing water temperatures; modified rainfall patterns and sea level rise.
    Changes in climatic conditions are likely to have different consequences for different species.
    The most visible indicator of possible climate change is sea level rise and erosion of shorelines.
    The wider impacts of climate change and sea level rise also appear to be in evidence.
    The saltmarsh was in poor condition because of earlier inundation with freshwater and burning Section 5 Limits of Acceptable Change Explanatory notes regarding limits of acceptable change Limits of acceptable change are a tool by which ecological change can be measured.