Riparian & reserve analysis

Overall, the vegetation represented in the Reserves and Riparian areas are quite diverse extending from coastal estuaries and open beach fronts across the coastal lowlands and hills to the mountain ranges in the west.

A good riparian zone

The major vegetation types identified include:

  • Mangroves
  • Melaleuca forest
  • Open forest (refers to a forest that has an open canopy)
  • Saltmarsh/Claypan
    (are dominated by succulent herbaceous plants and grasses)
  • Heathland
    (communities which typically have no canopy and are up to two metres tall)
  • Closed Forest
    (typically in moist areas, commonly known as "rainforests")
  • Ecotonal Forest
    (or wet sclerophyll which are multi-layered forests with dense understorey layers, canopy and emergent layers)
  • Pine Plantation
    (monoculture of exotic pine trees, typically with no understorey or ground layers)


Wetlands are highly productive ecosystems. They provide a habitat, food and a sanctuary for a diversity of wildlife. Wetlands mitigate flood waters, improve water quality by filtering nutrients and trapping sediment, moderate the hydrology of the landscape and provide a water resource.

Wetlands are areas that have water either permanently or semi-permanently, so they generally have plants and animals that have adapted to living in wet conditions. This means that soils become flooded or waterlogged to the extent that it becomes the central factor in determining the biochemical characteristics of a wetland.

Redcliffe has natural areas of coastal wetlands to the north-east and south-west of the city, while the Council has constructed an artificial freshwater wetland at Bells Creek. There are many different types of wetlands that occur throughout Australia, including:

  • Billabongs
  • Flood plains and freshwater swamps
  • Sedgelands
  • Lakes and ponds
  • Saltmarsh and estuaries
  • Claypans
  • Lagoons
  • Mangroves
  • Mudflats
  • Coral reefs

Bells creek artificial wetland

Located upstream of Duffield Road, Clontarf in the vicinity of MJ Brown Park, Bells Creek has been re-naturalised through the construction of an artificial wetland and reformation of a natural channel.

The wetland and channel is designed to minimise erosion of the creek bed and banks, reduce flow velocity, increase flood storage capacity and improve water quality through the establishment of an aquatic plant zone, open water zone and discharge zone to trap sediments, absorb nutrients and increase dissolved oxygen.

The design of the wetland has also increased the local biodiversity by providing habitat for fish, macroinvertebrates, frogs, aquatic birds and lizards. 

Nathan road wetlands reserve

Located to the west of Nathan Road, adjacent to Morris Park to the south and the Redcliffe Aerodrome to the north, the Nathan Roads Wetland Reserve covers an area of 44.5 hectares The land was purchased by the Council for a conservation, ecotourism and education reserve.

The wetlands reserve links to an extensive area of state owned wetlands to the north and west covering an additional 98 hectares. The reserve supports a number of different types of natural wetlands, including: 

  • Freshwater wetland (Ephemeral)
  • Paperbark Woodland & Casuarina Forest
  • Intertidal mudflats and saltmarsh community
  • Mangrove community

Following adequate rainfall, natural depressions within the reserve create a freshwater community that supports native sedges, rushes and water loving grasses. These plants are adapted to seasonally inundation and dry periods which is defined as an Ephemeral Wetland. 

The paperbark swamp is dominated by a dense stand of Broad-leaved Paperbarks (Melaleuca quinquenervia) occurring in areas beyond salt water intrusion. Where there is slightly higher salinity Swamp Oaks (Casuarina glauca) dominate.

In the western and northern portion of the reserve, saline communities occur due to the low elevation and the influence of tidal flows along the seaward margins.

Extensive grasslands of saltmarsh couch (Sporobolus virginicus) are present on all low-lying terrain in the west of the reserve while in the vicinity of the airport the couch gives way to patches of mudflats and saltmarsh community.

The mangrove community extends beyond the intertidal saltmarsh community to the north and north-west. These areas are a significant wader bird roosting area and are recognised internationally under the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands of International Importance for the conservation of migratory wader birds and their habitat.

Hays inlet conservation reserve

Located on the south-western boundary of Redcliffe City, the Hays Inlet Conservation Reserve covers an area of 130 hectares and is owned by the state government.

It consists of mudflats, saltmarsh and mangrove communities and is an important breeding and nursery area for fish. It is also recognised as internationally significant wetland for wader birds and their habitat.

These habitats provide food, shelter and breeding grounds for fish, prawns and crabs. Most marine species spend some part of their life cycle in foreshore wetland areas. This is why coastal wetlands have a rich diversity of marine species.

Only a few highly specialised plant communities have evolved to survive in these harsh conditions. Mangroves have adapted to survive in the intertidal zone by having complex and extensive root systems that allow them to cope with low oxygen soil.

Mangrove pneumatophores are woody, oxygen-absorbing roots which extend up out of the mud like snorkels to absorb oxygen from the air. Another adaptation is their ability to deal with the constant salt in the water; some mangroves secrete the salt from special glands on their leaves while others store it in their leaves and shed the salt with the old leaves.

Coral reefs and seagrass

Moreton bay supports a unique array of coral reefs and seagrass beds. Our corals represent a biogeographical overlap of tropical and sub-tropical species. They are broadly distributed throughout the bay with the highest diversity concentrated at Flinders Reef, north of Moreton Island. 

Seagrass beds can be found in the shallow coastal waters of Moreton bay. Seagrasses are an important nursery ground for prawns, fish and crabs while dugongs and marine turtles directly consume the seagrasses. Seagrasses and corals are fragile ecosystems and can be damaged or destroyed by excessive pollution from sewage discharge, oil and runoff, and physical destruction from dredging, uncontrolled bait digging, boat propellers and anchors.

What we can do

What you can do to help keep our coral and seagrass populations healthy:

  • Always put your rubbish (including cigarette buts and dog droppings) in the bin, so it won't reach the bay
  • Do not release sewage from your boat, install a containment device
  • Be aware that anchors and propellors damage seagrass beds and coral reefs. Use public moorings when available
  • Replace seagrass sods in an upright position after bait digging. Only take your share - A bag limit of 50 worms applies

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