Educational signage for Cairns
Visitors to the Cairns Esplanade will soon be able to check out wader information signs like this. ©CRC

Cairns council backs recovery plan for Esplanade

Two years of patient work by a small group of concerned birders and environmental experts is gradually producing positive results for the threatened shorebirds of the Cairns Esplanade.

Cairns Regional Council (CRC) officials agreed with the lobby group in May that the council’s sand ‘nourishment’ activities along the length of the city’s waterfront had increased sand deposits in Trinity Bay.

Dispersal of the sand by tide and storm action has resulted in major changes to the food-carrying capacity of mudflats that until around 2012 supported thousands of migratory wading birds.

Abandoned area

Large areas of the prime benthic feeding zone are now choked with sand particles, and the area has been abandoned by mudskippers and untold other key food sources. Most of the birds have also gone elsewhere.

While the problem is too environmentally complex for an instant fix, this latest agreement between the CRC and the birders should deliver lasting and beneficial changes.

Key elements of the Esplanade recovery deal apparently include:

  • – no more sand nourishment or dispersal, except following extreme weather
  • – a series of groins to prevent shifting sand entering storm water outlets
  • – removal of sand accumulations in key areas
  • – independent analysis of the ecological health of the inshore mudflats.

A council-backed educational signage program – telling the public about the waders and why they should not be disturbed – will also be installed along with a new hardwood deck for the Esplanade boardwalk.

Darter has speared a fish
Darter spears lunch at Cattana Wetland, which is getting a much-needed make-over. Photo: ©Tony Neilson

Imminent improvements

And there is more … We understand long-suffering mosquito-savaged bird watchers and users of the Cattana Wetland at Yorkey’s Knob (northern Cairns) can expect significant improvements.

Transformation of the former sand mining quarry into an important wetland began in the 1990s. Some 70,000 trees and shrubs and around $3 million later and the area was so heavily over-planted it was in danger of choking itself.

The Cairns Regional Council and volunteers are now opening up the area with more trails, clearer viewing areas and additional wetland sites. Hopefully they will also deal to the mozzies. The project is expected to be completed next year.

©Natural Images 2018

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