Program: Rivers and Estuaries Science

Status: Active

About the research project

Within the Swan-Canning Estuary, there has been limited implementation of eco-engineering methodologies to enhance habitat.  

The Nature Conservancy has recently successfully piloted an approach to improving benthic habitat using limestone reef construction, and this work will be extended to build four limestone reefs over an eight-hectare area and seed these with four million mussels. In addition to building benthic habitat, there are opportunities to improve shoreline and subtidal habitat to protect shorelines. 

This project will initially identify approaches to improving nearshore habitat and protecting shorelines in heavily modified parts of the Swan Canning.  

In the first instance, the project will trial the local application of cost-effective seawall tiles in built environments to identify their best application and form for improving species diversity. The project will compare the biodiversity value of revetment versus seawalls on built shorelines. 

The project also provides support to The Nature Conservancy mussel reef project. 

Management outcomes

This project will determine suitability and effectiveness of living seawall in the lower Swan Canning estuary and evaluate conditions and tile forms that maximize biodiversity outcomes. 

It is intended that the project will provide information for planners on the value of revetment versus seawalls for biodiversity outcomes on built shorelines.


Habitat enhancement tiles have been installed at three locations in East Fremantle and monitoring is in progress.  

The Nature Conservancy have completed installation of mussel reefs at four locations and DBCA is supporting monitoring.  

Project team

Josh Baker Lucy Arrowsmith  Chris Douglas  Dr Kerry Trayler 
Environmental Officer, Rivers and Estuaries Science Environmental Officer, Rivers and Estuaries Science  Environmental Officer, Rivers and Estuaries Science  Principal Scientist, Rivers and Estuaries Science 


Living Seawalls 

Sydney Institute of Marine Science  

Rivers and Estuaries Branch, DBCA  

Town of East Fremantle 

Melville Council 

The Nature Conservancy  

Murdoch University 


Lucy Arrowsmith 

Environmental Officer