As part of the Cairns Shipping Development Project, dredge material was piped from Trinity Inlet to Lake Narelle at the Northern Sands facility to improve shipping access to the port. Earlier assessments had identified possible increases to groundwater salinity levels caused by the placement of the dredge material, which had the potential to impact the surrounding vegetation.
Between June 2019 and October 2019 Biotropica carried out vegetation monitoring at multiple locations adjacent to and downstream of the Northern Sands facility to identify any changes in vegetation condition, caused by the altered levels of salinity. Monitoring comprised regular assessment of a number of ecological attributes (e.g., canopy cover, leaf litter abundance, seedling abundance) as well as a vegetation health assessment, which together helped to determine if the survey sites were being indirectly impacted by saline groundwater.
On cessation of the monitoring, no impacts to vegetation condition had been observed at any of the vegetation monitoring locations. Biotropica continues to provide regular specialist advice to Ports North regarding vegetation management around its ports and facilities.