Australian scientists have announced the world’s first successful large-scale restoration of a coastal wetland being devastated by acid runoff.
The acid crisis at East Trinity began in the 1970s, when developers drained and cleared 800 hectares of tidal wetland to grow sugarcane. This dried out underlying acid sulfate soils causing them to release slugs of acid whenever they were soaked by rain, leading to fish kills and loss of wetlands which alarmed local residents.
A dramatic improvement in environmental conditions has been achieved by researchers working on the trial Hills Creek catchment at the East Trinity site near Cairns in Queensland, using a combination of natural tidal action and strategic treatment with lime.
Mangrove and wetlands are returning, birdlife is flocking to the area and fish abound in creeks that once ran so acid that nothing could survive in them. Having first demonstrated success in the trial catchment, remediation is underway on the remainder of the site.