• donor sites;
  • recovery;
  • regeneration;
  • restoration;
  • saltmarsh

Summary Efforts to restore coastal saltmarsh habitats through transplantation of saltmarsh species from donor sites are becoming more frequent. As sections removed are generally small there is little information on the ability of these areas to recover naturally after removal. The present study provides an understanding of the potential of dominant saltmarsh species in NSW (Saltcouch, Sporobolus virginicus and Samphire, Sarcocornia quinqueflora) to regenerate naturally after such small-scale removal (25 cm × 25 cm plots) at separate sites for each species. The increase in percentage cover of vegetation within the denuded plots was measured over 21 months along a gradient within the marsh (between the mangrove and terrestrial boundaries) and then compared to non-denuded plots. Recovery of Saltcouch was slow with an estimate of 5–6 years to reach the surrounding cover levels. Similarly, recovery of Samphire on upper levels of the shore is estimated at 4–5.5 years. On the lower level on the shore, however, Samphire had reached a cover that was within the range of the surrounding vegetation by the end of the 21-month study period.