An intertidal temperate coastal wetland located at Kooragang Island (Hunter Wetlands National Park; − 32.866707S, 151.715561E), approximately 7 km upstream of the oceanic entrance of the Hunter River estuary, Newcastle, Australia, was chosen as the study site to implement the method. The Hunter River estuary is a wave-dominated barrier estuary with a trained and continuously dredged entrance, subject to a semi-diurnal tidal regime with a maximum amplitude of approximately 2 m53. The site is recognised as a Ramsar site of international importance. The location and characteristics of the site ensure it can be used as an example to replicate SLR impacts. The site’s (wetland) catchment is 24 hectares, low-lying (median elevation is 1.2 m) and has no upstream freshwater inputs. The wetland has a single estuarine channel (known as Fish Fry Creek) that is 170 m long, 10 m wide and 1.0 m deep at low tide level7,54, and connects to the south arm of the Hunter River estuary. The channel connects the estuary to the intertidal wetland which covers an area of 112,450 m2. The site experiences a temperate climate and on average receives 1122 mm rainfall annually. Temperatures at the site range from 18 to 27 °C in summer (December—February) and 7 to 17 °C in winter (June – August) (Bureau of Meteorology; http://www.bom.gov.au).

In the twentieth century, levees and internal drainage were implemented in this region to create a flood detention system which resulted in tidal waters being excluded from the wetland55. Following coastal wetland rehabilitation works at the area in the early 2000s, tidal flow was reintroduced to the site. However, changes in the site’s hydrology and topography favoured the expansion of mangroves, resulting in extensive loss of saltmarsh vegetation56. This change also affected the wetland ecosystem function including species habitats (decline in migratory shorebirds and frogs)57. In all, these actions resulted in a site that under natural conditions (e.g. the existing tidal regime) encouraged non-saltmarsh vegetation expansion and was not suitable for saltmarsh growth despite it historically being an important saltmarsh location for migratory shorebirds40,58. As such, the site was experiencing deeper tidal inundation patterns than desired, similar to that experienced with SLR, hence, making it an ideal location to trial the Tidal Replicate Method.

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