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The Swan and Canning rivers have changed dramatically since the establishment of the Swan River Colony. Widespread clearing for urban, agricultural and industrial development, shoreline reclamation, dredging and drainage, the removal of the rock bar at Fremantle and the establishment of water impoundments including dams within tributaries have altered the system and caused habitat loss.

While the waterways are changed from their natural state, they support a wide array of important habitats including open water, sand shallows, tidal mudflats, tidal samphire marshes, fringing sedges and rushes, fringing woodlands, submerged macrophytes, seagrass and macroalgae, riffles and pools, marine intertidal zones, woody debris and interconnected wetlands.

Artificial structures (e.g. jetties, groynes and posts) provide additional habitat.

Natural disturbance events such as fires, floods and storms often impact these habitats, which can recover through regeneration and recolonisation by species spreading from nearby areas. However, if the scale of disturbances is too great or where multiple threatening processes exist simultaneously, species and communities may be affected and biodiversity may decline.

Processes that continue to pose a threat to habitats and biodiversity in the Riverpark include:

Parks and Wildlife aims to minimise the impacts of these stressors and protect habitat by addressing water quality and ecological health, managing development pressure, ensuring adequate environmental flow and responding to climate change. It partners with foreshore land managers to improve habitat and reduce erosion pressure and invasive weeds through improved foreshore management.

Parks and Wildlife is a signatory to the Biosecurity Charter and supports the Department of Fisheries to manage invasive fauna in the Riverpark.