|Title||Ralphs Bay Tasmania Case Study|
|Publication Type||Case Study|
|Year of Publication||2014|
|Authors||Baxter T., Haward M.|
Ralphs Bay is a wide shallow bay in the Derwent Estuary, south-east of Hobart. The bay is enclosed by the hook-shaped South Arm peninsula, the final landmass before the estuary meets the sea. Ralphs Bay contains extensive sandflats, some of which are protected within the Ralphs Bay Conservation Area at Lauderdale. The small coastal community of Lauderdale is located in the north eastern corner of the bay. Ralphs Bay is an area of considerable ecological significance. Migratory shorebirds such as Red-necked Stints arrive from Siberia each spring, and the bay contains one of Australia’s most significant populations of Pied Oystercatchers. Critically endangered Spotted Handfish have also been recorded in the northern section of the bay. Ralphs Bay contains one of the most biodiverse saltmarsh vegetation communities in southern Tasmania and delivers important ecosystem services such as denitrification. The extensive sandflats and fringing saltmarsh provide important habitat for a wide variety of invertebrate and microalgal species, which support a complex food web unique in the Derwent. In addition to natural and scientific values, Ralphs Bay has significant aesthetic, community and recreational values enjoyed by residents and visitors. In 2004, the Tasmanian community became aware of a proposal put forward by the Walker Corporation to construct a residential canal estate development in Ralphs Bay at Lauderdale Tasmania. In response, the ‘Save Ralphs Bay Inc’ (SRB) community group was formed in opposition. The group’s stated objectives include the protection of the ‘natural and aesthetic values of Ralphs Bay’ and the promotion of ‘an approach to Coastal Planning in Tasmania that will prevent inappropriate development proposals in coastal areas’.
Despite significant public opposition, the proposal proceeded through the relevant assessment and approval processes under both state and federal law.