Project Restore

Why do we need restoration?

The iconic Sydney Harbour is one of the most beautiful and diverse harbours in the world however has been enormously degraded in the 250 years since the first European settlement.

The harbour has been impacted by centuries of foreshore urbanisation including large scale construction of artificial structures such as seawalls, marinas and jetties. To further accommodate for the urban and industrial growth of the city, dredging activities to deepen the Harbour’s channels and reclamation techniques to increase the foreshore developments, dramatically altered the harbour’s shoreline while completely removing any habitats that dominated these areas. Urbanisation and industrial developments at the foreshore of the Harbour also impacted the harbour’s water quality, with decades of stormwater run-off, overflow and discharge of industrial waste running directly into the Harbour waterways up until the late 1970s. By then, the harbour’s water quality was low and the degradation of marine habitats and biodiversity was apparent with common blackwater events and numerous fish appearing dead at the Harbour’s foreshores.

Since the 1980s, as our society became increasingly aware of the negative impacts that these activities had on the Harbour’s fragile ecosystems, regulations were improved to prevent further degradation of the harbour’s waterways and marine ecosystems. Since then, water quality has gradually improved and while some threats remain, life is recovering within Sydney Harbour.

Whole seascape restoration & how we plan to do it.

Project Restore is seeking to restore degraded seascapes and biodiversity at up to 11 locations within Sydney Harbour.

Generously funded by NSW Environmental Trust and in partnership with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment as part of the Seabirds to Seascapes Program, Project Restore aims to enhance and regenerate urban marine habitats by recovering lost seagrass meadows, enhancing kelp forests, installing living seawall panels, and deploying artificial fish habitats at key sites within the harbour.

The Sydney Institute of Marine Science, in collaboration with The University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University and the University of Technology Sydney, has been leading the restoration of key degraded habitats and the use of eco-engineering to enhance the habitat value of artificial foreshores.

Project Restore aims to combine the methods and technologies of four SIMS flagship projects: Operation Posidonia, Operation Crayweed, Living Seawalls and Fish Habitat enhancement, which to date have operated largely independently of one another. Together these key projects provide a template for restoration of whole seascapes within urban harbours and waterways.

Project Restore’s vision is to restore and enhance multiple connected habitats in Sydney for marine life and humans to thrive. More importantly if the positive impacts of the project can be clearly articulated and we have a template, we can scale the Sydney Harbour restoration efforts to more locations both within Sydney Harbour and into other urbanised marine environments.

This project will be amongst the first, globally, to move beyond habitat-by-habitat restoration, to provide an example of how multi-habitat restoration can be conducted at seascape scale to not only maximise ecological but also socio-economic benefits

Image: John Turnbull

Project Restore Current Proposed Restoration Sites

We are excited to announce the 11 proposed sites for Project Restore.


Project Restore is enabled by funding from the New South Wales Environmental Trust. We are aiming to raise an additional $1,000,000 to support and expand the program during 2023 and to double the total impact our restoration efforts will have over the three years of the project.