Despite an undeserved reputation for being dull and homogenous systems, mangal and saltmarsh in Australia have highly complex patterns and processes. Their role as key 'edge' systems between land and sea has implications for many species which have larval stages in mangal and saltmarsh, but spend adult life as benthic, pelagic or demersal species. Many such species are also important commercially. Mangal and saltmarsh are both highly dynamic systems, reacting rapidly to changes in hydrological condition and sedimentation. In many areas of the world mangal and saltmarsh are threatened systems, especially near human habitation. Appropriate management strategies for mangal and saltmarsh are therefore critical for both conservation and sustainable use, the two key objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Clearing and associated development, invasion of alien species, pollution effects and poor management are the key threats to these systems. Management at a bioregional level, including the development of a comprehensive system of protected areas, is identified as the key management strategy which will ensure an adequate future for these dynamic systems.