Landholders Driving Change… a Major Integrated Project in action

EROSION is a big issue in the Dry Tropics of North Queensland. It causes valuable topsoil primarily from grazing lands to wash downstream, carrying fine sediment particles that reduce the amount of light needed by coral reefs and seagrass to grow and thrive.

NQ Dry Tropics’ Landholders Driving Change project aims to tackle erosion and improve land management, productivity and reef water quality in the Burdekin region – and graziers have been helping to design solutions.

This project is about keeping soil on the land, to help maximise pasture cover and to keep our waterways clean.

It is delivering a flexible program of innovative and tried and tested activities designed by landholders and tailored to their needs, concentrated on the high-priority Bowen, Broken, Bogie (BBB) catchment near Bowen and Collinsville.

The BBB produces almost a quarter of the total fine sediment load that ends up on the Great Barrier Reef.

The Bowen, Broken and Bogie catchment

These web pages, our online publication – The DIRT- and our monthly bulletin – The Grit – will keep you informed about the progress of the three-year project.

Landholders Driving Change combines graziers’ knowledge with the latest scientific research.

It is trialling and implementing solutions designed to remove the social, financial and technical barriers to practice change.

Some of these solutions, if successful, could be transferred to other catchments.

 

Involving graziers from the start

STRONG and ongoing local participation is the cornerstone of Landholders Driving Change. In order for the project to be truly grazier-focused, it was critical to involve them from the very start of the design process.

To kick things off, graziers representing more than 50 per cent of properties in the BBB attended a series of workshops held during February 2017 in Bowen, Inkerman, Collinsville, and Bowen River. They had the opportunity to propose ideas on which the project should focus.

Their suggestions included gully remediation; improving pasture cover; education and training; incentives to support better practices; and forging closer links between landholders and policy makers.

They also stressed that gully erosion isn’t just a grazier issue, and other land users should be involved. All the ideas raised were discussed, documented and analysed after the sessions.

Once the project team had collated the landholders’ ideas, it was time to develop and prioritise them into an action plan.

During the following months, a group of local graziers, scientists, government officers and technical specialists met regularly to design activities that would:

  • reflect the advice of the local community;
  • reduce levels of sediment runoff to the reef; and
  • help achieve enduring sustainable and productive land management in the BBB.
These activities fall within five main areas:
  1. BBB GRAZIER SUPPORT
    Delivering flexible and tailored services
  2. LANDSCAPE REMEDIATION
    Demonstrating cost-effective remediation solutions
  3. INFLUENCING OTHER LAND MANAGERS
    Achieving a whole-of-catchment effort
  4. EXPLORING NEW INCENTIVES
    Scoping and trialling incentives and institutional arrangements
  5. POLICY ENGAGEMENT
    Linking landholders with policy makers
Graziers and scientists worked together to design an action plan

But involving graziers in project design is just one way Landholders Driving Change is doing things differently.

For the first time, a project at this scale aims to work with a whole community to achieve long-term economic, social and environmental benefits.

Never before has a project taken such a wide-ranging approach to improving land and water quality at a catchment scale.

Putting these actions into practice over the next three years will teach valuable lessons about the suitability and effectiveness of this method.

This knowledge will help to guide future investment in the BBB catchment and other priority Great Barrier Reef catchments.

And because erosion isn’t just an issue for graziers, this groundbreaking project aims to involve all land managers in the BBB, including mines, utilities and government departments.
It works alongside and supports other local projects. Getting the whole community working together and learning from each other will help achieve better long-term land management in the BBB.
Landholders Driving Change is one of two Major Integrated Projects (MIPs) recommended by the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce. The other MIP aims to reduce nutrient and pesticide runoff from cane and banana farms in the Wet Tropics region.
The Queensland Government has committed a total of $33 million to fund the MIPs, which aim to concentrate efforts at a catchment scale, and evaluate their effectiveness.
Gullies more likely in dispersive soilsPress Release - May 10, 2017

Gully expert, Associate Professor Andrew Brooks

A LEADING gully expert working on NQ Dry Tropics’ Landholders Driving Change project says that unstable soils in some areas of the Bowen, Broken, Bogie (BBB) catchment are especially prone to erosion.

Gully expert, Griffith University Associate Professor Andrew Brooks, is working alongside graziers, other scientists and technical experts to design land condition and water quality improvement solutions in the BBB catchment near Collinsville, under the Queensland Government-funded project.

Mr Brooks said: “Gullies are a nuisance for landholders; undermining fences, stockyards and roads – and eventually contributing to reduced available productive land. They are also a major source of sediment runoff into local waterways and the Great Barrier Reef.

“Gullies are a natural landscape process that has been accelerated by human activity over the last 100-150 years.  Some soil types are particularly susceptible to erosion, and some of the soil in this region is highly-dispersive and unstable.

“The problem is that it only takes a small disturbance in the protective top soil for water to get in and expose the subsoils, which literally dissolve on contact, ending up with large expanses of gullies. If left untreated, they will continue to erode until there is no material left”, Mr Brooks said.

He explained that landholders can manage many smaller gullies fairly easily using techniques ranging from increasing ground cover and reducing local grazing pressure, to stabilising with hay bales and rock check dams. But once they get too large they become harder, if not impossible for graziers to manage, and require specialist engineering solutions.

“These larger, what we call alluvial gullies are found on maybe less than 0.2 per cent of the total landscape but could be delivering up to 50 per cent or more of the total sediment load in the BBB region. Most of these big gullies first formed more than 100 years ago when grazing first began in the region. They require specialist management, but have to be addressed to achieve the water quality improvements the Landholders Driving Change project is aiming for.

“This project is different and a great model because all stakeholders groups are coming together around the table at the outset to share knowledge and gain a common understanding of the problem.  During this project, we’ll have the chance to better understand the kind of gullies out there, where they are, how best to fix them, and how much that might cost.

“We’ll be trialling a range of methods to tackle all types of gullies – there is no “one size fits all” strategy. I believe no gully is unmanageable as long as we apply the right techniques. As we get better and more efficient we hope to deliver these solutions at reduced costs. As we set out to repair existing gullies it’s crucial that activities such as road building or inappropriate powerline maintenance don’t create new ones”, Mr Brooks said.

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Internet storiesNQ Register; Queensland Country Life

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Policy Engagement

THE Policy Engagement program aims to support BBB landholders to cut through regulatory red tape that may be preventing them from adopting practice changes.

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BBB Grazier Support

More than 90 per cent of land in the BBB is used for grazing. The BBB Grazier Support program aims to provide all local graziers with education, training, technical support and incentives to help them adopt improved land management practices.


MORE than 20 grazing properties across the BBB catchment are taking part in the whoa boy project. LDC hosted landcare specialist and plant operator Darryl Hill to deliver erosion control grader training to landholders and local contractors who are now undertaking erosion control works across the catchment.
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THE Collinsville small vehicle washdown facility was officially opened in October by Cr Peter Ramage, Whitsunday Regional Council (WRC). The facility, in Darby Munro Park in Collinsville, is available for anybody to use and is designed to reduce the spread of weeds such as prickly pear and lantana across primary production land in the BBB catchment.
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GRAZING practice change is central to the Landholders Driving Change (LDC) project because it is the proven most cost-effective way of improving water quality. Graziers can adopt a wide range of activities to help meet water quality targets.
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Exploring New Incentives

LDC works closely with landholders to investigate a range of approaches that reward good practice, and identify which options to pursue in the BBB. These could include market-based approaches such as grants, concessional loans, insurance mechanisms, stewardship payments, stamp duty relaxation, rate rebates, taxes, levies or market premiums. Some practice changes may only require short-term financial assistance, while others may need additional support to help maintain long-term benefits.


EXPLORING New Incentives is an important component of the LDC project, working with landholders to investigate a range of approaches that reward good practice. LDC engaged CSIRO along with James Cook University and Natural Decisions to research and scope potential institutional arrangements that are realistic in the short term to support ongoing improved practice adoption and landscape remediation over the medium to long term. That report and recommendations is now complete.
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Influencing Other Land Managers

MORE than 90 per cent of land in the BBB is used for grazing. The BBB Grazier Support program aims to provide all local graziers with education, training, technical support and incentives to help them adopt improved land management practices.


LAND access laws for government agencies and utility companies who access properties in North Queensland must be strengthened to safeguard farmers’ best interests, graziers say.
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BURDEKIN graziers are adopting management practices for a more sustainable and productive farming future – and the 2016 results prove it. The estimated annual average total suspended sediment lo
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Landscape Remediation

GULLY erosion causes approximately 65 per cent of the fine sediment load that comes from the BBB. The Landscape Remediation program aims to develop fast, effective and economical approaches to gully remediation.


LANDHOLDERS Driving Change is conducting a large-scale gully remediation project on Mt Wickham. LDC staff walked the landscape with local contractors and representatives from ecological engineering firm Verterra, a principal partner on the project, who developed the gully remediation technical design.
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PROBLEM gullies are the focus of the first Landscape Remediation sites in the Landholders Driving Change project throughout the BBB catchment. Landholders could have possible sites assessed as part of the project. BBB landholders also have available a suite of funded on-ground works.
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THANKS to the landholders who nominated potential gully remediation works, all of which will be  will be assessed and prioritised. The aim is to develop fast, effective and economical approaches to gully remediation, drawing upon the knowledge of graziers and technical specialists.
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Q2 - More than 90 per cent of the NQ Dry Tropics NRM region land is used for grazing, about 6 per cent is government-protected areas (National Parks etc), about 1 per cent is forestry, about 1 per cent is used for growing sugar cane and 1 per cent is other primary production land.

Q3 - There were 1.3m cattle in the area as at the 2015-2016 census. Check it out here.

 

 

 

 

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