Wild fire has left a scar on the Eungella landscape that will be evident for many years.

Eungella Rainforest Cluster Group formed

A Eungella Rainforest Cluster Group has been formed to ensure landholders and the wider Eungella community are provided with on-ground and technical resources to help their efforts to improve land and water condition on fire impacted properties.

Many landholders had their remnant rainforest and Wet Eucalypt dominated forest communities completely burnt out.

There is concern within the community that fire sensitive rainforest species are not regenerating and weeds are growing at an unprecedented rate post 2018 fires.

Aims of the project:

  • provide bushfire affected landholders with on-ground support and advice on how to manage their land using best practice during the restoration process; 
  • provide and upskill the wider Eungella community with knowledge, resources and skills to sustainably manage their local environment;
  • provide lead-in examples for future projects; and
  • to encourage knowledge sharing and adoption of practices that address land and water condition risks and improvements post fire.

Pioneer Catchment Landcare is delivering the Eungella Rainforest Cluster Group project as part of the LDC’s BBB Grazier Support activity area.

The project will be completed by June 2020, and community field days will be held to communicate project results. 

NQ Dry Tropics LDC Land Remediation Officer Rodger Walker with Eungella graziers Shanara Paton and Mick Sheehy.

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Figure 1. Total fine sediment reduction by project type and erosion source. Inset shows the proportion of the total project area for each project type.

These estimates have been calculated using two methods: 

1) The pollutant reduction component of the Alluvium/Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) investment tool for hillslope and streambank erosion management projects; 

2) The Reef Trust Gully Toolbox method for gully erosion management projects. The LDC Water Quality Report 2020 (Waterhouse et al., 2020) highlights that a number of assumptions underlay these calculations, therefore these figures should be treated as the best available estimate of sediment reductions to date.

Preventing sediment from reaching the Great Barrier Reef

Each wet season sediment is washed into local waterways and out to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). 

Most sediment is very fine, and can stay suspended for a long time and can travel great distances. Valuable topsoil is lost from production, and increased concentrations on the reef can be harmful to seagrasses and corals. 

Landholders in the BBB have completed 69 on-ground water quality practice changes, and it is estimated that these have contributed a fine sediment reduction of 6,154 tonnes per year from reaching the GBR. 

Of this, approximately half of the sediment savings are attributable to grazing land management changes on hillslopes and streambanks, and the other half as a result of gully remediation treatments across a broad range of scales, as shown in the graphs above. 

The table below also highlights the relatively small area of intervention in the gully management projects compared to the large sediment savings that these can achieve - 60 per cent of the sediment savings over only 4 per cent of the project area.

Table 1. Estimated sediment reductions (tonnes) from projects completed in the LDC Project to date.

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*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

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*The Exploring New Incentives activity area has provided an opportunity for graziers to adopt improved land management practices through a range of activities. For some of these properties, it was the first time they signed contracts for on-ground works.

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The LDC project monitors four gully sites (represented in this table) with gold standard equipment and analysis, carried out by CSIRO.

Results have been compiled in a preliminary report from Bartley et al (2020), with the final report expected to be released by the end of 2020. The preliminary report shows all four sites have indicators of improvements, notably the Strathbogie and Mt Wickham sites.

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Reef regulations - grazing, standard conditions

  1. For land in good or fair condition (more than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), continue using measures to maintain land condition.
  2. For land in poor condition (less than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition.
  3. For land in degraded condition (less than 20 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition OR prevent areas from further degrading or expanding.
  4. Keep records of measures taken and also of agricultural chemicals, fertiliser and mill mud or mill ash applied to land.
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