From little things, big things grow (back) in fire-damaged rainforest

SWATHES of burnt-out rainforest at Eungella are being transformed thanks to the dedication of the Eungella Rainforest Recovery Cluster group.

Seedlings, funded by the LDC project, are being planted to rehabilitate remnant rainforest destroyed in the 2018 bushfires.

LDC has enlisted the expertise of Pioneer Catchment & Landcare to work with the nine-member Eungella Rainforest Recovery Cluster group to complete a fire restoration and revegetation project.

The project includes revegetating rainforest destroyed by bushfires, and putting in place management plans to ensure properties recover from the bushfires and are protected from future threats.  

The LDC project has purchased seedlings through The Mackay Nursery, and Pioneer Catchment and Landcare officer Peter Alden has been busy distributing them to landholders.

 The cluster group is addressing several issues:

  • how to correctly identify the difference between native regrowth and unwanted weeds within burnt forest;
  • how to implement best management practices to tackle weeds;
  • the dos and don’ts of clearing burnt vegetation;  
  • how to tackle erosion issues in areas impacted by fire;
  • the possibility of using “seed bombs” to rehabilitate sections of burnt forest;
  • using Vetiver grass to help reduce erosion risk on steep banks and scars; and
  • the use of compost tea on pasture.

The second Eungella Rainforest Cluster Group field day is scheduled for Saturday, 23 May.

Peter Alden, Landcare Officer, Pioneer Catchment and Landcare Group addresses the field day participants.

QPWS Rangers from Eungella National Park planting project supplied native seedlings in a
weedy patch of burnt rainforest at the entrance of Sky Window Lookout.

Peer groups are an important part of the LDC goals

An important component of LDC is to foster peer groups in the BBB catchment that are self-directed, and supported by extension staff, to help deliver skills and knowledge.

The Eungella Rainforest Recovery Cluster group is one of six cluster groups.

To be successful, peer groups require openness, mutual respect for one another’s ideas, opinions and suggestions, and confidentiality, even if members don’t always agree.

In a peer group everything gets shared — what works, what doesn’t and why. Trust is key.


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.
KEQ #8

KEQ #7
KEQ #6

KEQ #5

KEQ #4

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.

KEQ #3

*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.

KEQ #1

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.

KEQ #2

*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

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