NQ Dry Tropics Senior Project Officer Lisa Hutchinson and Whitsunday Regional Council Works Supervisor Collinsville Lindsay Mackie.

Jessie Norman, Mt Aberdeen, Meghan Blackburn, OGBR.

Graziers, land managers, scientists, technical specialists, project panel members and government representatives on a field trip.

We value your feedback

Landholders Driving Change is a three-year project that runs to the end of August 2020. From August to December 2020, the team will collate data and results to report back to the Queensland Government.

The design of the project, including each of the five activity areas, evolved through landholder workshops and input.

The project has passed the halfway point, so I have spent the past few weeks touching base directly with all the properties in the Bowen Broken Bogie (BBB) to get feedback from landholders as to how they believe the project is progressing.

During these discussions, landholders were also given the opportunity to provide grass roots suggestions and advice on what the LDC project activity areas should target during the second half of the project. 

I was really impressed with the enthusiasm, and would like to thank everybody who participated, freely giving their time to talk with me.

Some really creative suggestions have come through, and common themes are emerging in the landholder feedback.

This feedback will help the LDC team tailor programs for maximum benefit to the grazing community, and ultimately, for the land and our water too. 

Several landholders identified weed management as being a significant issue.  One idea to help tackle the issue was to have backpackers who are travelling through the catchment and looking for work, supporting landholders to tackle weeds as part of a catchment-wide treatment plan. This is just one of many ideas that are worth exploring.

More than two-thirds of landholders representing 765,000ha of the catchment have spoken with me.  For those who haven’t had a chance to provide feedback or offer suggestions, chances are there is a message or two on your answering machines. 

Please, call me any time on 0448 629 9332 or email barbara.colls@nqdrytropics.com.au

By LDC MERI Officer Barb Colls

Exevale Station graziers Darcy (left) and Buster O’Loughlin (right) discuss the reef regulations with Office of the Great Barrier Reef Director Scott Robinson and DES Principal Policy Advisor Rae Schlecht.

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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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