A warm welcome to the LDC project in 2021

LDC Manager Georg Wandrag

By LDC Manager GEORG WANDRAG

 

I was appointed as project manager for the Landholders Driving Change project in November 2020, and along with the LDC team, I look forward to working with the BBB community for the next phase of the project.  

Progress and success of the LDC project is a testament to the hard work and commitment of the BBB community, the LDC team, and LDC’s delivery partners. The foundations have been laid to support future investment.

The BBB catchment delivers about 50 per cent of the fine sediment load from the Burdekin Basin and it remains a priority catchment for improving water quality outcomes.

I encourage you to read the latest updates which provide a comprehensive overview of the project’s achievements thus far:

Pictured, from left, are: Rodger Walker and Chris Poole (NQ Dry Tropics), with Paul Humphreys (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries) at the Paddock to Reef training organised by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and hosted by NQ Dry Tropics.

Testing aggregate strength by measuring slaking and dispersion in water. LDC staff attended soils training in Bowen earlier this year.

The GBRF funded phase of the project overlaps with the finalisation of the Queensland Government’s funded project activities. NQ Dry Tropics is working hard to manage transitional staffing, and monitoring and reporting arrangements.

Staff members have been busy continuing to update their knowledge and skills and have undertaken Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting program training and soils training.

This year is shaping up to be a busy one. BBB landholders have been encouraged to apply for a Sediment Loss Prevention Grant to assist them with implementing changes to improve their land management. 

The application process was competitive with project proposals ranked based on assessment criteria. The closing date was 26 March and proposals are currently being assessed. Successful projects need to be completed within one year.

A large-scale gully remediation project has been identified on Havilah Station near Collinsville. This site was identified as a priority gully cluster in the LDC’s gully prioritisation report. 

A concept design is being developed, and when finalised, local contractors will undertake earthworks.

A calendar of educational workshops is also being developed, and BBB landholders and project stakeholders will be invited to attend these as they roll out throughout the year. 

The LDC branding will remain for this project to provide important continuity for the BBB community.

The community will continue to be updated and informed of project progress through the dedicated newsletter, The Grit. Two editions of the newsletter will be produced each year, a Winter edition distributed in June, and a Summer edition to be distributed in December.

I encourage you to contact one of the team members to get involved with Landholders Driving Change.

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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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