LDC halfway | Landholders Driving Change

Inspecting stage one of the gully rehabilitation works at Mt Wickham.

Garlone Moulin, of Mt Pleasant, talks about management practices and biodviersity on the property.

Glencore’s David Gallo shares knowledge about landscape remediation methodologies on mine sites and principals that are transferable to smaller scale sites.

Halfway through… and the change is clear

The NQ Dry Tropics’ Landholders Driving Change (LDC) project has reached the halfway point.

It is piloting land management and repair approaches at a catchment scale, evaluating their effectiveness in
improving water quality and long-term sustainable land management.

The project is concentrating effort in the Bowen, Broken, Bogie (BBB) catchment, near Bowen and Collinsville.

To showcase the project’s achievements, and to outline the next phase of activities, graziers and delivery partners toured the BBB.

The bus carried 35 participants, including graziers, scientists, engineering, mines and technical experts.

They visited Mt Wickham Station where the first stage of landscape rehabilitation has been completed and Glenbowen Station, where on-ground large scale gully remediation works were about to start.

The group also visited Mt Pleasant Station which has been established as a demonstration site and learning hub to ground-truth a wide range of grazing management and landscape remediation techniques.

The day ended with a social event at the Collinsville Community Centre to thank supporters of the LDC project.

LDC is a Burdekin Major Integrated Project funded by the Queensland Government through the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program.

Dr Rebecca Bartley, research scientist, CSIRO Land and Water, talks about the water quality monitoring program that CSIRO are conducting at Mt Wickham as part of the monitoring and evaluation program.

Grazier Glen Rea, Kirknie Station, provided an overview of his family business and his involvement with the LDC community water quality monitoring group.

LDC project manager Lisa Hutchinson (left), with Glenbowen Station graziers Melissa, Darcy and Christian Cormack.

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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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