LDC Policy Engagement | Landholders Driving Change

Glenlea Station grazier Peter Andersen makes a points during the reef regulations meeting held in Bowen last year.

Policy engagement a cornerstone of the LDC

THE LDC project facilitates and fosters grassroots input into policy formulation and implementation.

LDC has, through roundtable conferences and stakeholder meetings, given graziers and others the opportunity to directly affect policy.

REEF REGULATIONS

BBB graziers had significant and meaningful input in the design of the draft reef regulations before they were passed as law in September 2019.  (The Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019).

This included:

  • Changing the original 12-month implementation time-frame to be staged over three years.
  • Graziers desire to see compliance effort focus on maintaining land that is in good or fair condition; and implementing measures to improve land in poor or degraded condition…  was incorporated into the minimum grazing standards.
  • Graziers request that the guidance material acknowledge that not all land and soil types responded in the same way throughout the reef catchments at different times of the year; and that some gully systems were too large for landholders to remediate by themselves… was accepted, and is included in the Grazing Requirements fact sheets.

POLICY ROUNDTABLE 

A roundtable was held in Townsville February 2019 to:

  • provide a platform to explore opportunities to influence existing and *proposed regulations to better support water quality outcomes; and 
  • to discuss the intent of existing and proposed regulations, and the impact of these regulations on grazing operations.   

It brought together BBB graziers, representatives from NQ Dry Tropics, the Department of Environment and Science (DES), the Office of Great Barrier Reef (OGBR), the Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy (DNRME) – including directors from relevant government departments (Vegetation, Reef, Water and Protected Plants).

A number of actions were prioritised, which led to two key outcomes:

  • Improvements to the ‘blue dot’ Protected Plants Trigger map associated with the Protected Plants legislation, and including additional information about protected plants in the Vegetation Management Property Reports. 
  • Obtaining DNRME agreement to explore options for meeting reef protection measures and vegetation management requirements.

Exploring options to test an alternative approach for landholders to meet reef protection measures and vegetation management requirements.

BBB landholder, Bristow Hughes, of Strathalbyn Station, near Collinsville, who attended the LDC policy roundtable, subsequently submitted a proposal to OGBR highlighting challenges associated with improving land condition (weed control) to meet reef protection regulations at the same time as meeting vegetation management obligations.

DNRME agreed to investigate.

Representatives from DNRME, OGBR, Queensland Herbarium and NQ Dry Tropics will meet with Mr Hughes on-property, to better understand the problem and look for solutions.

The on-site investigation will be conducted as corona virus restrictions permit, and the outcomes will be communicated to the BBB community and roundtable participants.

This is an excellent example of how LDC is facilitating landholder engagement in policy development, review, and implementation in the BBB.

* The Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 was in draft form when the roundtable was held.

 
 
 

COLLECTIVE THINKING… Working with sheets of butcher’s paper are (from left): Glenlea Downs grazier Peter Anderson, Mt Pleasant Station grazier and Landholders Driving Change Project Panel member Garlone Mouline, Glenalpine Station grazier Leanne O’Sullivan and Department of Environment and Science representative Leigh Smith.

At the roundtable conference are (from left): Strathalbyn Station grazier Bristow Hughes, Meghan Blackburn from OGBR, and Glencoe Station grazier Bob Harris.

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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.

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*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

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 #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.

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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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