M&E – it’s not always dull

MONITORING and evaluation (M&E) can be fun… yes, truly.

It gets to be a lot of fun when you persuade certain members of the LDC team to install moisture probes.

These photos and videos, taken by the project’s M&E officer Barb Colls, capture Sheridan Callcott (on the hurdy gurdy) and Sheyanne Frisby (driving in the star picket) installing 80cm Agrotek soil moisture probes at the Mt Pleasant Learning Hub.  

These will monitor moisture levels at each 10cm of depth and allow the team to evaluate to what extent the treatment features impact soil moisture depth and retention compared to the control site.

Contrary to what it may look like, the probes were successfully installed and are working well!

Get more information on the Learning Hub here. (Make sure you scroll right to the end, there’s lots of info and pictures).

M&E is used to assess the performance of LDC with the goal to improve current and future management of outputs, outcomes and impact.

Monitoring and evaluation is important because it:

  • provides the only consolidated source of information, showcasing project progress;
  • allows stakeholders to learn from each other’s experiences, building on expertise and knowledge;
  • generates reports that contribute to transparency and accountability, and allows for lessons to be shared more easily;
  • offers paths for learning and improvements;
  • provides a basis for questioning and testing assumptions;
  • provides a means for agencies seeking to learn from their experiences and to incorporate them into policy and practice;
  • provides a way to assess the crucial link between implementers and beneficiaries on the ground and decision-makers;
  • adds to the retention and development of institutional memory; and
  • provides a more robust basis for raising funds and influencing policy.

These stories explain why Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting & Improvement (MERI) is important to the LDC:


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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