New Incentives update | Landholders Driving Change

Exploring all options to provide incentive to change to better practices

EXPLORING New Incentives is an important component of the LDC project, working with landholders to investigate a range of approaches that reward good practice.

LDC engaged CSIRO along with James Cook University and Natural Decisions to research and scope potential institutional arrangements that are realistic in the short term to support ongoing improved practice adoption and landscape remediation over the medium to long term.

That report and recommendations is now complete.

At its September meeting, the LDC Project Panel is expected to adopt some, or all  recommendations, presented in the Landholders Driving Change: Exploring New Incentives Report to be trialled by the project.

This decision will be circulated to all BBB landholders in the October edition of The Grit.

It is recognised that a mix of complementary incentives and associated institutional reforms are needed to support graziers improve water quality outcomes while continuing to improve productivity and profitability.

A flexible suite of incentives is required to support practice change across the different cohorts of graziers in the BBB.

Different incentives work for different groups of graziers, so a mix of incentives will be used to facilitate engagement and adoption to achieve outcomes across the BBB grazing community.

During the life of the project the LDC and NQ Dry Tropics will engage with key institutions – industry, government – to collaboratively influence the development and trial of incentives and supporting institutional arrangements in the longer-term.

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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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