Plan to succeed | Landholders Driving Change

LDC Program Manager Lisa Hutchinson, Leanne and Barry O’Sullivan, Glenalpine Station, and Mick Shannon.

Restructure and fresh eyes – there’s never been a better time to get involved with the LDC

I STARTED as project manager for the Landholders Driving Change project on 1 April. The irony was lost on me – but a number of people asked if it was an April Fool’s joke!

My feet have barely touched the ground since.  

I would like to acknowledge the role Andrew Yates has played in managing the project to date and wish both he and his family every success in their new adventures.

Planning is critical to success and those who know me well will have heard me say “fail to plan – plan to fail”.

I have prioritised the need to identify strategies that will maximise project outcomes, while delivering meaningful change that will grow throughout the life of the project and into the future as a legacy for the Bowen Broken Bogie (BBB) catchment.

I have worked with the NQ Dry Tropics Senior Management Team to restructure the project delivery team to ensure we make the best use of staff strengths and capabilities. A Grazing Team Leader role has been created and will be recruited shortly.  

Rodger Walker will assume additional responsibilities and will undertake a broader project support role.

Eilis Walker has been seconded from the Townsville office and will work from Bowen for the next two months to ensure the team has capacity to develop projects and have them contracted before June 30.  Many of you will know of Eilis or have worked with her previously – she will be an asset to the project and I’m excited to have her working with us.

In mid-April I flew to Brisbane to attend my first LDC steering committee meeting.  It was a great opportunity to meet committee members, and I firmly believe we are on the right track with the LDC project, with the project starting to deliver on its commitments.

This project’s success is totally dependent on “buy in” from the BBB community. Engagement with the LDC is not just the responsibility of graziers but for every person who operates within the BBB.

This is a fantastic opportunity for the whole community, because the LDC project supports a culture of stewardship that allows all land managers to be effective custodians of the land.

I believe that when all parties work together with transparency and commitment towards achieving a common goal of improved water quality and reduced erosion – both the responsibility and resulting kudos are shared by all.

In terms of time frames, we are halfway through the project, and in terms of delivery we are better prepared and more committed to meeting the needs of the Broken, Bogie and Bowen catchments than ever before.

If you haven’t been involved with the project to date – now is the time.

Lisa Hutchinson

M: 0427 594 192

E: lisa.hutchinson@nqdrytropics.com.au

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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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