Policy Engagement

THE aim of the Policy Engagement Activity Area is to facilitate better landholder engagement in relevant policy development and implementation in the Bowen, Broken and Bogie (BBB) catchments.

A great example of how the LDC project can coordinate engagement between government and landholders on policy and regulatory issues arose in 2017 with the State Government’s release of the proposed Reef Protection Regulations and Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS).

The LDC project panel organised and facilitated a workshop in December 2017 involving graziers, DEHP (now DES) staff and NQ Dry Tropics staff. Approximately 24 people participated in the workshop.

The aim of the workshop was two-fold:

  1. Outline the proposed Great Barrier Reef protection regulation package and RIS, and;
  2. Seek feedback from graziers in the BBB catchment on the proposed regulation package, the RIS and, in particular, how the Queensland Government could best implement the proposed regulatory package.

As a result, the LDC project panel prepared a submission, focused on the proposed grazing standards. The LDC project supported graziers to better understand regulatory requirements so they could review and comment on the proposed regulations during public consultation.

Discussion paper

IN March 2017, the Queensland Government released the Enhancing regulations to ensure clean water for a health Great Barrier Reef and a prosperous Queensland discussion paper for feedback. The paper outlined a number of proposals to enhance the existing reef protection regulations to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution across key industries in Great Barrier Reef catchments.

Feedback from the discussion paper helped refine the regulatory proposals and preparation of a regulatory impact statement (RIS) which was released for public consultation for a period of 11 weeks in total, closing on 19 February 2018.

For further information on the Queensland Government’s Reef Regulations:

 

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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.