Jessica Szalinski, Glencore, (left) and Penelope Davis, Glencore, with (from left) Lindsay Mackie, WRC Works Supervisor Collinsville Depot and WRC Manager Natural Resources Management Scott Hardy

Workshops targeted utility provider groups

More than 15 people from local government and utility organisations attended two workshops in February targeted at non-graziers who manage or use land in the BBB.

They learnt about opportunities to get involved in the LDC project so it can truly be a whole-of-catchment effort.

The half day workshops included:

  • An overview of the LDC project
  • A facilitated shared learning session
  • An update on the proposed collaborative Whitsunday Regional Council / LDC Best
  • Management Practice Erosion Sediment Control project
  •  An insight from a grazier on the LDC project panel
  • An overview of upcoming training opportunities.

LDC Senior Project Officer Lisa Hutchinson said the workshops were well received with participants agreeing to work towards a community-wide approach to achieve long term economic, social and environmental benefits.

“Success in this program area will be demonstrated when mines, utility companies and government departments work collaboratively with graziers to ensure the whole community learns together and strives for better long term land management in the BBB,” Ms Hutchinson said.

“I think it is critical that we engage with land managers outside of the grazing community to ensure that  everyone is on board with this project and we are all working towards a common goal.

“We will never achieve the outcomes we desire if our sole focus is on the grazing community.

“In saying that – this is not a finger pointing exercise – this is a process of gaining an understanding of how other land managers operate, identifying a standard of practice equivalent to what we are asking of the grazing community, then ensuring those responsible for implementing and maintaining on ground works have the knowledge and commitment to deliver at this level.”

EIM’s Anatol Stremouchiw problem solving at the workshop

Ergon Team Leader Peter Gorrie with LDC Senior Project Officer Lisa Hutchinson

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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

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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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