Rainforest field day | Landholders Driving Change

Peter Alden, Landcare Officer, Pioneer Catchment and Landcare Group addresses the field day participants.

Bob Shepherd, DAF, during his presentation at the Eungella Field Day.

Cluster Group tends to damaged rainforest

RAINFOREST at Eungella is still recovering from the impacts of the 2018 fires that roared through the region, and a dedicated group of landholders is taking proactive action to help the landscape recover.

More than 30 people attended Eungella Rainforest Cluster Group’s first field day, held in December, to discuss issues around bushfire recovery and restoration, including burnt forest management, erosion control and weed identification.

The field day was held specifically for bushfire affected landholders in the Eungella area.

It was conducted in three parts – an afternoon session that visited two sites, an evening session at the Broken River Mountain Resort conference room, followed by a dinner.

The purpose of the day was to: 

  • Provide bushfire affected landholders with on-ground support and advice on how to manage their land using best practice during the restoration process.
  • Provide and upskill the wider Eungella community with knowledge, resources and skills to sustainably manage their local environment.

The field day was well attended with 19 landholders from 15 properties, one of them a presenter on the day.

Project partners were represented by 11 people there on behalf of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, DNRM&E, DAF, Pioneer Catchment and Landcare Group, Queensland Disaster Recovery project, and NQ Dry Tropics.

Participants took part in a guided walk at the Sky Window with Pioneer Landcare’s Peter Alden who talked about the impacts of the 2018 fires in that area and the natural regeneration that has occurred since.

He also talked about weed and native plant identification.

A walk at Clarke Range Road provided landholders with an opportunity to discuss how best to manage burnt vegetation in gullies.

DNRM&E officers attended and advised landholders about what they could do regarding clearing under the Vegetation Management Act. 

DAF’s principal extension officer Bob Shepherd provided advice on soil and erosion management.

The evening part of the workshop included presentations from LDC project manager Lisa Hutchinson, on the LDC project and progress to date, Kerri Barden from DNRM&E on the Vegetation Management Act, and Bob Shepherd on soil and erosion management.

Bob Shepherd, DAF, talks about weed control  in the rainforest.

Participants at the Eungella Field Day prepare to head off on a guided walking tour in the rainforest.

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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.

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.

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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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