Would your property make a good demonstration site?

RESTORING landscape function, the introduction of technology and innovation in land management and access to cutting-edge monitoring systems, extension packages and training… they are some of the benefits on offer for people who allow their property to become a demonstration site for the Landholders Driving Change project.

Senior Project Officer Lisa Hutchinson is behind a plan to establish two demonstration sites – one in the Bowen, Broken and Bogie (BBB) catchment – and another in the Don River catchment.

She said the demonstration sites would be modelled on the Mulloon Creek project near Canberra designed and guided by The Mulloon Institute.

“Having demonstration sites where the Best Management Practice (BMP) theories are implemented gives people a ground-truth to help them make similar changes on their own properties,” Ms Hutchinson said.

She said the current science showed the Don and BBB catchments were among the highest contributors of fine sediment in runoff water flowing into the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon.

“Modelling suggests they export four times as much sediment as any other reef catchment,” she said.

While focusing on repairing damaged watercourses and eroding gullies did reduce the sediment load, changing the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and aspirations of the land managers in the area would target the cause, rather than the symptom and have even more effect in the long term.

She said if people could see best management practices applied on the ground, they would better understand the benefit of implementing it on their own property.

The demonstration sites would become a “One-Stop Shop” for land managers looking for solutions to problems on their own properties.

Keen to know more about it? Read the criteria here, fill in the form and submit it.

Not sure? Get in touch with Lisa on email lisa.hutchinson@nqdrytropics.com.au or on mobile 0427 594 192 and she will answer any questions.

RIGHT: Landscape rehydration water flow control structures at the Mulloon Institute demonstration site

A demonstration site enables extension officers to show landholders and managers exactly how to put the theory into practice

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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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