One of the helicopters carrying UNESCO visitors touches down at Glen Bowen Station. The McCormack family waits in the shade of a nearby tree to greet them.

Delegates standing on a gully control site, remediation works can be seen on the right.

Landscape Remediation Officer Dan Hazelman explains the technical considerations made when designing a solution for an actively eroding gully.

NQ Dry Tropics MERI Officer Marc McConnell (left) and Landscape Remediation Officer Dan Hazelman enjoying the flight. 

A view enroute to the BBB.

UNESCO visits
the BBB

NQ Dry Tropics hosted the United Nations monitoring mission when it toured North Queensland. So much has been achieved by graziers in the LDC project, it was a no-brainer to take the delegates on a trip through the BBB catchment in March.

The Australian Government asked us to show what’s being achieved ‘on-ground’ to improve the quality of water flowing from the land to the sea into the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) lagoon.

So much has been achieved by graziers in the Landholders Driving Change project, it was a no-brainer that we would take the monitoring mission on a trip through the BBB catchment.

The two overseas experts got to see first-hand a range of large-scale and small-scale landscape gully remediation projects conducted by LDC. They also heard about the land management practices, including grazing management, that have been implemented.

The delegation also had the opportunity to speak with graziers who completed gully works on their property.

They also heard about the work being undertaken by the LDC Community Water Quality Monitoring Group to better understand the water quality variations throughout the catchment.

A Greening Australia (GA) gully remediation site was also visited and GA representatives were also part of the tour. 

It was a great day. We were proud to showcase landholders and land managers efforts doing their bit to improve water quality through landscape interventions and land management.

This information booklet (right) was produced for the monitoring mission delegates.

CEO NQ Dry Tropics Dr Scott Crawford explains the work that was done on ground at a site during the UNESCO tour of the BBB.

A view of one of the remediated gully sites on Glen Bowen, the green patch pictured near the centre of the photo.

A taste of Australia… lunch at the Bowen River Hotel.

A fantastic view of the Burdekin River as the delegates headed out from Townsville to the BBB.

 

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.
KEQ #8

KEQ #7
KEQ #6

KEQ #5

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.

KEQ #3

*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 #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.

KEQ #2

*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

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