NQ Dry Tropics Senior Project Officer Cherry Emerick welcomes 20 landholders to the the Landholders Driving Change (LDC) Vegetation Management and Reef Protection Regulations workshop, Bowen River Hotel.

Brett Scott, Flagstone, and Jim Hillier, Glenmore, at the Landholders Driving Change Vegetation Management and Reef Protection Regulations workshop, Bowen River Hotel.

The lowdown on vegetation management and reef protection regulations

The ins and outs of vegetation management laws and new reef protection regulations have been discussed at information sessions held in the BBB.

Maree Cali, of Department of Resources, (left), and Lucille Angel, Mossvale, at the Landholders Driving Change (LDC) Vegetation Management and Reef Protection Regulations workshop, Bowen River Hotel.

The LDC team hosted officers from Department of Resources (DoR), and Department of Environment and Science (DES) at  information sessions held at the Bowen River Hotel, and Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) facility in Bowen in March.

The aim of the sessions was to provide landholders with the latest information about the Vegetation Management Act and the reef regulations.

Vegetation Management Act

Clearing of vegetation in Queensland is regulated by the Vegetation Management Act 1999, which maps areas of regulated vegetation in which clearing is restricted.  

Areas of remnant vegetation are mapped as regulated vegetation and cannot be broad-scale cleared for grazing purposes. 

Representatives from DNRM&E explained what was achievable under the current vegetation management legislation, and answered landholders questions.

Landholders were keen to know how to work within the laws to undertake maintenance clearing, as well as being able to develop country. 

They also sought clarification about which proposed clearing activities were exempt or required a permit; as well as information to help them choose the most appropriate clearing option for proposed activity.

Landholders were also keen to learn more about how to use Queensland Globe software to assist with property mapping. 

Landholders, industry, Department of Environment and Science, and Department of Resources representatives at the Landholders Driving Change Vegetation Management and Reef Protection Regulations workshop which was held at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries facility in Bowen.

Reef protection regulations

Graziers in the Burdekin were the first required to meet the Queensland Government’s new minimum practice agricultural standards for beef cattle grazing which started on 1 December 2020.

Under the reef protection regulations, graziers need to take action to improve land condition and ground cover on areas of grazing land with less than 50 per cent ground cover (measured on 30 September each year).

Graziers sought clarification about the standard conditions graziers needed to meet reef regulations’ minimum practice standards.

Burdekin graziers can access a range of programs and support tools including the Grazing Resilience and Sustainable Solutions (GRASS) program which provides one-on-one support to develop and implement a tailor-made action plan for land management.

NQ Dry Tropics aims to support landholders to access accurate, up to date information, to enable them to make informed on-ground decisions. These workshops were organised under the LDC’s Policy Engagement activity area.

Pictured (from left) are: Stacey and Rowena Haucke, Maree Cali, of Department of Resources, Colleen Rowe and Kimberley Begg at the Landholders Driving Change Vegetation Management and Reef Protection Regulations workshop, Bowen River Hotel.

David Lin, of Department of Resources (left) and Andrew Angel, Mossvale, at the Landholders Driving Change Vegetation Management and Reef Protection Regulations workshop, Bowen River Hotel.

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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.

KEQ #2

*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

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 #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 #5

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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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