Hinchinbrook Team Resuscitates Wetland

Kathryn Dryden
November 24, 2016

Hinchinbrook Team Resuscitates Wetland

45 people attended the wetland at the Pests and Weeds Symposium, 2016.

Funded by: Queensland Government’s ‘Everyone’s Environment Grant’.

A degraded wetland in the Ingham area has seen a major health turnaround thanks to a dedicated farming family, with help from a team of local and regional organisations. Less than 18 months ago, over half of a 40ha wetland was choked with paragrass and hymenachne. It now boasts a living breathing ecosystem with healthy water and an abundance of wildlife.

Sam and Santo Lamari were keen to improve the condition of the wetland on their farm. Their father intentionally protected it from going under cane because they valued the area so much.

Mr Lamari said, “The wetland connects the mountains to Halifax Bay Wetlands National Park which flows out to the reef. It’s important to us as it provides sanctuary for birds and fish which we want to see more of on our place. The area is also habitat for the endangered Mahogany Glider.”

The wetland was choked with exotic weeds, trapping sediment, resulting in little to no oxygen in the water and therefore a low abundance of fish. Mr Lamari said, “We are thrilled to say that many of the weeds have been reduced with native species taking their place, and life is thriving!”

More than six species of sedges, reeds and rushes as well as large patches of a native water hyacinth and nardoo have emerged. In one year, James Cook University (JCU) surveys of the site have indicated an increase in native plants and animals. Mr Lamari said, “Native frogs are literally jumping on your legs and feet as you walk!”

Terrain NRM auspiced the $90k project, which was granted to the Hinchinbrook Wetlands Alliance to support the Lamari’s with restoration of the wetland over a 3 year period. Funding was received from the Queensland Government’s ‘Everyone’s Environment Grant’.

Terrain’s Jacqui Richards said as part of the Alliance, “We wanted to restore the integrity of the wetland, improve water quality flowing to the reef, help control aquatic weeds, and enable landholder community education and awareness regarding the importance of wetlands.

The aboriginal organisation Bunura has rolled out the on ground work in conjunction with the landholders. Bunura’s Director, Mr Berry (a direct descendant of Bunura) said, “The project has given Traditional Owners an opportunity to work on Country and build our skills, our business and our partnerships with farmers.”

The site has already been a place of education with visits from over 15 landholders who participated in a field trip and a further 44 delegates from the Pest and Weeds Symposium as well as numerous volunteers and JCU students. In addition the Alliance has delivered presentations to 80 grade eight students from Ingham High School and a further 20 landholders during the cane shed meetings.

Ms Richards said, “Next year, there will be a youth day at the wetlands to plant native grasses to replace some of the remaining para grass. Further landholder and community activities will follow on in 2017 as well as another round of on-ground works to be delivered by Bunura.”

The Hinchinbrook Wetlands Alliance is made up of representatives from Terrain NRM, JCU, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Paluma Environmental Education Centre, CSIRO, Hinchinbrook Shire Council, Herbert Cane Productivity Services Ltd, and others. The group meets four times per year and works together to improve health of waterways and wetlands in the Hinchinbrook area.

For further info contact Jacqui Richards at Jacqui.richards@terrain.org.au or 07 4043 8000.