Hinchinbrook Wetlands Show Improvement
December 14, 2015
The Hinchinbrook region is known for its wetlands and its ample fishing opportunities. These wetlands play a vital role in the coastal ecosystem by providing a breeding ground for many species of fish and acting as a filter for water entering the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.
Unfortunately changing land use over several decades has adversely impacted the function of the wetlands leading to the invasion of many aquatic weeds. This is detrimental to water quality entering the reef but it also causes problems on land for farmers. The weeds clog the waterway network reducing the flow of water across the landscape, blocking drains and introducing weeds back into paddocks.
However, a proactive partnership involving land holders, Traditional Owners and a local community group has begun working together to restore the integrity and proper functioning of these ecologically important habitats.
The Hinchinbrook Wetlands Alliance (HWA) was formed in early 2014 with representatives from Terrain, James Cook University, CSIRO, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), Herbert Cane Productivity Services Ltd (HCPSL), Hinchinbrook Shire Council (HSC) and Paluma Environmental Education Centre (PEEC).
The group identified priority project sites and received funding through the Queensland Government’s ‘Everyone’s Environment Grants’ to begin the Insulator Wetland Community Restoration Project. It is a three year project being undertaken by HWA in partnership with the landowners (Sam and Santo Lamari) and Bunara, a small group of Nywaygi Traditional Owners who are doing the on-ground work with support from the landowners.
It is a great example of what can be achieved by sharing responsibility through collaboration and after 6 months there has already been a noticeable reduction in weeds. During this time the following activities have been undertaken:
- A baseline survey of existing flora and fauna led by JCU with assistance from Birdlife Townsville
- Implementation of fire and weed management plans that focus on controlling the Hymenachne and Para grass
- Three weed control campaigns which comprised of approximately 12ha of >90% Hymenachne and Para grass and a further 5ha of adjacent Melaleuca wetland which contained lower densities of the weeds
- Presentations to inform other landholders
- Development of a website and information portal and short video highlighting the importance of the work being undertaken