Walking the Landscape Project Completed

April 12, 2018

Our community’s love of waterways and wetlands has been revealed in a project to learn more about thousands of kilometres of rivers, creeks and wetlands criss-crossing the Far North.

More than 200 people have been involved in a two-year ‘Walking the Landscape’ initiative, sharing their knowledge of Wet Tropics waterways that run through their properties and towns, that they fish and swim in or that are part of their daily work.

Terrain NRM’s Bart Dryden said the project identified priorities for improving the health of nine catchments and the Great Barrier Reef.  It also helped people to better understand how activities in the catchments influence water movement.

‘Walking the Landscape’ brought together scientists, technical experts, farmers, other landholders, industry and community groups.

Developed through the Department of Environment and Science’s Queensland Wetlands Program, it has been a partnership project between Terrain NRM and the Wetlands Program, with Terrain funded through the Queensland Government’s NRM Program. Workshops were facilitated by the Queensland Wetland Program’s Mike Ronan.

The Walking the Landscape process combines existing scientific information, such as maps and reports, with the expert knowledge of locals who have ‘walked the landscape’ for decades.

“You can’t beat local knowledge and together with science, maps and reports it gave us a comprehensive overview of every catchment covering changes through the decades, monitoring programs, pollutant loads, land uses and more,’’ Mr Dryden said.

“We now have online ‘story maps’ that include images, mapping, videos and text, and can take anyone on a ‘virtual walk’ through an area.

“This information has already helped with funding decisions on priority actions to better protect catchments and the Reef, with $3.2 million worth of new projects underway for streambank and gully repair in the Herbert River catchment and water quality improvement projects across a number of priority Wet Tropics catchments.

“The Walking the Landscape model is also being used for another project now – the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project which focuses on the Tully and Johnstone catchments.”

He said Walking the Landscape participants had volunteered to be part of it and many had extended their interest to neighbouring catchments.  Rather than clock up thousands of kilometres on foot, they attended workshops in different regions and talked their way through each bend and turn of rivers, creeks and streams and the catchment using aerial mapping.

Story maps are available on the Wet Tropics Plan for People and Country website at www.wettropicsplan.org.au