Mossman Canegrowers to Fight Streambank Erosion

February 22, 2019

Streambanks in the Mossman catchment will be better able to withstand flood events through a $1 million investment into integrated catchment repair.

Flooding in March 2018 caused major streambank erosion in much of the Mossman area, triggering a collaborative effort by local canegrowers, industry, council and natural resource management to secure funding to help address the issue.

“It’s distressing for farmers both on a social and economical level when they see this kind of damage to the land they’re managing,” Terrain NRM’s Vanessa Drysdale said.

“At the end of the day, farmers are business people. Stable streambanks are an important asset, and farmers want to manage their landscapes to be as productive as possible.”

Some areas were less affected than others, particularly those with existing vegetative cover or that had previously been stabilised with rock.  

“We’re seeing pretty clear evidence that riparian vegetation combined with rock works is the best way to stabilise streambanks.”

The project’s native riparian vegetation management and soil erosion prevention techniques are being informed by the best available scientific and local knowledge.

Funded by the Queensland Government’s Natural Resources Investment Program, the project will work with farmers on remediation activities that include planting and extending riparian vegetation, and construction of engineered rock works like walls, groynes and chutes that stabilise watercourses and improve property drainage.

The activities will reduce the export of sediments to the Great Barrier Reef from eroding stream banks, and encourage wildlife and increase biodiversity.

Ms Drysdale said an integrated approach was a priority. The project is focussing on the Cassowary and Saltwater sub-catchments which were selected for the potential to repair their entire reaches.

“We wanted to take a whole-of-system approach, rather than a patchwork approach which tends to be a bit of a bandaid fix and just pushes the problem up- or downstream, ” she said.

“The majority of farmers in Cassowary and Saltwater are already working together, which really value adds to the project.”

“Streambank stabilisation is expensive. We want to use the money the best way we can for the most impact so that in three years’ time we can present a strong case to funders to roll this approach out in other sub-catchments.”

Farmers will also be supported through extension efforts, and knowledge and capacity building. 

Riparian planting is expected to begin before June.