New project protects Reef, tackles erosion

January 16, 2019

A $2.3 million project to protect the Great Barrier Reef will focus on erosion hotspots between Innisfail and the Tablelands.

With the highest sediment reduction target in the Far North – at 40 per cent or 100 kilo-tonnes by 2025 - the Johnstone River catchment is a priority for water quality improvement.

The four-year Upper Johnstone Integrated Project, which is funded by the Queensland Government, will include earthworks to reshape gullies, revegetation, fencing-off eroded streambank areas and creating off-stream water points for cattle. It will also have a large focus on grazing management practices.

Terrain NRM’s Evizel Seymour said project leaders would be working closely with graziers and other landholders to identify priority erosion hotspots and the best solutions.

“We will also be bringing specialists to the area for a series of free landholder workshops on soil health and other things like pasture management practices, with time in the paddock for practical application,’’ she said.

The Upper Johnstone Integrated Project has been funded through the Queensland Government’s Natural Resource Investment Program.

The new project follows an investment of up to $15 million in the lower Johnstone and Tully River catchments through the Queensland Government’s Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project. This project is currently trialling on-farm bioreactors, high-efficiency sediment basins and manmade wetlands as ways to reduce nutrient and pesticide loads entering the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon.

Evizel said the Upper Johnstone project was in its initial stages with ‘Walking the Landscape’ workshops held about the Malanda, Ithaca Creek and Nerada sub-catchment areas initially to help identify priority erosion hotspots.

The workshops brought together graziers, other landholders, representatives from federal, state and local government and botany and ecology specialists.

“The next steps will be visiting a number of sites,’’ she said. “This project, which will complement the larger Johnstone project, is running for four years and we are looking forward to working with landholders over that time to repair erosion and reduce the risks of new erosion.”

The sediment reduction target for the Johnstone River catchment is part of the Australian and Queensland Government’s Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan. The plan covers all land-based sources of water pollution from agricultural activities to run-off from urban, industrial and public lands. It sets water quality targets, based on modelling and other scientific information, for all catchments adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef.