Tackling erosion with trees

March 19, 2020

Teams of tree-planters are helping to fight erosion on Tablelands properties in a boon for farmers, the Johnstone River and Great Barrier Reef.

Millaa Millaa graziers Elizabeth, Bruce and Gordon Carcary are among the numbers opening their gates to revegetation crews as part of a $2.3 million project focused on erosion hotspots in the Tablelands-Innisfail region.

Five thousand native trees were planted at the Carcary’s grazing property this week in a landslide area, and 2000 trees, shrubs and grasses went into the ground along an eroded creek system on a Malanda property.

Mrs Carcary welcomed the helping hands of Terrain NRM staff and its service provider NQ Land Management Services.

“This was a timely opportunity for us – we have an 80m long, 50m wide landslip that happened after two to three days of heavy rains a couple of years ago,’’ she said. “It’s on steep land that we fenced but it has been needing stabilisation to the stop more land falling in and topsoil washing away.”

Terrain NRM’s Jen Mackenzie said historical clearing of steep rainforest country for grazing had created landscapes susceptible to erosion. The two tree-planting projects will, each year, prevent an estimated 200 tonnes of sediment from flowing into the Johnstone River catchment and out to the Great Barrier Reef.

“Trees are a very cost-effective way of stabilising soil and the most economical way to deal with these two sites based on their physical characteristics,’’ Mrs Mackenzie said.

“We look at erosion on a site-by-site basis. On one property we installed rock structures known as Zuni bowls to solve gully erosion, and we’ve put in creek crossings on another property to stop erosion caused by cattle and vehicles. We’ll be working with these graziers over three years.”

The Upper Johnstone Integrated Project is funded by the Queensland Government through its Natural Resource Investment Program. It also includes public workshops on grazing management practices.

Ms Mackenzie said the Johnstone River catchment was a priority for water quality improvement, with the Far North’s highest sediment reduction target as part of the Australian and Queensland Government’s Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.

“This project is all about reducing sediment losses to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon while helping graziers to help themselves by addressing erosion problems and improving their pastures and livelihoods,’’ she said.

For more information about the Upper Johnstone Integrated Project, visit the project page.