Upper Johnstone Integrated Project

This project targets erosion hot-spots and works with graziers on land management practices. The goal is to reduce sediment loads entering the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

The Upper Johnstone Integrated Project is funded by the Queensland Government's Natural Resources Investment Program.

Terrain NRM has begun working with grazing landholders in the Malanda Creek, Ithaca Creek and Nerada catchment areas.

Remediation activities include:

  • earthworks to reshape gullies
  • revegetation and weed management
  • fencing-off eroded streambank areas
  • creating off-stream watering points for cattle
  • grazing management practice change
  • grazier workshops and support with pasture management and soil health

Why it’s important

Sediment is one of the major pollutants affecting the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

When fine sediment is suspended in water on the reef it blocks the sunlight that algae needs to photosynthesise and give coral its vibrant colours.

Sea grasses also need sunlight to survive. Sediment can drop out of suspension, and kill or damage sea grass beds by smothering them, which also has a knock-on affect on the mammals and fish that feed on them.

The Johnstone River catchment is one of the two highest priorities for sediment reduction in the Wet Tropics, and the fourth highest priority across the Great Barrier Reef catchments.  The Upper Johnstone Integrated Project will help to achieve water quality targets set by the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.

This project complements the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project which is working with farmers in the lower Johnstone and Tully River catchments. It also complements the Reef Trust IV Streambank and Gully Erosion project in the Herbert River catchment.

What causes sediment to reach the Reef

Subsoil erosion causes about 90 per cent of the fine sediment load that flows into the Great Barrier Reef basin.

Erosion became a problem after livestock grazing and other catchment disturbances began between 1850 and 1900.

Basalt soils in the Upper Johnstone catchment erode easily if disturbed, and their high clay content can cause significant turbidity once it reaches the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. 

Some of the things that cause erosion of these soils are grazing practices, cattle having access to watercourses, a lack of streambank vegetation and the location of farm infrastructure such as dam spillways.

Who to contact

If you are a land manager in the Upper Johnstone and you would like to find out more about this project, please contact:

Jen Mackenzie on 0438 206343 or jennifer.mackenzie@terrain.org.au

Vanessa Drysdale at vanessa.drysdale@terrain.org.au