October 22, 2018
A weed-choked haven for feral pigs has been transformed into wetlands supporting native plants, animals and the Great Barrier Reef.
Ingham farmers Sam and Santo Lamari described a 40ha patch of swampland on their property as “an absolute disaster” until a group of organisations secured funding and invested more than $90,000 in its restoration.
The Insulator Creek Wetlands transformation is now being held up as a prototype for wetland restoration, with a new video explaining the three-year process and how to get results.
Terrain NRM’s Jacqui Diggins described the land’s recovery as incredible in the timeframe. She said the community had rallied together for the project, which was funded through a Queensland Government “Everyone’s Environment” grant.
“We began with 40ha between Crystal Creek and Forrest Beach that was overgrown with olive hymenachne and paragrass, and degraded by feral pigs but was considered a priority wetland area,’’ she said.
“We needed to bring back native species to out-compete the exotics so the area could be sustainable into the future. We did this with a burn and spray method, using grass-selective herbicides, and continued the process until rushes and reeds gradually displaced invasive weeds.
“Three hundred sedges, reeds and rushes have also been planted. Although ongoing management is needed, the wetland is well on the its way to being dominated by native species.
“The area has become a classroom for school students, a venue for farmer field trips and a project site for scientists, with regular flora and fauna monitoring.”
Mrs Diggins said the former Hinchinbrook Wetlands Alliance, landholders, Nywaigi traditional owners, James Cook University researchers, Herbert River Catchment and Landcare members, Terrain NRM, Paluma Environmental Education Centre and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries had all been part of the project.
“The wetlands are now home to mahogany gliders, native birds and fish and weeping paperbarks,’’ she said. “They connect with Halifax Bay Wetlands National Park and they’re a filter for nutrients, pesticides and sediments, improving water quality flowing to the Great Barrier Reef.”
Sam Lamari said the three-year project had been a learning experience.
“The birdlife and plant life is back – there is nothing better than seeing this area gradually returning to its natural state,’’ he said.