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Author Topic: Glenelg River landowners key to milestone  (Read 3784 times)

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Glenelg River landowners key to milestone
« on: December 14, 2011, 09:12:02 AM »
Landholders along the Glenelg River have played a significant role in the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority's achievement of 1000km of fencing protecting waterways - a standout achievement in Victoria.

"This would have to be one of the most ambitious fencing projects in Victoria," according to Glenelg Hopkins CMA's Waterway and Catchment Health Program Manager Adam Bester.

"And the improvements to water quality and biodiversity have been matched with improved farm management practices along with social and economic benefits," Mr Bester said.

"This great milestone has been made possible through State and Federal government funding and the landholders who have worked in partnership with Glenelg Hopkins CMA, particularly those along the Glenelg River between Casterton and Rocklands in recent years."

Most of the riparian fencing has taken place along the Glenelg River, which is the largest and most significant waterway in the Glenelg Hopkins region and boasts some of Victoria's best river reaches.

Glenelg Hopkins CMA is currently seven years into an eight-year Large Scale River Restoration (LSRR) project to address some of the major threats to the health of the Glenelg River, most notably, severe erosion and sedimentation, Mr Bester said.

"The CMA's ‘Revitilising the River: Restoring Health to the Glenelg River' project has contributed to almost a half of the 1000km achievement."

According to CMA Project Coordinator Robert Addinsall, the response from landholders to the project far exceeded expectations and farmers were taking up the fencing proposals with enthusiasm, with the Dergholm project well underway and the next stage due to start around Wando Vale early in 2012.

The CMA introduced the Waterway Action Plan process as part of the LSRR and it's a process that has proved popular with landholders and effective in achieving significant environmental benefits.

Mr Addinsall said direct contact with landholders and engagement through the field assessment done on all the rivers, creeks and tributaries in the WAP areas, plus higher financial incentives for fencing and off-stream watering points, was so successful, other CMAs were asking for the recipe.

The prolonged drought conditions in recent years also helped people realise the importance and value to their livelihoods of protecting waterways and quality of water.

Grant Little, who manages Nareen and Barrama, has participated in the riparian fencing project.

He has found that not only does it improve the way the property looks, there are positive management outcomes as well.

"Aesthetically it looks a hell of a lot nicer. When you first plant the seedlings after fencing, you think, oh it looks all right, but not much. But even if that year is tough, trees are pretty resilient and if you get the preparation right, in 18 months things start to really look good.

In addition to that, Mr Little agrees that ease of management is a huge bonus in fencing waterways.

"It also supports Occupational Health and Safety issues because employees no longer have to chase stock along or through waterways or down steep gullies," he said.

Mr Bester said with the success of the WAPs, particularly the direct engagement and community meetings, more farmers were looking to participate, so demand was growing.

As part of the process, landholders were given maps and surveys of their farm highlighting work that needed to be done and also the bigger picture of how everything connected to properties and waterways around them.

Mr Addinsall said it was not just bigger creeks and rivers that needed attention, but the smaller tributaries that fed those waterways. If they were eroding or had stock walking along and through them making them dirty, this washed into the creeks and then the river, lowering water quality and depositing sediment.

With the waterway and botany surveys done by CMA staff of all waterways across properties within a WAP area, landholders were able to get a good idea of how important management of their ‘insignificant little trickle' was to the health every other waterway downstream.

As more landholders hear about the benefits to their productivity and farm sustainability and incentives of doing the waterway fencing, the 1000km achieved thus far, will accelerate.

The next 1000 could only be a couple of years away.

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