Posted by Siwan Lovett | November 14, 2013
We are nearing completion of this project and have achieved all of our objectives. This project has been a pleasure to work on and we are delighted with the progress that has been made. We have also been overwhelmed by the positive response the Rivers of Carbon project and approach is attracting in our local community. Highlights for River of Carbon – Southern Riparian Linkages include:
- 72 sites, 887.6 ha and 123.3 km stream fenced (target met of 120 kms)
- Rapid Appraisal of Riparian Condition and site assessment conducted on all Rivers of Carbon sites
- Linking of Rivers of Carbon data with Boorowa River Recovery data (to enable analysis of 20 years of riparian rehabilitation data to be reviewed)
- Production of the Edition 37 RipRap Magazine on ‘Rivers of Carbon – Rivers of Life’
- Presentations at the 18th International Riversymposium, Australian Stream Management Conference 2016, National Landcare Conference 2016 and numerous other events.
- Upload of five Rivers of Carbon stories to the Riverspace website – www.riverspace.com.au
- Fish surveys telling a positive story about the link between riparian habitat and instream health.
- Production of RipRoc story telling platform
- Installation of a rock wall in Blakney Creek to protect Southern Pygmy Perch from alien fish
All of our Rivers of Carbon projects use the same model of focusing on sites with high recovery potential for biodiversity and carbon sequestration, as well as connecting riparian areas so that we have contiguous corridors of vegetation along streams. The co-investment approach we are using provides testimony to the success of the Rivers of Carbon model. The biggest challenge for Rivers of Carbon at the moment is the increasing demand and keeping up with requests!
In the photo below you will see one of our sites along Jeir Creek (that flows into the Murrumbidgee) that we are excited about, as the landholder has fenced back at least 25 metres to create a riparian corridor. This site has high recovery potential and links to previous work upstream and downstream – we are filling in gaps to connect the creek and create a continuous riparian corridor.
We have a mix of riparian and wetland sites, with a few of these linking to remnant grassy box woodland or shrubby forest. We also have some gully erosion sites that we are stabilising to prevent sediment travelling into the river. We are categorising our sites according to three Themes:
Theme 1: Biodiverse plantings
Theme 2: Recruitment and regeneration of native vegetation
Theme 3: Managing invasive species
Prior to work commencing, each site is thoroughly assessed for its recovery potential, its habitat significance, riparian linkages, cost effectiveness in terms of outcomes, and carbon sequestration opportunities. We also ensure that we collaborate with the relevant local Natural Resources Management agency to assess the priority of the site in-line with their Catchment Action Plan.
All of our sites have had a Rapid Appraisal of Riparian Condition Assessment undertaken to provide baseline information against which we can track progress against over the life of the project. These assessments are now being redone as we move into the last six months of our work. We also record other details to complement the Rapid Appraisal of Riparian Condition assessment, for example, stream type, stream class and bank profile. We have a webpage focusing on our monitoring and evaluation approach as we feel it is vital we track before and after riparian rehabilitation works are undertaken.
Once we have planned the works to be undertaken on site with the landowner, we prepare individual species lists for each site based on pre-1750’s vegetation (GIS mapped) and any remnants that are on site. Plants are also chosen with regard to their position in the landscape and moisture availability. Planting tubestock is a key part of the Rivers of Carbon project, as many sites cannot be direct seeded due to high fertility, grass competition and accessibility.
Seed propagation of plants for is ongoing, and is part of Greening Australia’s broader effort to grow 100 000 known provenance plants in association with the seed collection program (undertaken over December/January) for all projects. Riparian community species are part of the species mix, and are being grown specifically for Rivers of Carbon. Seed for growing tubestock is sourced from local provenances and each plant grown can be traced back to the origin of the seed. Tubestock and seedstock are chosen based on the specifics of each site.
In a recent review of past restoration sites we have recorded some recruitment of native vegetation to fenced sites – with regeneration of Eucalypts, and significant regeneration of native grasses in sites that still retained these remnants. In many of our Theme 1 sites (Biodiverse Plantings) however, pasture grasses dominate, and fertility is high. This limits the ability and speed at which native vegetation is recruited. These sites are mostly being planted using tubestock.
Theme 2 (protecting and enhancing native vegetation) sites have a higher level of natural regeneration overall compared with Theme 1 sites as there is vegetation remaining on site. These sites also tend to be native pastures, rather than exotic pastures, and this makes it easier for regeneration to occur. We have found that regeneration of native grasses is significant depending on the level of disturbance, once fenced out bare ground is very quickly colonised. Overstorey and mid storey regeneration is starting to occur at some sites, however, this process can take some time. A number of sites still require mid story to be reinstated.
Our Theme 3 (managing invasive species) sites are mainly focusing on Crack Willow, as this is the main willow species to be targeted in the Rivers of Carbon project area. Willows are a particular problem in smaller streams where they invade the entire stream causing erosion of banks and stream widening. They also reduce diversity of habitat for macro-invertebrates and use a considerable amount of water. Any willow control being undertaken will be in conjunction with rehabilitation of habitat and associated fencing and revegetation as an imperative. Funding available for willow control is limited. Control will involve stem injection with Glyphosate at some sites, while other sites will require an excavator with specialised attachment (log grab, saw, rake and sprayer). The most appropriate option depend on cost, safety and specific site requirements (in terms of ongoing management). These methods have proved successful in the Rivers of Carbon project area in the past.
We are continuing our work with the Southern Pygmy Perch and the community that is established in the Pudman is still there and breeding. This is brilliant, as the Southern Pygmy Perch is endangered and had been wiped out in many other NSW streams. We have recently installed a rock wall on Blakney Creek to protect the Southern Pygmy Perch from invasion by Redfin and European Carp – you can read more on that story here.
To get a more detailed understanding of the work we are doing, here are four stories from landholders who are part of the Rivers of Carbon team:
- Allan Munns,’Suffolk Vale’
- Margie Fitzpatrick, ‘Australind’
- McCormack Family, ‘Red Hill’& ‘Mt Henry’
- Jane and David Major, ‘Yurrah’
In addition, we have a range of River of Carbon products designed to assist people who want to learn more about riparian rehabilitation. All of these are in the resources section of our site and you might also want to read about the theory and practice behind our project on our ‘What is a river of carbon’ page. The RipRoc story telling site is also a great way to keep up to date with what we are doing. As we come to the end of this project we are delighted our work will be continuing with ongoing investment in the model from other government agencies… more on this soon!