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28 May, 2021

Water cleaning project to benefit the Great Barrier Reef

Graziers from Ravenshoe to Ingham are part of a new $3.2 million project to clean up the water flowing down the Herbert River and out to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

An eroded gully in the Herbert River catchment that will be repaired as part of the new Upper Herbert Sediment Reduction Project.

Terrain NRM will work with landholders changing their grazing management practices in a project focused on reducing the amount of fine sediment in the Herbert River catchment’s waterways.

Terrain’s Jen Mackenzie said the team would also repair major gully and streambank erosion on two properties through rock chutes and pile fields, and would support a number of graziers to fence off waterways and install off-stream watering systems for cattle.

The Upper Herbert Sediment Reduction Project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

“We are really looking forward to this – we’ll also be working with the Mulloon Institute for the first time, helping landholders to prevent further erosion on their land, and with visiting grazing and soil health specialists who already work successfully with landholders in this region,” Ms Mackenzie said.

The new project will complement a Herbert Gully and Grazing Program that has been running for the past three years, funded by the Australian Government and delivered by Terrain NRM. The project has led to reductions in sediment loads through gully erosion remediation work and changes to grazing management practices.

“These projects are benefitting the land, the Reef and graziers with their soil health and natural grazing practices focus,’’ Ms Mackenzie said. “The engineered works – from rock chutes and bund walls to whoay boys on roads – are significant for sediment reduction. But it’s the changes to the way we manage the land that will lead to long-term and ongoing improvements.

“The new Upper Herbert Sediment Reduction Project will build on the success of our existing project and expand our reach of support for landholders in the Herbert catchment.”

Herbert River catchment extends 340km from the Herberton and Ravenshoe areas to the coastal region of Ingham. It is one of the three biggest contributors of sediment loads to the Great Barrier Reef. Sediment is one of the major materials affecting the health of the Reef.  Fine sediment smothers corals, seagrasses and other plants, also affecting turtles, dugongs, fish and other species that rely on them for food and shelter.

“The partnerships we develop with graziers help the Reef and waterways and, just as importantly, they help landholders to manage their properties more sustainably and improve long-term profitability,’’ Ms Mackenzie said. “So it’s a win-win situation.”

Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said the Foundation was looking forward to working with Terrain NRM to deliver an important regional water quality program.  

“A healthy Reef needs clean water, which is why improving water quality from land-based run-off is so important to the health of our global icon,” Ms Marsden said.  

“Terrain NRM has a strong track record of working with landholders and others in the local community who are committed to making a positive difference to Reef health and this program will build on some of the great initiatives underway and bring forward new on-ground activities proposed for the region.” 

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