The annual average total suspended sediment load leaving Burdekin catchments reduced by 17.7 per cent between June 2009 and June 2016, according to the latest Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting program report.
The report states that the reduction was mainly from changes in grazing land management and they received an A rating on the report card for progress towards the sediment target.
Government, industry, researchers, scientists, natural resource managers and landholders attended a forum in Townsville last week to review the results.
NQ Dry Tropics’ LDC Land Management Support Coordinator Rodger Walker said while it was positive to see a reduction in sediment load leaving Burdekin catchments, the reduction needed to continue.
To this end, NQ Dry Tropics has implemented a Landholders Driving Change (LDC) project to tackle erosion and improve land management, productivity and Reef water quality in the Burdekin region.
The Bowen, Broken, Bogie (BBB) catchment near Bowen and Collinsville, which produces almost a quarter of the total fine sediment load that ends up on the Reef, is the priority area.
“The project provided opportunities for the grazing community to drive and influence the design of the project, right from the start,” Mr Walker said.
“As a result the BBB community is focused on implementing and evaluating a range of innovative tools and practices for enduring sustainable and productive land management practices to reduce sediment.
“Monitoring and evaluation is crucial to the credibility of the project.”
Mr Walker said encouraging graziers and other land managers to participate would give the BBB community ownership of the project.
NQ Dry Tropics Paddock to Reef officer Jade Fraser agreed and said Landholders Driving Change reflected targeted investment aimed at helping landholders make effective land management practice changes.
“Farmers are practical people. By putting farmers at the centre of the solution to yield results for the Great Barrier Reef and to improve farm production, nets long-term gains for both,” Mr Fraser said.
“NQ Dry Tropics and its delivery partners work hard to engage farmers’ interest in monitoring by working directly with farmers to trial and validate their farm management practices.
“Data is presented in a way that they can see the impact of their management planning and practices and can therefore better argue what is best practice for their farm.”
Landholders Driving Change is one of two Major Integrated Projects (MIPs) recommended by the great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce. The Queensland Government has committed a total of $33 million to fund both MIPs.