Habitat restoration reduces agricultural runoff in the Richmond River watershed

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It takes a lot of hard work to recover from a D-minus newsletter, but that’s what the Richmond River watershed’s goal was after receiving the UNE Eco-Health rating in 2015.

Over the past three years, 34 farmers on the Alstonville Plateau have reduced sediment and nutrient runoff into the Richmond River by restoring habitat, fencing stocks and repairing bank erosion.

Shaun Morris of North Coast Local Land Services said his $ 4.25 million Marine Estate Management Strategy project has prevented at least 2,800 tonnes of runoff.

Shaun Morris, Senior Land Services Officer.(

Provided: Local North Coast Land Services

)

More than 100 “snag hotels” have been installed as part of the 2.4 kilometers of bank stabilization work preventing 1,300 tonnes of sediment runoff.

“We are essentially mimicking a natural ice jam that would normally occur as a result as a simple natural river function, but we have spaced them out and placed them on the bank in a way that dissipates the energy from the waves of the boat as it builds up. present. the bank, ”he said.

“With this dissipation of energy, we are able to develop these small micro-habitats that benefit a range of aquatic animals.”

An additional 1,500 tonnes of runoff was prevented by the Ballina Shire Council, blocking 11 kilometers of road.

“We have roads along Emigrant Creek and as part of the estuary which provides a large amount of important aquatic habitat for desirable fish species for both recreational and commercial purposes,” Morris said.

Log nets protecting the mangrove nursery on a river bank.
Log nets protect a newly formed mangrove nursery from the waves of boats.(

Provided: Local North Coast Land Services

)

Farmers restore 38 km of riparian habitat

Most of the riparian work on macadamia and beef farms focused on bush regeneration, Morris said.

“We are also doing very concentrated interception plantings using species like lomandra to help capture this land flow of sediment and nutrients and stop it before it has a chance to hit the river.”

The regeneration team begins riparian planting by first drilling holes in the soil.
The team undertakes riparian planting along Pearces Creek.(

Provided: Local North Coast Land Services

)

Work on the macadamia farm that Mick Bell oversees in Teven has included moving the entrance road 10 meters from the river, restoring two kilometers of shoreline, and installing fish hotels.

“I was starting to worry a bit about the erosion under the laurel camphor trees and the lack of mangroves and fish habitat along the river … and our entrance road, the river right next to it, it there was no buffer zone, there was no riparian zone, there was nothing, “he said.

“When the floods come, there’s not much to hold him back.”

While it may take time to clarify how the work has improved water quality, Bell is already seeing a difference.

“Just seeing how many mangrove seeds we caught on the bank, how much life it has brought to the fish in the few months since they completed the first stage, I think they’re on. the right path. “


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