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Soils

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Reduction in soil erosion on mitigated sites makes a substantial difference to water quality on the Reef The World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef is the planet’s greatest living wonder.

The Communities and coastal habitats of eastern Cape York will benefit from the Australian Government’s Reef Trust funded, Catchments to Coral program. Running from 2021–2023, the project will invest in a broad range of activities that focus on improving the health and resilience of eastern Cape York catchments and coastal ecosystems.

Producers on the Cape are developing peer relationships as they work together to cultivate advanced farming methods.

Greater engagement amongst the producers on Cape York has been facilitated by Cape York NRM’s Regional Extension Officer, Oliver McConnachie, under the Queensland Government’s Enhanced Extension Coordination in Reef Catchments project.

‘The guiding principle of the project is that practice change is not to do with land—it’s to do with people. By focusing on the people, positive change in land management is being achieved,’ Oliver said.

Working to reduce sediment loss from Country.

Three large projects to repair riverbank sites severely damaged by the 2019 monsoon trough will commence on the Endeavour River at the beginning of the 2021 dry season.

Rehabilitation of the sites will be aided by the use of proven techniques such as bank battering, rock armouring, and revegetation with appropriate riparian plants.

One large river bend located at Scrubby Creek will be rehabilitated using lines of timber piles vertically driven into the reshaped bank to reduce the velocity of water as it moves around the bend.

Cape York NRM’s Community Action Plan (CAP) team will soon be heading to three communities in the south-east Cape to run workshops to develop the Cape York CAP.

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation will compile input from six Queensland regions to create the state’s overall Plan that will identify shared goals for community Reef protection.

Cape York NRM’s Healthy Farming Futures project is working closely with Cape York’s pastoralists to help their businesses become more sustainable.

Co-led by Cape York NRM’s Regional Agriculture Land Facilitator Andrew Hartwig, the project sees graziers in western flowing catchments in Central Cape York increase the amount of ground cover on their properties to help reduce erosion, sediment run-off and improve water quality in the Gulf.

It also provides a pathway towards business sustainability.

Words Abbey Ernst and Robyn May | Photo Kerry Trapnell 

Abbey Ernst started work as Cape York NRM’s Sustainable Industries Officer in December 2018. She will work on the Queensland Government’s Paddock to Reef project, and the Federal Government’s Healthy Farming Futures project.

Ninda Creek is a 3567 hectare grazing property near Lakeland in southern Cape York, owned by Peter and Annette Marriott.

Some great things have been happening on the land in Cape York during 2019–2020. Projects continued to roll out across the Cape despite the disruption of COVID-19 border closures and travel restrictions.

Cape York NRM’s Sustainable Agriculture and Water Quality team supports Cape York people to enhance agricultural practices and improve the quality of fresh and marine water. The team and its partners have worked across a variety of projects during 2019–2020 including hazard reduction burns, gully remediation and streambank stabilisation.

Cape York NRM’s Healthy Farming Futures project is supporting a Cape York Wildlife Sanctuary which has so far received over 2,500 mm of rain this wet season, to stabilise the landscape to protect critical habitat.

Words and photo Robyn May

Abbey started work as Cape York NRM’s Sustainable Industries Officer in December 2018 after graduating with an Environmental Management degree specialising in Coastal and Marine Environments.

As Sustainable Industries Officer, Abbey’s work is focused on encouraging the adoption of best management practices with agricultural and grazing land managers.

Gully remediation works are plowing ahead across the Normanby catchment through the Reef Trust IV Program.

The day’s task is to push a lot of dirt around. The end result, however, will be a complete transformation of the landscape.

At Beefwood Park, a 102-hectare property 20 kilometres west of Lakeland, Cape York NRM has supported the land manager’s challenge of turning an eroding mass of gullies into a productive landscape.

Why? To restore the country to a healthy condition, to further the owner’s land management skills, and to keep the soil where it is supposed to be—on the land and not muddying up waterways.

Words Juliana Foxlee | Photo Andrew Brooks

Cape York NRM and Northern Gulf Resource Management Group are working with graziers in the Mitchell catchment to help them develop their knowledge of native vegetation management in a bid to reduce erosion. 

Cape York NRM Acting Principal Program Manager Michael Goddard is managing the project. 

It’s been an eventful month of property visits as part of the Grazing Resilience and Sustainable Solutions (GRASS) program.

Welcome to our first newsletter for 2021. Some people will be glad to see the back of 2020, but there were many good things to come out of the previous 12 months. During 2020 Cape York NRM was able to restructure its operations and program support so that we are able to deliver the best on ground projects possible and we have an incredibly busy year planned for 2021. We welcome four new staff to the team and the Cooktown office is now bursting at the seams.

Recently, grade 12 student Ella Hartwig took on a volunteer position with Cape York NRM to help deliver a coordinated burn project on Cape York. Here’s her record of her experience. Ella’s dad Andrew, known to us all as Andy, is Cape York NRM’s Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator (RALF). Andy coordinated the multi-property early burning program in partnership with South Cape York Catchments and Cape York Weeds and Feral Animals Inc.

Words Abbey Ernst and Robyn May | Photo Robyn May

2019 marks a decade of successful operation for the Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program (Paddock to Reef program). 

It is through the Paddock to Reef program that Cape York NRM has effectively continued its work with landholders in the Normanby catchment of the Great Barrier Reef.  

Reef Water Quality Report Card shows encouraging progress towards achieving the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan targets.