New Focus To Cut Soil Erosion And Improve Fitzroy Reef Water Quality

New Focus To Cut Soil Erosion And Improve Fitzroy Reef Water Quality

Queensland Minister for Environment Steven Miles

New Project In The Fitzroy Basin To Help Farmers And Preserve The Great Barrier Reef

Victor P Taffa

After focusing on gullies in the Burdekin, Palaszczuk Government scientists will turn their attention to the Fitzroy Reef catchment under a new program to cut soil erosion and improve the water quality of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

Environment Minister Dr. Steven Miles said the mapping project was part of an investment of nearly $12 Million by the Queensland Government putting science at the heart of efforts to save the iconic reef.

“Gully erosion and its impact on productivity is one of the greatest challenges facing graziers and it’s also one of the biggest causes of sediment entering the Great Barrier Reef.” Dr. Miles said.

“Gullies tend to form in areas which erode easily. Reduced pasture cover on fragile soils is one of the things that can contribute to erosion.”

“Large amounts of productive soil from grazing land are being lost through gully erosion. And that soil ends up in reef waters blocking light and degrading water quality, both of which reduce the resilience of coral and sea grass.” Dr. Miles said.

Soils vulnerable to erosion are being mapped by the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (DSITI) in the Fitzroy through the Reef Water Quality Science program to identify the most vulnerable areas to soil loss and sediment run-off to waterways.

“This work is critical. A recent analysis estimated that fixing all the gullies that have already been created in the Fitzroy alone would cost around $5.6 Billion.” Dr. Miles said.

“We must stop the problem from getting worse. These maps will help the program managers and research scientists determine remediation priorities to achieve the biggest water quality improvements for the Reef.”

“The mapping has already been put to good use in the Burdekin catchment, where the project team used remote sensing and field surveys to map gully locations.”

“They also used sophisticated three-dimensional mapping to provide a detailed account of the rate of change in gullies due to different climate events.” Dr. Miles said.

The mapping will complement a project being undertaken by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines in the Fitzroy.

Dr. Miles stressed “multiple strategies” were required to prevent, mitigate and manage erosion from gullies and streambanks.

“Tree clearing in environmentally-sensitive areas of our reef is continuing at disturbingly high levels.” Dr. Miles said.

“The clearing of woody vegetation in the GBR catchments has increased by 46 % since 2011-2012, and that is why this Government sought to introduce laws to reinstate vegetation protection measures stripped away by the former Newman Government.”

“We continue to support the grazing industry with their Best Management Practice program and extension programs as well as invest in science and innovation to ensure sustainable management of grazing lands.” Dr. Miles said.

“Innovative restoration approaches and gully remediation will also be funded under the Queensland Government’s Great Barrier Reef Innovation Fund to look at better and more cost effective techniques.”

“Through investments by the Queensland and Federal Governments and its partners, we are delivering valuable, knowledge-based, practical tools and information for landholders and advisors.” Dr. Miles said.