Erosion is a big issue in the Dry Tropics of North Queensland. It causes valuable topsoil primarily from grazing lands to wash downstream, carrying fine sediment particles that reduce the amount of light needed by coral reefs and seagrass to grow and thrive.

NQ Dry Tropics’ Landholders Driving Change project aims to tackle erosion and improve land management, productivity and Reef water quality in the Burdekin region – and graziers have been helping to design solutions.

NQ Dry Tropics CEO Dr Scott Crawford said that Landholders Driving Change is focused on the high-priority 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.

“This project will deliver a flexible program of activities designed by local graziers and tailored to their needs,” Dr Crawford said.

“From the very start, we asked local graziers to get involved and put forward ideas about how to keep soil on the land and improve productivity.

“This project combines graziers’ knowledge with the latest scientific research. It will trial and develop solutions designed to remove the social, financial and technical barriers to practice change.

“These could include supporting graziers with extension and training, land rehabilitation, investigating incentives, and looking at ways to link landholders with policy makers to cut down on red tape.

“And because erosion isn’t just an issue for graziers, this project aims to involve all land managers in the BBB, including mines, utilities and government departments.

“For the first time, a project at this scale aims to work with a whole community to achieve long-term economic, social and environmental benefits.

“The Queensland Government officially approved the project plan at the end of August 2017, and since then we have been working hard to put in place the resources and support necessary to roll out the project over the next three years. This includes establishing an implementation team, with key staff located in our Bowen office.

“Our team will be visiting properties in the catchment this month to determine exactly how this project can support graziers to improve long-term land management and productivity’” Dr Crawford said.

The project will also boost the local economy over the next few years by providing opportunities for locals to deliver services such as hiring and operating earthmoving machinery; land repair and environmental improvement; and farm based professional support.

Main photo: Landholders Driving Change project manager Andrew Yates, senior grazing support officer Brendan Smith and land manager support coordinator Rodger Walker.