Waterways, Wetlands and Coasts

We work with a range of partners to ensure waterways, wetlands and coastal areas in our region are resilient, healthy, sustainably managed, and enjoyed and respected by communities.

Our coastal waterways support industries such as fishing and tourism, provide food and habitat for marine and terrestrial life; and contribute to improved water quality by filtering nutrients and chemicals from runoff. When these habitats are in poor condition, it directly impacts the survival, growth and ability to breed of many species that live and migrate in the coastal zone, and the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

Our Waterways, Wetlands and Coasts program:

  • works with government, industries, community groups and land managers to deliver projects that protect, conserve and rehabilitate coastal ecosystems;
  • supports the community to deliver projects, learn skills, access grants, and better understand how farming practices impact wetlands; and
  • monitors how land use changes affect water quality.

Our work focuses on  the following themes:

  • Connectivity between land, waterways, wetlands, coasts, and the Great Barrier Reef
  • Fish passage
  • Water quality
  • Wetland seasonality (for example, helping to ensure they dry down naturally during the dry season)
  • Riparian vegetation

Media Posts

Focus on Lower Burdekin wetlands for World Wetlands Day

Spotlight on outstanding Lower Burdekin wetlands.   World Wetlands Day on Saturday 2 February is a time to celebrate the importance of wetlands for our people and planet, as well as their natural beauty. Wetlands are home to a dazzling array of native wildlife,...

Cane growers and scientists share knowledge at Lilliesmere Lagoon

Water quality scientists from James Cook University (JCU) headed down to Ayr last week to chat with local cane growers about fish health and water quality at Lilliesmere Lagoon. Principal Research Scientist Dr Nathan Waltham, and Scientist Dr Christina Buelow, both...

Benefits of automated irrigation flows for farmers and the reef

ALMOST 30 Burdekin district cane farmers explored the benefits of automating their irrigation schedule at a workshop conducted by NQ Dry Tropics on Russell Jordan’s Upper Haughton River farm recently. At the workshop, NQ Dry Tropics Project Officer Lisa Pulman...

Community groups empowered to protect environment

A long-term project wraps up this month having supported 42 regional community groups to protect endangered wildlife, regenerate native bushland, and tackle marine debris. NQ Dry Tropics’ Engaging and Strengthening Communities project, funded through the Australian...

Removing barriers the key to healthy fish stocks

Many of our native fish species need to migrate between freshwater and the ocean to breed. But stocks of local favourites such as barramundi and mangrove jack plummet if juveniles fail to make it past the many barriers they face on their journey, such as dams, weirs...

Cane farmers and scientists focus on water quality during AIMS visit

A visit to the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) last week gave a group of Burdekin cane farmers an opportunity to learn more about the science behind water quality research. The NQ Dry Tropics event, designed to help foster a better understanding between...

Fish numbers up as weed control improves Burdekin waterway

Latest monitoring results show that ongoing work to improve the health of Sheepstation Creek, near Ayr, is improving native fish populations. Since 2013 NQ Dry Tropics has worked with Burdekin Shire Council, Lower Burdekin Water and local landowners to remove weeds,...

Reef Conservation Award

Burdekin farmers Gary and Angela Spotswood, of Mt Alma Fresh Organics, at Inkerman, has claimed the coveted Reef Conservation Award at the 2017 Reef Alliance Awards, held in Townsville on 22 November. The Reef Alliance awards recognise the work of farmers who are...

Burdekin weed control trial

Burdekin weed control trial could boost farming productivity. NQ Dry Tropics and Evolution Mining have partnered on an innovative pilot project in the Lower Burdekin that could use harvested aquatic weeds to improve local agricultural soils. Evolution Mining has...

Community groups share $70,000

Community groups share $70,000 funding for environmental projects Community groups in the Burdekin Dry Tropics region will share almost $70,000 to deliver a range of local on-ground environmental projects under the 2017-2018 NQ Dry Tropics Community Landcare Grants...

Waterways, Wetlands and Coasts Current Projects

Connecting Burdekin Cane Farmers to their local wetlands (2016-2019)

NQ Dry Tropics is working with our project partner Burdekin Bowen Integrated Floodplain Management Advisory Committee Inc. (BBIFMAC) to combine on-farm water quality and quantity monitoring and extension with wetland monitoring. The project aims to improve the health of the lagoons while improving cane farmers’ productivity and profit.

It is based at two demonstration sites, Horseshoe Lagoon, in the Burdekin River Irrigation Area and Lilliesmere Lagoon, in the Burdekin Delta Area. Both sites are downstream of cane farms and upstream of the internationally-renowned wetlands of Bowling Green Bay, and the Great Barrier Reef.  

Read more about this project….

Reducing Fine Sediment By Maintaining and Restoring Burdekin Stream Banks and Coastal Wetlands (2018-2022)

The Burdekin catchment is the largest contributor of fine sediment to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Much of this is caused by erosion from grazing lands and stream banks entering the Burdekin River, where it is either deposited in the channel, on the floodplain, or transported out to sea. Fine sediment is a problem because it makes water turbid, reducing the amount of light that seagrasses and corals need to grow and thrive.

This project aims to reduce the impacts of fine sediment on water quality from the Burdekin catchment.

Read more about this project…..

Waterways, Wetlands and Coasts Completed Projects

Restoring Burdekin Coastal Ecosystems for the Great Barrier Reef and Ramsar 2014-2018

The project was a collaboration between NQ Dry TropicsLower Burdekin Water and the Burdekin Shire Council to strategically restore ecological function to priority wetlands and waterways within the operational area of Lower Burdekin Water. The long term objective was to reinstate natural seasonality of the water flow, or occasionally ‘dry’ wetlands out, to control invasive weed species.

Read more about this project…..

Improving Coastal Wetland Ecosystems Through Improved Understanding of Best Irrigation Management Practice in the Lower Burdekin. (Landscape Resilience 2017-2018)

This Landscape Resilience project built on the successes of previous Landscape Resilience projects (2013-2016 and 2016-2017).

Since 2013, these projects have provided 69 cane farmers in the Lower Burdekin with individualised, real-time irrigation runoff data, which can support them to improve their farming practices.

Read more about this project…..

Engaging and Strengthening Communities 2014-2018

This project successfully worked with community groups and individuals to increase their participation in natural resource management (NRM) activities. A tailored strengthening project built skills, enhanced knowledge and increased voluntary activity in the community, including among Indigenous people, women, and young people within our region. A Community Landcare Grants program worth a total of $460,000 supported community groups to deliver 52 projects that restored a combined 448ha of native vegetation, removed weeds from 510ha of bushland, and removed more than eight tonnes of marine debris across 390ha.

Read more about this project…..

Restoring seasonality for landscape resilience in the important sugar production area of the Lower Burdekin Delta (Landscape Resilience 2013-2016)

The now completed Landscape Resilience project (2013-2016), funded through the Queensland government, aimed to take the message to growers in the region that the wetlands are in trouble and there’s something we can do to fix them. Many people in the region see the prosperity that irrigation water from the Burdekin Falls Dam has brought and see the extra water in the wetlands all year round as a good thing; wetlands need water, so the more water the better. It seems like common sense. Problems caused by this year-round supply of water, however, can be seen in wetlands across the Burdekin.

Read more about this project…..

Improving Coastal Wetland Ecosystems Through Improved Understanding of Best Irrigation Management Practice in the Lower Burdekin (Landscape Resilience 2016-2017)

Improving Coastal Wetland Ecosystems Through Improved Understanding of Best Irrigation Management Practice in the Lower Burdekin (Landscape Resilience) built on the success of the previous Landscape Resilience project (2013-2016), which supported 65 cane farmers with information on their water and nutrient use, and the connection between their farms and local wetlands.

The project was centered around Horseshoe Lagoon. NQ Dry Tropics continued to work with our project partner, Burdekin Bowen Integrated Floodplain Management Advisory Committee Inc. (BBIFMAC), along with cane farmers, SunWater and Burdekin Shire Council.

Read more about this project…..

Community Landcare Grants 2016/2017

NQ Dry Tropics provided over $100,000 in 2016-2017 for community groups in the Burdekin Dry Tropics region to deliver on ground works that protect and rehabilitate priority natural areas. NQ Dry Tropics managed these grants, which were funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

Read more about this project…..

World Wetland Day – February 2nd

World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally each year on 2 February. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971.

Laura Dunstan and Scott Fry from our Waterways, Wetlands and Coasts team are members of the Lower Burdekin Wetland Steering Committee, which produced this great short film about the Papale family in the Lower Burdekin. The Papales turned an unproductive area of their cane farm into a thriving wetland, and they believe that farming systems and the environment can live hand in hand.

The film was funded by the Queensland Wetlands Program and produced in conjunction with Dr Ian McLeod, Senior Research Scientist at TropWater, James Cook University.

For more information on the film or the Lower Burdekin Wetland Steering Committee, please contact Terri Buono, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, on 3330 4509 or Email: terri.buono@daf.qld.gov.au