Dr Scott Crawford, CEO, NQ Dry Tropics

Watching graziers, scientists and government staff work side by side to design solutions to improve land condition and water quality is exciting – and one of the groundbreaking aspects of the Landholders Driving Change project.

Graziers know their land best, and scientists have a wealth of knowledge around water quality and gully erosion. This pilot project has brought them together in a series of workshops, and both parties are clearly learning from each other and finding common ground. This is summed up by a grazier who recently commented: “Working with scientists has been good. They are just like us. We all want the same thing – we just use different words”.

Unlike many past programs, graziers are being fully involved from the beginning in the process of designing projects to improve their land and reduce sediment runoff.  What’s also new is that rather than targeting individual properties, we are looking at the bigger picture by focusing efforts at a catchment scale – in this instance the Bowen, Broken, Bogie (BBB) catchment near Collinsville. This means we can work with whole communities for better results.

We are now more than three months into the design phase, and I have been delighted by the way in which the local community has embraced this opportunity to do things in a different way.

Back in February we held some landholder workshops in Bowen, Collinsville and Inkerman that gave locals the chance to put forward their ideas on tackling gully erosion. More than half the properties in the BBB were represented – an amazing turnout – and the positive feedback strongly endorsed the idea of early community involvement.

NQ Dry Tropics is running this project along with a consortium of 17 partner organisations that has a wide range of farming and scientific expertise that we can draw upon when required. The project plan and costings will be complete in June, and if this gets the green light from the Queensland Government, we will begin a three-year, multi-million dollar implementation programme where we can put these ideas into action on the ground.

We aim to trial a range of landscape repair options, some of which could be brand new. The challenge is to ensure that whatever actions emerge reflect the wishes and needs of the communities that will be responsible for implementing them. By doing this in a targeted area we hope to help deliver enduring, sustainable land management improvements, and cleaner water going out to the Reef. Another challenge is to maximise engagement, not just within the grazing community but also among other important stakeholders such as local government and the mining industry.

Landholders Driving Change is piloting a new model of program delivery, which we at NQ Dry Tropics have been championing for a long time. If it works well, I would love to see it rolled out elsewhere in the state in future.

Scott is working alongside graziers, scientists and technical experts to design land condition and water quality improvement solutions in the BBB catchments near Collinsville, under the Queensland Government-funded Landholders Driving Change project.