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Burdekin Major Integrated Project—Landholders driving change

From January to mid-2017, NQ Dry Tropics led the design of the Landholders Driving Change project focusing on the Bowen Broken Bogie (BBB) catchment in the Burdekin region, near Collinsville. Under the project, graziers and scientists came together over several workshops to design land condition and water quality improvement solutions that will protect both the graziers’ productive lands and the Great Barrier Reef. NQ Dry Tropics has been working with a consortium of 17 organisations to deliver the project. The project design was completed in July 2017.

Program design

The Landholders Driving Change project worked with graziers and scientists to design a program that met the needs of the BBB community.

Key components of the Landholders Driving Change project include:

  • Trialling solutions to remediate significant erosion features
  • Flexible and tailored support services to engage graziers in the Bowen, Broken, Bogie Catchment
  • Exploring incentives and policy options to support graziers to manage sustainably for long term results
  • Engaging with other land managers to deliver collaborative solutions

Monitoring and evaluation

The Landholders Driving Change project has developed a Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy to support the program design. This strategy outlines how activities will be monitored to evaluate improvements in stewardship, land management and local water quality and inform adaptive management throughout the implementation stage. Funds have been set aside to set monitoring and evaluation for the project.

Grazier meetings

During a series of four grazier meetings held in February 2017, 63 graziers, mostly from the BBB catchments came up with potential solutions to issues such as gully erosion.

Attendees had the opportunity to better understand the science behind sediment run-off and provide input into project design from the beginning.

Graziers shared a range of ideas around improving land condition, focusing on productivity, profitability and water quality outcomes. There was general consensus that more work needs to be done to manage erosion and rehabilitate gullies and bare soil to improve land condition. Participants were keen for any works to be well planned and prioritised, and delivered by experienced and skilled staff and contractors. Value for money was seen as important, and there was an expectation that graziers may need to contribute financially.

The meetings generated a wide range of ideas, such as:

  • Working with other land managers, such as mines, councils and utilities to address current land management and potentially remediate gullies on non-grazing land.
  • Forming a technically-skilled implementation team to develop individual project plans, supervise and/or undertake work if required, or provide access to equipment and “approved” contractors.
  • Undertaking a wide range of on-ground activities such as gully remediation, better pasture management to retain ground cover, infrastructure to support remediation and grazing management activities, controlling vegetation/weed species which reduce grass cover, and managing the immediate contributing catchment areas of gully systems.
  • Ensuring proper monitoring across the overall program as well as individual projects so that landholders can see if the projects they are involved with are working.
  • Innovative project funding arrangements, including co-contributions by landholders, taxation and tax incentives, incentive payments, assistance with foregone future income, and financial compensation for moving livestock to agistment.
  • Training, learning and information opportunities to support graziers to improve their financial, environmental, business, IT and technical skills and knowledge. A promotional program was also suggested to assist graziers to get involved, telling positive stories and reporting on project successes. Peer to peer relationships/support and mentoring was seen as an important opportunity to change attitudes and exchange technical and best practice information.
  • A gully prioritisation process to ensure the most active, contributing gullies were addressed.
  • Reviewing legislation, particularly around tree clearing guidelines. Participants spoke about the difficulties they face clearing weeds in intact vegetation. Some graziers also expressed concerns that other bodies such as Councils, mines, and utilities do not appear to be subject to the same requirements as they are.

Workshops

NQ Dry Tropics then held a series of workshops between March and June to prioritise, consolidate and refine their proposals with the BBB landholders and consortium members for this project. The project team re-worked their workshop schedule to ensure that graziers who were impacted by Tropical Cyclone Debbie in late March didn’t miss out on opportunities to be involved in the design process.

Next steps

On-ground implementation of the program design activities is now beginning. An evaluation of the progress of the implementation is expected in February 2018.

More information

More information about the Landholders Driving Change project is available at NQ Dry Tropics or by contacting info@nqdrytropics.com.au.