✦ Promotional and educational activities by Landcare Australia encourages and supports rapid adoption across farms
The Hastings region has a huge network of rivers, streams, wetlands and dams.
Hastings Landcare nurtures community connections, enhances the environment and supports sustainable agriculture.
Keeping our water quality and the biodiversity around our water systems healthy is vital for the community, environment and agriculture.
Many farmers and landholders in our region recognise the importance of caring for the natural assets on their properties such as bushland, wetlands and rivers. Landcare helps by providing site visits, information, resources and, on some occasions, grants to help landholders.
Australian farmers are continuing to adapt to a changing and challenging environment, taking into consideration seasonal variability and consumer and market-led demands. Landcarers have an important role in helping to share information on successful innovations, coming together and exchanging knowledge so that all can benefit from these new ideas that address farming challenges and land management.
Many Australian farmers recognise the importance of integrating biodiversity and sound environmental management into their production areas and Landcare groups are leading the way in many areas.
Let’s mess up rivers and slow down the water - Why?
By Dr Siwan Lovett, Australian River Restoration Centre
Why would you want to mess up rivers and slow down water? This is a question often asked by landholders when they’re thinking about becoming part of the Rivers of Carbon program. Rivers of Carbon focuses on boosting biodiversity, sequestering carbon, and empowering communities to act with confidence in response to climate change.
The program works with landholders and Landcare groups across the southern tablelands of New South Wales, and has projects in the Goulburn, Breadalbane, Upper Murrumbidgee and Yass regions.
So, why do we want to mess rivers up and slow them down? To answer this question, a broad range of perspectives is needed. The community was invited to hear what experts had to say. A workshop was organised, with a Traditional Owner, wildlife ecologist, river geomorphologist, social scientist, and landowner present to address this question.
What became immediately apparent is that ‘messy’ is better for wildlife, river health, carbon sequestration, biodiversity and recreation, yet often the policies and beliefs about what ‘good land management practices are’ has led to cleared paddocks, less wood and ‘litter’, straightened streams, and water flowing as quickly as possible.
The presenters explained how these activities reduce the complex habitat native wildlife needs to thrive, decreases water quality and bank stability, and impacts the ability to spend time along our rivers fishing and connecting with nature.
Perhaps the most compelling argument, however, is that recent research has shown that in the efforts to ‘neaten’ rivers it has drastically reduced their ability to capture carbon, as Geoscience Professor Ellen Wohl from Colorado State University explained: “Natural river systems are complex, ‘messy’ and retain water, nutrients and carbon. Modified river systems are simple, ‘neat’ and designed to keep water moving. These systems are carbon poor. It is estimated that modified river systems store less than 2% of the carbon they used to.”
Rivers need to be messy and have ‘room to move’ so that they can perform a range of functions, providing habitat and food for a wide range of animals, as well as having a range of flows and movement.
Disturbance and movement is really important for rivers, creeks and streams, as the beds of rivers need to ‘turn over’ so that the water is oxygenated, and pools and riffles are formed. Some fish only spawn in submerged trees and logs, so we need these structures in our rivers for this to happen.
The ‘Mess it up and slow it down’ workshop is on-line for anyone to access on the Rivers of Carbon website titled ‘a Great Gig in Goulburn”. For more information on Rivers of Carbon visit www.riversofcarbon.org.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02 6247 7997.
Hastings Landcare - Nature School adventures and beginners birdwatching
Hollows in the Hastings Project is creating more habitat (nest boxes and hollows) and creating community awareness of the significance of hollows, habitat and biodiversity.
Hastings Landcare spent the day with the Nature School on-site to share knowledge about habitat and hollows as well as monitor some of the recently installed nest boxes. A lot was learnt about grasses, bone structures of different animals, nest types, aboriginal cultural knowledge and much more!
During the monitoring nesting material was discovered and one of the boxes housed a sugar glider. It is always a delight to see the joy and excitement on people's faces when something is found in one of the nest boxes and hollows. It leaves a lasting effect on the importance of conserving native forests and how critical large habitat trees are for native wildlife and just why all should be conserved.
April saw the first Beginners Birdwatching Day. A day spent with a great bunch of lovely, like-minded people, all sharpened up on their birdwatching skills with an interactive talk by Hastings Birdwatcher’s Peter West. Knowledge about the Hollows in the Hastings Project that is creating habitat for vulnerable owl species and their prey was also shared. A bird walk and visit to some of the artificial hollows and nest boxes included monitoring of some of the nest boxes and hollows and the discovery of a number of sugar gliders was a delight to young and old!
These workshops are made possible due to the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery project supported by the Australian Government’s Bushfire Recovery Program for Wildlife and their Habitat.
Landcare helps by providing site visits, information, resources and on some occasions grants to help landholders.
Hastings Landcare Inc.
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