Landcare plays an important role in facilitating farming innovation

Updated: Jun 11

✦ 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.

The Hastings region has a huge network of rivers, streams, wetlands and dams as featured in Brilliant-Online
The Hastings region has a huge network of rivers, streams, wetlands and dams

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.

Working with landholders to protect and restore Australia’s wetlands and waterways as featured in Brilliant-Online
Working with landholders to protect and restore Australia’s wetlands and waterways

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.