Protecting and enhancing natural environments within urban settings through revegetation and weed control
To date, a total of 7700 indigenous species have been planted over 4ha across 5 sites (Far Beach, Haliday Bay, Bucasia Beach, Sandfly Creek and Ball Bay). The focus of this revegetation is to improve and enhance the natural values of the area, ensure continued stabilisation of the dune systems and in conjunction with weed control activities improve opportunity for natural regeneration. In addition revegetation mitigates erosion, protecting the coastal buffer zone through dune stabilisation and encouragement of natural regeneration whilst also providing additional habitat for native wildlife.
Weeds change the natural diversity and balance of ecological communities. They have the ability to alter structure, species composition, fire frequency and abundance of native communities, and consequently impact aquatic ecosystems and water quality. Weed control has occurred over four public sites (Keeleys Road wetlands, Slade Point Reserve wetlands, Ball Bay Reserve and Seaforth Reserve) as a means to improve water quality and increase native habitat connectivity in areas that have been heavily impacted by urban coastal development.
Sites were chosen based upon: their impact by urban/development activities, their capacity to be treated effectively, their current trend of condition, their ecological value and their hydrological connectivity to the Great Barrier Reef. Significant weed species targeted include Hymenache (Weeds of Nat. Significance), Water Hyacinth (Class 3), Singapore Daisy and Broad-leaved Pepper Tree (Class 2).
Coastal reserve areas focused on for weed control included patches of critically endangered regional ecosystems (beach scrub (RE 8.2.2) and coastal grasslands (RE: 7.4.1)) as well as other significant vegetation communities. Improving habitat connectivity is vital in such ecosystems such as beach scrub as it provides essential habitat for the listed northern quoll (EPBC Act, endangered), rusty monitor (NCA Act, of concern), and coastal sheath tail bat (NCA Act, vulnerable). 401.2 ha of weed control was conducted at 5 coastal sites between Jan and June 2015.
Coastal vegetation plays a fundamental role in dune stabilisation and is easily damaged in high recreational usage beaches where pedestrian access is unrestricted. Coastal management plans written in partnership with Mackay Regional Council direct the prioritisation of access management projects within the region. Collaboration between Mackay Regional Council and Reef Catchments has allowed for the installation of numerous stairways, stair ladders and fence lines within coastal zones of Seaforth, Blacks Beach and Far Beach. Formalised access tracks will direct foot traffic towards permanent access points allowing previously disturbed native vegetation to regenerate on the dune systems. The condition of regenerating vegetation will be monitored over time to provide evidence of the effectiveness of these access management activities.