Riparian Revegetation – why do it?
The riparian area is the part of the landscape adjoining rivers and streams that has a direct influence on the water and aquatic ecosystems within them. It includes the stream banks and a strip of land of variable width along the banks.
When properly vegetated, these transitional boundaries between land and water environments act as buffers to protect surface waters from contamination. Riparian zones also reduce sedimentation of water bodies by reducing the erosive potential of stream banks, and provide permanent habitat for many species, from tiny microorganisms to birds and larger fauna. Healthy riparian zones provide and support many ecosystem services, improve aesthetics and water quality, and provide shade, reducing stream temperature. Riparian zones can provide great amounts of biodiversity to the landscape and are well worth protecting and enhancing.
Gregory River Revegetation
Reef Catchments’ Healthy Waterways team has been working with land managers and contractors on the Gregory River this month to revegetate two riparian sites near Dingo Beach Road Bridge. Around 200 metres of streambank were cleared of thick stands of elephant grass (an opportunistic weed with the ability to out-compete native vegetation), and have been planted out with native endemic trees. The two revegetation sites join with existing vegetation to extend the riparian corridor. Planting on one site adjoins a lifestyle block, and on the other, prime agricultural land used for growing sugarcane. When established the revegetated area will help protect this valuable production land from losses due to streambank erosion.
Gregory River site 1 before and after riparian revegetation works
O’Connell River Engineered Log Jam Demonstration Site Reveg
The Healthy Waterways team has also been working on the final phase of the engineered log jam demonstration reach on the O’Connell River at Bloomsbury this month. The 200-metre stretch of streambank above the structures was revegetated with 1280 native tress and shrubs endemic to the O’Connell River region. In a lucky turn of events the plants went in just in time for the April rain so are off to a great start. Rio Tinto’s Hail Creek Mine Community Development Fund and Reef Catchments staff will plant a final 300 trees at the site during a Sunday celebration of project partnership in May.
The latest time-lapse videos and photos from this demonstration project can be seen on the Reef Catchments River Restoration webpage, including photos of fish enjoying their new log jam habitat!
Jock Hansen from Mackay Green Solutions and Reef Catchments’ Healthy Waterways project officer Melanie McSwiney – O’Connell River log jam revegetation