Improving the relative ecological condition of freshwater streams and wetland in the Mackay Whitsundays.
Stewart and Sarah Borg’s grazing property “Marklands” in the Rocky Dam Creek sub-catchment is impressive. Home to wallabies, barramundi and more than three hundred bird species, the wetlands are an important habitat.
The ponded pastures serve primarily as cattle fodder, but the Borgs are proactive in aligning their grazing requirements with positive environmental outcomes.
“Financial farmers are environmentally sustainable farmers, and as the saying goes, it’s hard to be green when in the red,” says Stewart.
“We aim to be at the forefront of environmental practices with carbon sequestration, containing sediment, and managing nutrients being our main priorities.”
Thanks to funding through the Queensland Government’s Natural Resources Investment Program (NRIP), local NRM group Reef Catchments is now working with the family to reduce threats to native vegetation, encourage regeneration and remove barriers to fish passage. Additionally, the installation of off-stream watering points will allow for periodic rest of wetland paddocks.
“These works translate directly to outcomes such as improved condition and extent of native vegetation and wetlands, improved aquatic connectivity and a reduction in sediment flowing into waterways,” said Reef Catchments wetlands officer, Jessica Sabatino.
“The Rocky Dam Creek area is a bio diverse and productive sub-catchment. It contains valuable agricultural land and the Ince Bay Aggregation, a DIWA nationally important wetland.”
The sub-catchment, about 70km south of Mackay, contains estuarine, riverine and palustrine wetlands (56km2, 16.4km2 and 14km2 respectively). It contains national parks and is part of the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park. The vulnerable water mouse and near-threatened coastal sheath-tail bat can be found locally.
Despite Stewart’s admission that he already contributes to healthy fish populations by being a less than average fisherman, the Borgs are looking to improve fish habitat and passage.
With one fish ladder successfully in place, the Borg’s are looking into the feasibility of installing an additional fish ladder through NRIP. Popular in the fish-focused region, these ladders promote fish connectivity and passage; in this case specifically into Rocky Dam Creek. They encourage healthy native fish populations by allowing important diadromous fish species to move between fresh and saltwater to breed and complete their lifecycle.
Cyclone Debbie and recent weather events have impacted the farm, however the Borgs have a substantial budget allocated for weed control, both pastural and riparian.
The wetlands project will improve native vegetation by assisting with threat management and by actively revegetating priority sites within the sub-catchment. NRIP funding will allow the Borg’s to enhance their wetlands without reducing productivity, an important factor in many natural resource management projects.