In 2011, twenty-one land managers from the Gregory River catchment participated in a survey conducted by Reef Catchments to determine community perception of river condition and conservation priorities for their own properties. The program also sought to find preferred methods of improved conservation practices.
During 2012 the project has been expanded to the O’Connell River Restoration Program. Reef Catchments Healthy Waterways Project Officer, Melanie McSwiney and conservation planning consultant Dr Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley recently completed interviews with more than forty land managers directly adjacent to the O’Connell River. The surveys are designed to establish landholders willingness to participate in riverine restoration programs, priority restoration activities and establishment of spatially explicit conservation planning scenarios.
The survey provided land managers with a list of possible riverine restoration actions and asked them to rank the priority of each action on their own property. The actions included stream bank stabilisation, invasive species management, riparian revegetation, riparian vegetation maintenance, water quality and waterhole monitoring, improving fish access and fencing the waterway from cattle.
They were then asked to identify what public and private benefits, if any, they would expect to achieve after undertaking the actions. Lastly, participants identified incentives they would expect/require in order to undertake each of the seven riverine restoration actions on their property.
Such conservation planning programs can have excellent on-ground benefits including:
- Identifying property scale priorities for riverine restoration to maximise the delivery of ecosystem services including water management strategies
- Collecting and assimilating ecological and socio-economic data that will inform property scale prioritisation
- Developing frameworks that are transferable and may be used in resource management to identify priorities with consideration to conservation value and socio-economic constraints that influence the success of restoration actions
- Provide data analysis (spatial, social, cost) for spatial prioritisation across land manager units to contribute to catchment and region scale knowledge improvement in natural resource management for improved biodiversity condition, connectivity and habitat resilience
The overarching aim of these types of spatial prioritisation scenarios is to maximise the number of ecosystem services per length of river requiring action, and to minimise the cost by considering both implementation actions as well as the willingness of landholders to implement proposed actions on their land. Read more about the River Restoration Program.