Building resilient landscapes
This is part of a project gratefully granted by Toowoomba Regional Council under their Community Environment Program (CEP822487)
It is likely that lengthy hot dry spells followed by extreme heavy rainfall events will become more common on the Eastern Downs, posing a costly erosion risk on poorly vegetated sloping country and contributing to degradation in associated waterways. One of the most important ways of minimising erosion in such as is maintenance of groundcover.
For landholders with these high risk zones, key considerations for building resilience of your land for such climate extremes include:
managing erosion (e.g. to reduce impacts on environmentally sensitive areas/waterways and/or to directly improve the ecological condition of a site)
reducing sediment, contaminant and nutrient run-off to waterways.
To focus on-ground efforts, it is recommended to evaluate your property to identify high risk areas and prioritise these. Below are some tools which may assist in identifying areas to prioritise works.
FORAGE is an online system that generates and distributes, in customised PDF reports, information for rural Lots on Plan greater than 1 hectares in area. It includes:
Pasture Growth Alert: assesses reduced pasture growth and pasture resilience risk for your property.
Ground Cover (Standard)" includes a seasonal ground cover map for your choice of year and season and a minimum ground cover map indicating the lowest ground cover (per satellite pixel) for your selected Lot/s on Plan since 1990.
Drought Assessment: arranges multiple diagnostic maps for a shire/regional council and adjoining regions
Regional Climate Projections: offers historical and projected climate information for 2030, 2050 and 2070 using the SILO climate dataset and Consistent Climate Scenarios (CCS) projections data.
For larger scale properties, VegMachine and the FORAGE Ground Cover (Regional Comparison) may assist in identifying areas with historically lower groundcover more prone to erosion.
The NSW Stock and Waterways Riparian Health Check also provides visual benchmarks for what riparian areas in poor, moderate and good condition look like, which may also help to assess the condition of waterways in and near your property.
Planning, designing and construction around waterways.
Grounding an understanding of erosion processes and sediment movement the (see Soil conservation guidelines for Queensland - Stream stability) will be helpful in understanding what works could be beneficial on your property.
For example, you may need to consider constructed waterways, which are used to collect runoff from contour banks and convey it at a safe velocity to a drainage line or creek (see Soil conservation waterways—construction and management and Planning and design_.
Fencing and exclusion of stock
Temporary or permanent exclusion of stock may be necessary to depending on conditions, resilience, needs and flood risk. Managing access to waterways where alternative watering points are not practical or feasible may also be necessary to help build resilience.
Establishing or maintaining vegetation on slopes and in waterway is essential in creating a stable landscape. See Soil conservation guidelines for Queensland - Stream stability and Soil conservation waterways—plants for stabilisation for further guidance.