National Wetlands Update September 2012
Issue No. 21, September 2012
Wetlands on farms - protecting wetlands in the Namoi Catchment
Frances Bigge, Namoi Catchment Management Authority
A wetland subject to on-ground restoration works.
Over the past two years, Peter Lytton-Hitchins and his family have been undertaking a range of on-ground activities to protect and enhance approximately 20 hectares of degraded wetlands on their property, a 5000 hectare working sheep property north of Tamworth on the New England Tablelands in New South Wales. Due to previous clearing and grazing activities, the wetlands and surrounding woodland and forest areas have been degraded to the point where their long-term viability is under threat.
The on-ground works are part of two wetland projects funded by the Namoi Catchment Management Authority (NCMA). The projects will also increase the resilience of these significant ecosystems to cope with climate change and natural disasters such as drought.
To enhance the wetlands and riparian areas and to provide connectivity and wildlife habitat across the property, approximately 15 000 trees and shrubs native to the area are currently being planted in a 130 hectare buffer area surrounding the wetland/riparian areas. Peter has also used swales within the revegetation areas to trap water moving through the landscape resulting in improved water quality and quantity to the wetland areas. This will be particularly important to cope with droughts and climate change impacts. The swales have also assisted with the success rate of tree planting undertaken as part of the works. Weed control including the removal of willows and poplars will also be undertaken and nest boxes for various fauna species installed.
Once completed, approximately three kilometres of new fencing in association with a number of off-stream watering points (troughs) will have been installed to protect wetland and riparian areas from stock impacts resulting in erosion and poor water quality. The fencing will also reduce stock impacts on vegetation diversity and structure, and fragile fauna habitats.
The wetland and surrounding areas will be managed for 10 years as part of the management agreement with the NCMA. Yearly monitoring by the landholder, with assistance from the NCMA, will be part of the management agreement.
Even within the short time since the works began, Peter has noticed a dramatic increase in bird species and diversity particularly of the smaller birds and stabilisation of wetland areas and the bed and banks of riparian areas.
For further information contact the Namoi Catchment Management Authority on (02) 6764 5907.