About the Grazing Lands

Over 90% of our region’s land area is covered by grazing lands. These extend over the Gulf plains, up into the Einasleigh Uplands, along the Gulf coast and up into the Palmer river catchment at the bottom of Cape York. There are approximately 160 grazing properties, covering an area of roughly 17m ha. These enterprises rely principally on native pastures to turn off about 200,000 cattle per year.

Grazing lands are mostly open woodland dominated by Eucalyptus and Corymbia species with a grassy understorey, but paperbark woodlands, lancewood open woodlands and bluegrass communities can also be found on open grasslands. This reflects the region’s diversity of landforms, geology, soil types, climatic variation and fire history. The grazing lands generally support native vegetation from pre-European times; however, these have been altered by weeds and feral animals, altered fire regimes and grazing pressure. Consequently the understory and grass layer cannot support the wildlife it once did, with small mammals and birds which rely on grass seeds being the most effected.

Our Goals

The Grazing Lands are healthy and prosperous, simultaneously supporting productivity and ecosystem services. Land condition is improved through sustainable grazing practices, which in turn reduces debt and builds resilience to drought and natural disasters, contributing to a profitable and enduring grazing industry and happy, vibrant communities. The dry tropical savannas support abundant and diverse wildlife populations and the numbers and distribution of weed and pest species is reduced. New and emerging industries contribute to a diversified and stable regional economy, while maintaining and enhancing healthy landscapes.
Improve community and enterprise resilience to drought and other natural disasters, by building the capacity of the grazing industry to achieve viable business models and sustainable resource use within the context of a highly variable climate.

1.1.1 Targeted extension (group and one-on-one) and tailored communications, to encourage and inform producers about the use of management practices that build the resilience of the grazing industry to drought and climate variability. These management practices include:

  • The use of flexible stocking rates in response to seasonal variability;
  • Matching cattle numbers to feed supplies;
  • Rotational wet season spelling of pastures;
  • Timely fire management to control woody weeds and native woodland thickening;
  • Improving herd production efficiencies e.g. live weight gain, death rates and weaning rates;
  • Regular monitoring of pasture (end of wet season and late dry season) to inform stocking rate decisions and to track the condition-productivity of native pasture systems;
  • The development of sustainable and appropriate scaled irrigated pasture on grazing properties; and
  • The development of Grazing Land Management Plans including elements like fencing configurations, water distribution, seasonal spelling, integrated weed and fire management, feral animal control and total grazing pressure across the property.

Activities:

  1. Continue the Tropical Savanna Grazing Program (TSGP) with follow-up engagements and extension to the 15 properties per annum of the 53 properties already engaged in the program and provide extension to 12 new enterprises per annum, representing 75 follow up/repeat engagements and 60 new engagements from 2016 to 2021;
  2. Ensure there is a reserve of financial resources and extension staff hours to respond reactively when needed, particularly in times of natural disaster;
  3. Publish one article featuring one of the topics above in the quarterly Gulf Vision magazine and Northern Muster each issue;
  4. Annual grazing forum to cover aspects of all of the above at each event;
  5. Coordinate 2 field days per annum on grazing properties to showcase innovation and continued learnings, resulting a total of 10 field days over the period from 2016-2021.

Partners:

  • Southern Gulf Catchments (SGC);
  • RegenAg;
  • Qld Department of Agriculture(QDAF);
  • Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA);
  • Gulf Cattlemen’s Association;
  • Agforce;
  • Gulf Savannah Development.
Performance Indicators
0%

The Northern Gulf region has already experienced three years of failed wet seasons, and if climate change projections are correct, then the region needs to be prepared for more of the same. Current “high confidence” projections predict a continued warming of temperature including more hot days, and longer dry seasons. While rainfall is actually predicted to increase in some areas, this will be in in intense rainfall events (floods and cyclones) which occur with more intensity but less frequently. With these changes in rainfall events, the land and grazing enterprises, may not be able to get the same benefit from higher rainfall as it would in a more stable climatic pattern.

Our climate change risk assessments identify the consequences of this increase in drought conditions as critical, for both the environment and economy, and thus people and livelihoods also. Serious impacts will include a decrease in surface cover, and subsequent reduction in pasture growth, livestock weight gain and beef per head. This loss of grass cover will be critical for biodiversity, including species which are already stressed and vulnerable like small granivorous  birds and mammals.

The impacts of this drought induced stress could be major, including carrying capacity, loss of productivity and subsequent financial and emotional stress and anxiety on the grazing lands community. In the context of these impending stressors, it is critical that Northern Gulf grazing industries and communities are equipped with skills in flexible, sustainable grazing management, to ensure land and people are as resilient as possible.

In Northern Gulf region, this will involve continuing, refining and expanding on the very successful Tropical Savannah Grazing program, which provides extension and support, as well as targeted training and communications to the Northern Gulf region’s grazing enterprises and communities. The program enjoys the legacy of two decades of networks and relationships which NGRMG & QDAF has developed in the region, which has been refined over many years into a highly successful model of holistic, grazing extension. This program also represents a very successful NRM/ Queensland government partnership, where resources are combined for maximum value to Northern Gulf grazing communities.

1.1.2 Provide GIS mapping services to land managers across the grazing lands. In repeat visits, evaluate the effectiveness of the outcomes of the mapping projects undertaken to date to determine if the service has been effective in improving land condition through better stock management.

Activities:

  1. Continue the extensive mapping service, with the targets of 5 follow-up maps with updated information to existing clients, and 15 new property maps for grazing enterprises per annum, resulting in 25 updated property maps and 75 new property maps from 2016- 2021, which represents property mapping over 70% of the region’s pastoral leases;
  2. Provide one on one training to mapping recipients to improve their own GIS capabilities, so they can access more relevant spatial information, through the NRM Spatial hub and other online mapping portals;
  3. Develop basic survey template to audit the benefits and uses of current mapping clients in follow up visits.

Partners:

  • Qld Department of Agriculture & Fisheries;
  • Agforce;
  • SGC;
  • NRM Spatial hub.
Performance Indicators
0%

Property mapping is essential tool in sound property management, and has been cited repeatedly by grazing clients as an excellent service which has provided essential information and planning capacity to graziers.

Where possible, this strategy should map areas which include the same or similar vegetation types to facilitate the fencing of each paddock to minimize the overuse of some preferred areas by stock. These services can assist in adaptive land management – 80% of the properties are coming back to do further mapping and drought planning. Future and follow up property maps can include ground cover and biomass derived from Landsat imagery. 

1.1.3 Provide one-on-one business analysis support to beef enterprises, to improve productivity, profitability and sustainability.

Activities:

Continue the Beef $ense program, aiming to offer one-on-one business support services to 80% of small to medium grazing enterprises in the Northern Gulf region, between 2016-2021.

Partners:

  • Qld Department of Agriculture & Fisheries;
  • Qld TAFE;
Performance Indicators
0%

The legacy of this approach is to help producers understand their business and build resilience to seasonal, market, disease and policy threats. Moderate stocking rates and wet season spelling are fundamental to building beef business resilience, and therefore climate resilience into the future. Flexible stocking rates are essential to maintaining a viable beef business within an uncertain climate future, and these financial skills provide graziers with the business tools to achieve this.

1.1.4 Investigate opportunities for remote mentoring, training and skills development programs for grazing communities, to:

  • Maintain good ground cover;
  • Build capacity of graziers as environmental stewards;
  • Develop succession pathways for younger generations;
  • Diversify skills in remote areas;
  • Educate and train local landowners and the wider pastoral community about specific rehabilitation techniques and the benefits of erosion control; and
  • Promote regional best management practices (Grazing BMP).

Activities:

  1. Develop a contact list of Registered Training Organisations (RTO) providers, and research into education and employment funding, partnerships and collaborations.
  2. Liaise with and where possible broker partnerships with education and employment providers to include opportunities in the region which integrate the above mentioned values.

Partners:

  • Qld Department of Agriculture & Fisheries;
  • Normanton TAFE;
  • Mareeba Agriculture College;
  • Employment and education agencies (various);
  • Bynoe;
  • Commonwealth Development and Employment Program (CDEP);
  • MLA;
  • Agforce;
  • James Cook University.
Performance Indicators
0%

There is a well-recognized need for more site-specific, regionally-relevant training and mentoring programs and opportunities in the Northern Gulf region. This need led to the establishment of RITE in Charters Towers, which recently ceased operations. This has led to an even greater gap in provision of this service, which has implications for retaining young people in the region and succession in grazing enterprises. There is an opportunity for NGRMG to partner with education and employment providers to deliver tailored, remote mentoring, training and skills programs to fill this gap, and further increase NRM community capacity in the grazing lands.
Provide land managers with the knowledge and tools to implement practices which result in improved land condition and ground cover.

1.2.1 Establish learning (demonstration) sites and case studies that promote novel or innovative grazing land management practices which achieve  integration of good land management and biodiversity conservation principles with sound economic management of a grazing property.

Activities:

  1. Promote existing demonstration sites by featuring 3 current “learning sites” in online videos, explaining the trials and learnings of each site.
  2. Aim to establish 5 more case study/demonstration sites across the region, representing a range of management practices and land types, by 2021.

Partners:

  • Qld Department of Agriculture & Fisheries;
  • Meat and Livestock Australia;
  • Agforce.
Performance Indicators
0%
The term learning sites has been adopted to convey the message that these sites are experimental and the focus of continual learning, as opposed to demonstrations of best practice. However selecting and communicating several key learning sites across the region is important as it provides a good news story and showcases innovation that is relevant to the regional context.

1.2.2 Continue, expand and refine the monitoring of soil health and land condition that includes the following assessments:

  • Use of rapid land condition assessment techniques to determine change in land health throughout the region. Indicators include pasture composition, broad vegetation groups, soil surface conditions, ground cover, weeds, fire, thickening etc. to establish the cause and extent of existing and potential land degradation problems;
  • Promoting safe land type carrying capacity and detail the impact of water distribution and land condition
  • Regular monitoring of key indicators to assess any changes in land condition.

Activities:

  1. Continue the Regional EcoAccounts to assess trends in land condition, with repeat on ground monitoring every 5 years, next due in 2016, and again in 2021. Refine approach to a finer scale, and improve by integrating new data as it emerges and trialing new technology such as the use of drones.

Partners:

  • Cape York NRM;
  • Qld Department of Agriculture & Fisheries;
  • Wentworth Group of concerned scientists;
  • University of Qld.
Performance Indicators
0%
This action represents a commitment to continue the Eco-accounts, developed in house by NGRMG to provide a benchmark of regional resource condition, based on existing data sets and spatial information which are intermittently ground truthed at a network of monitoring sites. The model has been developed and refined, and is now able to revisit with new data at an incidence of every 5 years, to provide a regional scale assessment of trends in land condition. This method could be further developed to integrate more extensive GIS/remote sensing techniques such as land cover/ greenness index etc, and make an important contribution to understanding how the regional landscape is responding to a changing climate.

1.2.3 Investigate and promote large-scale, longer-term, controlled-access fencing of erosion scarp front(s), by establishing a small number of large-scale sites within the Mitchell River and Gilbert river basins, with the aim offencing along entire erosion scarp fronts at a sub-catchment/reach/grazing land management (GLM)/enterprise scale, to prevent further gully retreat in predicted extreme rainfall events, as well as monitor the responses of weeds, biodiversity and erosion to the controlled access that fencing provides

Activities:

  1. Liaise with land managers of the Mitchell catchment grazing properties of regarding cattle controlled-access fencing along scarp fronts. If land managers are agreeable, provide material and technical support for these works, ensuring that exclusion occurs on both sides of the riparian corridor. This conglomeration of properties combined are the worst effected by gully erosion in the Mitchell catchment;
  2. Identify where fencing exists through erosion-prone areas in the Gilbert and Mitchell river and negotiate with landholders to “fill the gaps” where practical and affordable;
  3. Investigate fencing the other side of the Mitchell River from Bellvue Station on Mt Mulgrave stationto create a more effective riverine corridor area, with cattle controlled-access fencing on both sides of the Mitchell River;
  4. Seek support from researchers to create an integrated, long term study into the efficacy and responses of riparian fencing, including weed and feral animal, biodiversity, management and land condition responses across a range of sites.

Partners:

  • Griffiths University;
  • Tropical rivers and coastal knowledge (TRaCK);
  • Mitchell River Watershed Management Group (MRWMG);
  • Gulf graziers- possibly including Wrotham Park & Gamboola (corporate owned by one entity), Highbury & Drumduff, Mt Mulgrave, Bellvue, Nitchum, Strathleven and King Junction stations.
Performance Indicators
0%

We all know how important both the Mitchell river is, which has the largest total discharge of any river catchment in the state of Qld. We also know how important riparian frontage country is, for both productivity, biodiversity and water quality.  However due to the highly dispersable, sodic soils of the Mitchell catchment, it is currently experiencing some of the worst rates of gully erosion in the entire world (for more information see: http://plan.northerngulf.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Inland-Waters-Assessment-FINAL-.pdf

Climate change is likely to put even more stress on this fragile frontage country, as increased intensity (and/or magnitude) high rainfall events (including floods and cyclones) will create the following impacts:

  1. Destructive disturbance of riverine corridor, riparian vegetation via sustained inundation, bank erosion, scalding and gullying of drainage line frontage areas;
  2. Greater capacity for basin soil erosion, and export of elevated, suspended and bed sediment loads to receiving ecosystems including floodplain lagoons, main channel waterholes and coasal systems;
  3. Modified physical environment and geomorphic impact to riverine corridor banks, channels, pools and bed via enhanced erosion/ scour/ sediment deposition.
  4. Longer dry seasons will put increased pressure of grazing stock and feral animals on riparian frontage, which is turn will impact on water quality and aquatic biodiversity.
  5. Furthermore continued warming of temperature (including more hot days) may create an exceedance of thermal thresholds for plant species within fringing riparian vegetation communities and consequent loss of plant species and dependent biodiversity associated with riparian communities.

Whilst these impacts are major, there is an opportunity for a large, integrated, sub-catchment scale riparian fencing project, which not only addresses the imminent climate change impacts on this fragile but important stretch of the Mitchell river, but assesses the responses of riparian fencing as an on-ground intervention into not only gully erosion but weeds, ferals, biodiversity and human behavior/ management. An exciting NRM/ research partnership could emerge which monitors all of these responses over both temporal and spatial scales, and addresses the dearth of scientific evidence and literature that currently exists on the efficacy and responses of riparian fencing in dry tropical savanna waterways.

Furthermore, there are very large areas of this area which are currently fenced, including:

  1. Curraghmore & Brooklyn (which are fully fenced and completely excluding cattle);
  2. Bellvue & Nitchum station (fully fenced and controlled access);
  3. Wrotham park & Gamboola (partially fenced);
  4. Mt Mulgrave station (unfenced).

The project can take advantage of this already major level of infrastructure investment, and seek to “fill in the gaps” to create a riparian fencing project on a sub-catchment scale.

This management action is focused on implementing what is recognised as likely the most cost-effective sub-catchment/reach scale response to mitigating grazing exacerbated gully erosion of alluvial river frontage landforms. Components of this trial will include costing and designing of fencing configurations and infrastructure and maintenance costs, management arrangements for excluded frontage country, and long term monitoring of gully condition and behavior and in-channel habitat condition responses.

1.2.4 Support the establishment of a water quality monitoring and mine rehabilitation program in areas affected by historical mining legacies, such as Palmer river, Croydon and Chillagoe. In collaboration with Traditional Owners and pastoral land managers, provide training for water quality monitoring techniques, with the aim of engaging Traditional Owners/ Indigenous rangers to conduct future water quality monitoring work.

Activities:

  1. Support Mitchell River Watershed Management Group to provide water quality monitoring training to Traditional Owners in the Palmer catchment, targeting young adults.
  2. Collaborate with stakeholders to leverage funding for systematic water quality monitoring program, and remediation works in key problem areas, positioning Western Yalanji, Tagalaka and WokominTraditional Owners to conduct this work.

Partners:

  • Alliance of Northern Gulf Indigenous Corporation;
  • Jawiyabba Warra Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Western Yalanji Corporation;
  • Gumi Junga Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Mitchell River Watershed Management Group.
Performance Indicators
0%
This action has been identified through engagement with Western Yalanji Traditional Owners, highlighting strong concerns over water quality in the Palmer catchment from past mining activities in this area, with known high levels of mercury in the river water. These concerns also relate to toxic mining legacies in areas with high historic mining activity such as Chillagoe, Croydon and Irvinebank/ Watsonville (in the Northern Tablelands).
Provide education and practical support to communities, land managers and local government to combat priority weed and pest species.

1.3.1 Develop an education package to raise awareness of feral animal issues. Some specific points include:

  • Preventing new, emerging species and the potential expansion of existing ranges under climate change;
  • Increasing community understanding of feral animal issues;
  • Individual landholder responsibilities;
  • Increasing landholder participation in weed and pest containment;
  • Acknowledging there have been ‘wins’ and promoting success stories; and
  • Increasing awareness and adoption of best practice methods in controlling feral animals.

*THIS APPLIES ACROSS THE WHOLE NORTHERN GULF REGION.

Activities:

  1. Identify existing resources and tools for the control of feral animals such as cats, pigs etc. and utilise communication networks, social media and web based communications to promote them. Aim for one feral animal social media post per week.
  2. Profile one feral animal in each edition of Gulf Vision, resulting in 20 featured articles on feral animal threats and management between 2016 to 2021, distributing to 2,000 Northern Gulf residents with each edition.
  3. Provide one topical feral animal based workshop once a year in the region, in a targeted location for the pest problem.

Partners:

  • Biosecurity Qld;
  • Qld Herbarium;
  • Etheridge Shire Council
  • Croydon Shire Council
  • Mareeba Shire Council
  • Carpentaria Shire Council
  • Gulf graziers.
  • Qld weed spotter’s network.
Performance Indicators
0%
This action will simply capitalize on the sum of education and information resources on feral animal control already developed by other agencies, and disseminate the most regionally relevant resources through our existing communication networks, and through targeted and themed events and activities. 

1.3.2 Collaborate with local government and Biosecurity Qld, through a regional consortium that seeks to deliver coordinated feral animal and pest plant control across properties and land tenures in prioritised and strategically targeted sites, including pig, wild dog, cat, rabbit, horse and agile wallaby management through the following mechanisms:

  • Prioritise sites for pig control activities by preparing impact risk and management capacity assessment matrix considering vulnerable biota (e.g. freshwater turtles), macrophyte communities (e.g. spike rush swamps), site remoteness/accessibility and viable control methods;
  • Provide subsidized baiting and culling services as incentives for landholders to control feral animal numbers on identified, priority sites;
  • Contribute to practitioner and land manager training in advances in effective feral animal control;
  • Support local government in the achievement of strategies and priorities as identified in their own Weed and Pest management plans;
  • On the basis of all of the above, continually develop a longer term, regional scale feral animal management strategies in collaboration with all key stakeholders.

*THIS APPLIES ACROSS THE WHOLE NORTHERN GULF REGION.

Activities:

  1. Collaborate with local government to deliver a minimum of one engagement/workshop for on ground staff and land managers on feral animal and weed control, per local government area (Carpentaria, Croydon, Etheridge & Mareeba), per annum, resulting in a total of 20 training events.
  2. On the basis of local government pest management plans and spatial analysis, prioritise control measures across the region.
  3. Funding permitting, provide material and technical support to all local government authorities in the control of feral animals on ground, including traps, baiting programs and aerial culls, outsourcing on ground works to relevant local governments.

Partners:

  • Qld Biosecurity;
  • Qld Herbarium;
  • Etheridge Shire Council;
  • Croydon Shire Council;
  • Mareeba Shire Council;
  • Carpentaria Shire Council;
  • Mitchell River Watershed Management Group;
  • Traditional Owner groups;
  • Gulf graziers;
  • FNQ ROC;
  • Desert Channels;
  • NQ Dry Tropics.
Performance Indicators
0%

The shire councils across the Northern Gulf have pest plans in place, which have good directions for feral animal management, resulting from extensive land holder consultation. These plans document prioritisation of weeds, key weed locations and describe control actions. Rather than duplicating the shire councils’ pest management plans and actions, NGRMG can complement these weed & pest programs by providing a strategic view of weed management across the region and providing support to land holders through extension activities.

Supporting feral animal control in the region will be important in the context of predicted climate change impacts because:

Longer dry seasons, including extended droughts

  • Changes in abundance of some trees, due to declines from drought induced dieback (eg. Ironbarks & boxwoods more susceptible that sub-dominant bloodwoods). However, unlikely to completely alter ecosystems because of survival and recruitment of saplings into the canopy.
  • Cats will put increasing pressure on prey populations and will consume sick and dying animals, possibly moving over to carrion.
  • Prey switching during drought period- eg. Cats known to switch from rabbits to invertebrates, birds, reptiles and mammals during drought;
  • Movement of pigs into wetlands will increase damage;
  • Pig damage exacerbated in non-riparian areas as they move away from watercourses. Pig damage to vine thickets is already evident.

Increased intensity of high rainfall events (flood and cyclone) will effect:

The first flush of food resources will facilitate pig population growth.

1.3.3 Collaborate with local government and Biosecurity Qld, through a regional consortium that seeks to deliver coordinated weed control across properties and land tenures in prioritised and strategically targeted sites through:

  1. to have a strategic view of key emerging weed & pest issues;
  2. to provide extension services to liaise with land holders and agencies to help land holders implement and refine weed & pest management practices; and
  3. help attract and distribute funding to on-ground weed managers, based on the most significant priority weeds and projects determined by the various local agencies.

Activities:

  1. On the basis of local government weed management plans and spatial analysis, prioritise control measures across the region.
  2. Provide material and technical support to all local government authorities in the on ground control of priority weeds, outsourcing on ground works to relevant local governments.

Partners:

  • Qld Biosecurity;
  • Qld Herbarium;
  • Etheridge Shire Council (ESC);
  • Croydon Shire Council (CrSC);
  • Mareeba Shire Council (MSC);
  • Carpentaria Shire Council (CaSC)
  • MRWMG;
  • Traditional Owner groups;
  • Gulf graziers;
  • FNQ ROC;
  • Desert Channels;
  • NQ Dry Tropics.
Performance Indicators
0%

As per 1.3.2

Regional NRM can provide valuable regional scale coordination and support across local government areas. NGRMG can also provide assistance to the community by channeling grants to key priority weed & pest projects across the region. This cross regional, landscape wide analysis will be particularly important in the context of uncertain climate futures. For details about key problem weeds in the Northern Gulf region, and their possible responses to climate change, see http://plan.northerngulf.com.au/impacts

1.3.4Promote early detection and management of emerging weeds by educating the general public and key stakeholders (landowners etc.) about key pest plant species through the following:

  • Encourage participation in the “Weeds Spotters Network”;
  • Establish a public service to provide correct identification of plant species found within Northern Gulf region, including training in the correct procedures for sending plant samples and photographs to the Qld Herbarium;
  • Collaborate with neighbouring NRM bodies to conduct a roadside survey to determine the distribution of priority weed species such as thatch grass (Hyparrhenia rufa), navua sedge (Cyperus aromaticus), and gamba grass (Andropogon gayanus) which will be transported from the slashers from Mareeba and could be a major emerging problem weed for the Northern Gulf bio-regions.

*THIS APPLIES ACROSS THE WHOLE NORTHERN GULF REGION.

Activities:

  1. Identify existing resources and tools for weed management and utilise internal communication networks, social media and web based communications to promote them. Aim for one weed related social media post per week.
  2. Profile one priority weed in each edition of Gulf Vision, resulting in 20 featured articles on weed management between 2016 to 2021, distributing to 2,000 Northern Gulf residents each time;
  3. Promote participation in the Weeds Spotters Network through internal communication networks, including Gulf Vision, social media and web based communications;
  4. Coordinate one workshop in each of Carpentaria, Croydon, Etheridge and Mareeba Shire local government areas for Council staff, Indigenous rangers, land managers and the general public on correct protocols for collecting plant samples for sending to the Qld Herbarium, resulting in four workshops between 2016-2021.
  5. Coordinate a road-side survey of thatch grass with Southern Gulf catchments, Terrain NRM and Cape York NRM and the Qld Department of Main Roads.

Partners:

  • Qld Biosecurity;
  • Qld Herbarium;
  • Southern Gulf catchments;
  • Qld Department of Main Roads;
  • Terrain NRM;
  • Cape York NRM;
  • Southern Gulf Catchments;
  • Etheridge Shire Council;
  • Croydon Shire Council;
  • Mareeba Shire Council;
  • Carpentaria Shire Council;
  • Gulf graziers;
  • Cook Shire Council.
 As per 2.2.8 in the Northern Tablelands section

Regional NRM has a role in the identification and education about emerging weed & pest threats and very high priority weeds that are currently of limited extent across the region. This action utilizes existing resources and services provided by other agencies to promote citizen participation in surveillance and identification of emerging weeds. It highlights the importance of collaborating with neighbouring regional bodies to surveil for emerging weeds which could be very destructive if they enter the Northern Gulf, such as thatch & gamba grass & navua sedge. This survey could also be expanded to include other problem weeds.

1.3.5 Continue weeds mapping which has the capacity to be scaled at property, catchment and region level through:

  1. landholder surveys of priority weeds on 1sq.km grid;
  2. Regional and catchment scale analysis of weed presence, absence and migration patterns;
  3. Calibrate and cross reference with remote sensing, local government and biosecurity data and climate change projections of future weed spread scenarios;
  4. Trial new technologies to expand and maximize weeds mapping effort.

*THIS APPLIES ACROSS THE WHOLE NORTHERN GULF REGION.

Activities:

  1. Collaborate with Southern Gulf Catchments, and FNQ ROC to access weed mapping from a range of sources and develop and maintain a cross regional weed extent mapping inventory, ground truthed and verified at a range of levels;
  2. Continue to provide topographic property mapping of weeds on a 1km grid, and calibrate on a regional scale to better understand the distribution and migration of problem weeds, with a target of 10 new landholder and 10 updates annually to 2021, resulting in a total of 50 new surveys and 50 follow up surveys in the period between 2016-2021. Gilbert Catchment will be the area targeted first and then expanded out from there.

Partners:

  • Biosecurity Qld;
  • James Cook University;
  • Charles Darwin University;
  • Southern Gulf Catchments;
  • FNQ ROC;
  • Etheridge Shire Council;
  • Croydon Shire Council;
  • Mareeba Shire Council;
  • Carpentaria Shire Council;
  • NRM Spatial hub.
Performance Indicators
0%
 This action represents a continuation and expansion of current weeds mapping work currently being undertaken by NGRMG, based on landholder surveys. Currently approximately 35 properties have been surveyed, contributing to a regional scale database of weed distribution. This effort should be continued across both spatial and temporal scales, and will assist in understanding responses of problem weeds to climate drivers. It will use and update existing weeds mapping developed by Mareeba Shire Council, Biosecurity Qld and FNQ ROC. Technology to be assessed/trialed should include high resolution satellite imagery, multi-spectral aerial imagery and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) applications.

1.3.6 Collaborate with Department of Main Roads and the Etheridge Shire Council to investigate the effectiveness of wash down stations in removing weed reproductive material from vehicles in the Northern Gulf region, with the aim of:

  • Encouraging and supporting the Etheridge Shire Council to reactivate the existing Mt Surprise wash down station;
  • determining the number of vehicles using the Mt Surprise wash down service relative to the traffic load;
  • determining if more wash down stations are required in the region, icluding investigating the Lynd junction as potential;
  • developing education material for locals and visitors about the importance of using the wash down station and controlling weeds entering the Gulf region.

Activities:

  1. Liaise with Etheridge Shire Council and Biosecurity Qld to restore the operation of the Mt Surprise wash down, providing costings material and technical support if funds permit;
  2. Conduct survey of usage proportionate to traffic volumes, if the Mt surprise wash down station becomes operational;
  3. Develop partnership with Etheridge Shire Council regarding ongoing maintenance and operation of the Mt Surprise wash-down station:
  4. Develop educational signage and materials to promote its use by motorists;
  5. Liaise with Biosecurity Qld and relevant local government authorities about the potential of new, strategically located, wash-down stations, to further prevent the entry of problem weeds into the Northern Gulf region.

Partners:

  • Qld Biosecurity;
  • Qld Department of Main Roads;
  • Etheridge Shire Council;
  • Mareeba Shire Council
  • Bedrock Village, Mt Surprise;
  • FNQ ROC;
  • Cape York NRM (for Mt Carbine);
  • NQ Dry tropics (for Lynd junction).
Performance Indicators
0%
 Wash-down stations are strategic infrastructure to prevent new weed problems entering the Northern Gulf region. While the costs of installing and operating these facilities may sometimes seem onerous, these costs pale into insignificance when compared with the eradication costs and losses to production of dealing with new invasive weed infestations. Therefore NGRMG sees the Mt Surprise wash-down station as a critical piece of strategic infrastructure in preventing new infestations, and will focus effort into getting it restored and operational once again. Furthermore, collaboration with Biosecurity Qld, FNQ ROC and Cape York and NQ Dry Tropics on the potential of developing new wash-down stations, which may prevent the establishment of infestations from and to neighbouring region of Cape York to the north (including the Lakeland and Maryfarms agricultural areas) and Burdekin to the south.

Given that many weed species are likely to spread in range and abundance under climate change projections, strategically located infrastructure like wash down stations may be even more important into the future.

1.3.7 Expand the current Government Agency-backed education and extension strategy for tilapia and other pest fish species of the Upper Mitchell catchment into other catchments of the Northern Gulf region

Activities:

  1. Identify existing resources and tools on tilapia and pest fish management and utilise internal communication networks, social media and web based communications to promote and disseminate them through the grazing lands. Aim for one tilapia related Facebook post per month.
  2. Profile tilapia awareness in the regional periodical, resulting in 5 featured articles between 2016 to 2021, distributing to 2,000 Northern Gulf residents each time.

Partners:

  • Qld fisheries;
  • Qld Biosecurity;
  • MSC;
  • MRWMG;
  • Cape York NRM.
Performance Indicators
0%

This education campaign should focus on ready identification of tilapia and on the risks associated with using tilapia as bait and other ways in which the fish could spread to other catchments, i.e. backyard pond and ‘aquaponics’ overflows.  The focus of education campaigns should include risks associated with all exotic species and also translocated native species introductions as there may be other ‘sleeper’ pest species contained in ponds or aquariums that could be released to the wild and generate equivalent or greater impacts than tilapia.

Promote recommended fire management practices that mitigate wildfires while maintaining biodiversity values, healthy pastures and carbon storage in the landscape.

1.4.1 Promote the development of information resources for graziers and Indigenous land about the impact of fires, and promote fire management regimes that aim to achieve the following:

  • Manage carbon stocks;
  • Maintain open woodland and good pasture composition;
  • Woody weed control;
  • Spread grazing pressure and control native woody thickening;
  • Protect fire-sensitive species;
  • Maintain some large, infrequently burnt refuge areas;
  • Benefit localized populations of threatened species
  • Improve or maintain suitable habitat quality in localized areas which still support an abundance of small to medium sized mammals;
  • Manage the alkalinity and nitrogen fertility of soils; and
  • Assist with controlling feral animal species.

Activities:

  1. Develop fire workshops on the role of fire in Gulf ecosystems, and interactions with pasture, weeds, carbon, soil health and biodiversity. Aim for one per year, resulting in five fire workshop over a period from 2016-2021;
  2. Disseminate fire guides for the different regional ecosystems of the Northern Gulf, in a modular format so a property report can easily be generated which profiles the specific combinations of regional ecosystems on any given property;
  3. Provide one on one extension to 4 willing landholders to develop fire management plans for their properties, targeting those which have Nature refuges, Aboriginal managed properties, properties adjoining National Parks, or land managers or want to participate in the carbon economy, resulting in 20 fire management property plans from 2016-2021.

Partners:

  • Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries;Department of Environment and Heritage Protection;
  • Qld Department of Emergency Services;
  • Traditional Owners;
  • Gulf graziers;
  • Aboriginal Carbon Fund;
  • Jawiyabba Warra Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Qld Herbarium;
  • NAFI;
  • CSIRO.
Performance Indicators
0%

Changes in land management and introduction of grazing animals have disrupted fire management, with some areas being burnt too often or too extensively and others not frequently enough. Fire regimes are needed to improve pasture management and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to restore cultural values and biodiversity health. There is a wealth of research and traditional knowledge concerning fire management and impacts from across northern Australia that can assist in the development of a local knowledge base and extension program based on local experience and demonstration sites.

Fire management regimes should burn in suitable seasons and be of optimal intensity and frequency. Reinstate fire in some areas that are long unburnt to aid in:

  • facilitating native plant recruitment, particularly grasses and forbs;
  • maintenance of balanced shrub cover;
  • thinning of woody species;
  • improving pasture quality;
  • controlling weeds such as lantana and rubbervine;
  • reducing weed encroachment into pasture; and
  • managing for tree height and canopy size rather than density for trees and shrubs that survive burning by re-sprouting, such as most eucalypts.

Existing sources of information include Carpentaria Land Council 2013, & Qld Herbarium 2015.

Fire and climate change have the potential to create interactive stressors on the environment, particularly under predictions of increased incidence of destructive wildfires, in the following ways:

Fire incursion into and degradation of fire sensitive wetland riparian communities;

  • Increased grazing/ stock pressure on unburnt riparian/ wetland fire refugia;
  • Degradation of structural, floristic and functional integrity of riverine corridor riparian vegetation with resultant impacts on bank stability;
  • Reduced ground cover at onset of wet season and reduced trapping capacity of burnt riparian and wetland vegetation resulting in increased capacity for soil erosion and mobilization of elevated basin sediment loads with concomitant impacts to receiving ecosystem water quality and geomorphic condition;
  • Increased rates of run off from burnt catchments resulting in reduced recharge of groundwater aquifers.

1.4.2 Improve community coordination of fire programs, especially early season aerial ignition programs and provide education to local fire brigades and community networks on the management of pasture, biodiversity and carbon, while managing the destructive impacts of wildfires and mitigating the hazard to people and property.

Activities:

Participate in the meetings of each rural fire association annually and contribute agenda items such as the biodiversity, carbon and pasture impacts of managing fire, resulting in 10 engagements with community based fire associations from 2015-2021.

Partners:

Local fire brigades and associations- Georgetown, Forsayth, Einasleigh, Mt Surprise, Oak Park, Newcastle Range; Croydon, Chillagoe, Almaden, Mt Carbine.

Performance Indicators
0%

Fire management needs to be coordinated to minimise impacts of wildfires escaping from one property to another. Costs savings can also be achieved through coordinated planning and use of resources.

Un-grazed exotic pasture fuel loads i.e. guinea grass in peri urban / agricultural areas also needs to be identified as resulting hot fires are a major risk to riparian communities.

Support and investigate diversification of the Grazing Lands’ economy through emerging environmental economies such as stewardship and ecosystem services payments, carbon sequestration and trading, ecotourism and biodiversity surveillance.

1.5.1 Encourage regional reductions in carbon emissions and participation in the carbon economy through:

  • Supporting the participation of property owners and Traditional Owners in the carbon trading market by disseminating information to industry on emerging opportunities associated with the Emissions Reduction Fund.
  • Disseminating information about early wet season burns to manage fire on grazing properties and position land holders to take advantage of emerging carbon markets, including the Savanna burning (areas with under 600ml average rainfall per annum) emissions methodology.

Activities:

  1. Provide ongoing training to Regional Landcare Facilitator/Grazing Lands Officers and Beef $ense team to stay abreast of carbon trading opportunities and disseminate key messages and emerging opportunities through existing community and industry networks, and targeted communications.
  2. Identify existing resources and tools on carbon economy opportunities and news and utilise internal communication networks, social media and web based communications to promote and disseminate them through the grazing lands. Publish and alert regional community whenever new information on policy reform and incentives become available

Partners:

  • Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries;
  • Aboriginal Carbon fund;
  • Emissions reduction fund;
  • Gulf Savanna Development.
Performance Indicators
0%

The methodologies involve the use of controlled fire management across savannas in the fire prone tropical north of Australia to:

  • Reduce the area which is burnt each year;
  • Shift the seasonality of burning from the late dry season to the early dry season.

NGRMG should keep abreast of opportunities and developments through the carbon economy, and disseminate relevant information to land managers.

1.5.2 Support the development of a conservation economy on privately managed, pastoral leases through the following steps:

  • Investigate the effectiveness of the stewardship payment program
  • Conduct a GIS and field based assessment to identify specific pastoral properties with high value biodiversity assets to target with a proposed ‘conservative grazing management incentives program’

Activities:

Collaborate with researchers on assessing the viability of a stewardship scheme, and its potential applicability to the Northern Gulf region, and refine existing spatial assessments of climate change refugial areas to identify a suite of priority sites for potential stewardship payments program.

Partners:

  • University of Qld;
  • Charles Darwin University;
  • Agforce;
  • Meat and Livestock Australia;
  • Department of Environment and Heritage Protection;
  • Gulf Savanna Development.
Performance Indicators
0%

While these initiatives will continue to be led by researchers and peak bodies, NGRMG can contribute to the development, using robust criteria, to maximise environmental outcomes across Northern Australia, and promote its adoption in the Northern Gulf region. Key questions such as whether to allocate funds based on merit, i.e. whether to place a higher value on areas that have been grazed poorly for a number of years or well managed areas will have to be seriously considered.

Sites to be prioritized include:

  • Directory of Important Wetlands Australia (DIWA) wetlands;
  • High conservation value river reaches; and
  • Regional frontage ecosystems with ‘of concern’ biodiversity status; and known or predicted threatened species habitats;
  • As well as areas identified as key climate change refugia through spatial analysis and prioritization models.

1.5.3 Support the development of a regional brand for beef from sustainable grazing enterprises based on an accreditation scheme, to market as an environmentally friendly product on both local and export markets, based on completion of NRM based field studies, and ongoing assessment of grazing management by landholders, including monitoring of the results of grazing practices.

Activities:

  1. Collaborate with and actively support moves by regional food networks and economic development associations to assess the viability of a regional beef brand based on sound environmental land and livestock management.
  2. Liaise with Registered Training Organisations (RTO’s) to develop accredited training package customized for this purpose.

Partners:

  • Normanton TAFE;
  • Taste Paradise;
  • Meat and Livestock Australia;
  • Gulf Savanna Development;
  • Registered Training Organisations (RTO’s)
Performance Indicators
0%

While this initiative will continue to be led by peak bodies and regional development organisations, NGRMG can support their development. Courses may include carbon and climate related topics, weed identification and management, grass identification, fire management, animal management, biodiversity management, animal health and business management.

This accreditation could potentially also apply to a future stewardship scheme. NGRMG can be a key advisor & broker in such initiatives..

1.5.4 Explore opportunities to leverage new development for environmental offsets, and direct funds to restoring priority areas with high value biodiversity assets and climate change refugial areas.

Activities:

Maintain communication with the Qld Government development offsets programs, and promote the restoration of prioritised high value conservation areas to offset any future irrigated agriculture or mineral based development in the Northern Gulf region.

Partners:

  • Deaprtment of Environment & Heritage Protection;
  • Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries;Department of Infrastructure, Local Government & Planning (DILGP)
  • Gulf graziers;
  • Development proponents;
  • Gulf Savanna Development.
Performance Indicators
0%

This action will involve ongoing dialogue ad involvement in the development of the Strategic Offsets Investment Corridors (SOIC) from the – Qld Government, to leverage new resource-based development into strategically located environmental restoration and protections within the region. The Gulf plains and Einasliegh Uplands bioregions have both been assessed as part of this strategy.

1.5.5 Support the development of real economic opportunities for Indigenous cultural tourism and enterprises, such as eco-tourism (bush camping/ fishing, bird watching), breeding programs and plant nurseries.

Activities:

Where enlisted, support the aspirations and business plans of Aboriginal organisations in developing cultural tourism and natural resource based enterprises.

Partners:

  • Tagalaka Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Western Yalanji Corporation;
  • Wokomin people;
  • Gulf Savanna Development.
Performance Indicators
0%

Fishing and river/bush camping are existing strong attractors of tourists to the region surely coming up with management arrangements to better managed and therefore be able to promote more these activities is a clear priority for NRM investment i.e. managed river corridors, Ranger permitted camping systems. Furthermore, nature based enterprises such as native plant nurseries deliver a positive outcome in terms of remote employment and NRM services, and should be supported wherever possible.

1.5.6 Explore local employment strategies by developing a monitoring framework and protocols that are easily used by citizens to collect data across the region, including volunteers and casual employees across regional centres, to collect data on the following:

  1. to surveil biosecurity threats;
  2. water quality;
  3. biodiversity data collection.

Activities:

Negotiate with employment agencies and Biosecurity Qld regarding opportunities for casual biosecurity surveillance and data collection employment opportunities for residents in regional centres.

Partners:

  • Employment agencies (various);
  • Green Army program;
  • Australian Quarantine (AQIS).
  • Biosecurity Qld;
  • Indigenous ranger groups.

Biosecurity surveillance is best done by local people, and the prevention benefits and cost savings of this approach is evidenced by successful Land and sea ranger programs in the Gulf coasts. This approach could be replicated by sourcing funds to provide casual employment to local people in remote centres as well as subcontract Indigenous ranger groups where possible to surveil biosecurity threats and provide an early warning system to relevant agencies.

Preserve biodiversity values through improved management regimes and dedicated conservation works across tenure, and improve understanding of wildlife responses to land management practices and climate change through monitoring and research.

1.6.1 Prioritise sites of for NRM investment by assisting in the strategic and systematic expansion of the current scientific knowledge base of the Northern Gulf region’s biodiversity values, through:

  • Compilation of all available biodiversity data into thematic GIS spatial layers with linked databases;
  • The development of a consistent methodological framework for prioritising new areas for field research;
  • Identifying knowledge gaps; and
  • On this basis, recommendation of prioritised sites for new and ongoing monitoring activities.

Activities:

  1. Identify and compile all available and known biodiversity data from the Northern Gulf region;
  2. Develop a web based spatial inventory, with linked data sets. This inventory can also house water quality data (Refer to Strategy 2.1.5) and fish passage barriers data (Refer to Strategy 1.6.6).
  3. Develop a list of prioritised sites for future field research, and communicate this list to all relevant academic and research institutions.
  4. Use and maintain database to direct future investment into NRM.

Partners:

  • Qld Parks and Wildlife;
  • Nature Assist program;
  • James Cook University;
  • University of Qld;
  • Charles Darwin University;
  • NRM Spatial hub;
  • Qld Herbarium
  • Qld Wildnet
  • Department of Environment and Heritage- AquaBAMM/ Directory of Important Wetlands Australia (DIWA);
  • Qld Globe;
  • Wildnet;
  • Atlas of Living Australia.
Performance Indicators
0%

Throughout the NRM Plan there are numerous references to targeted /prioritized areas. Whilst NGRMG does not have the resources to conduct a full targeting/prioritization process, it can collate, calibrate and organize other prioritistation analysis into a spatially linked database to target ongoing investments, particularly to provide refugia for biodiversity in a more extreme, future climate. The future is uncertain so management will need to be increasingly adaptive- identify multiple options for a range of future conditions, cross check decisions with longer-term impacts on the variety of futures that may occur. This ongoing process will require a coherent framework to collate all available data into a central location on an ongoing basis.

Supporting these monitoring and data collection efforts will be particularly important in the context of a changing climate, to better understand the feedbacks and damages that climate events are having on the region’s biodiversity. Some possible, anticipated impacts may include:

Longer dry seasons, including extended droughts

  • Changes in abundance of some trees, due to declines from drought induced dieback (eg. Ironbarks & boxwoods more susceptible that sub-dominant bloodwoods). However, unlikely to completely alter ecosystems because of survival and recruitment of saplings into the canopy.

Increased intensity of high rainfall events (flood and cyclone) will effect:

  • A reduction of seed resources for some species;
  • Loss of shelter and food resources for some species such as small mammals;
  • Potential reduction in vulnerable species habitat (such as the Northern Bettong) if rainfall increases;
  • Loss of fruit and flower species may impact on flying fox communities; wider dispersal of can toads into more areas;

Inundation could affect species composition within ecosystems, promoting those that can germinate and grow quickly with brief rainfall events, especially annuals.

1.6.2 Continue to develop and implement conservation strategies on Nature Refuges, protected areas and targeted areas identified as “key refugia” through the following:

  • Provide material and technical support to pastoral landholders to control feral animals (particularly feral cat and pig impacts) and noxious weeds (e.g. fencing, baiting and chemical costs);
  • Encourage land managers to reduce grazing pressure on ecosystem assets in targeted areas, thus maintaining:
  1. a diversity of ground layer species through allowing seeding of grasses and forbs which provides food resources;
  2. adequate ground cover which will reduce erosion and provide shelter for wildlife;
  • Encourage fire regimes designed to promote recruitment of native flora and maintain essential habitat for native fauna;
  • Demonstrate merits of integrated management approaches for maintaining and improving condition of different habitats via learning sites and communications;
  • Integration of sound conservation principles with sound economic management; and
  • Ongoing monitoring of trends and conditions, and responses to change in climate and management interventions.

Activities:

  1. Continue to work with the 25 existing Nature Refuges in the Northern Gulf region, and target conservation and native habitat restoration activities here, including monitoring the extent and impact of feral cats (including cat autopsies), and trialing any control measures here;
  2. Approach Etheridge Shire Council about making Cumberland dam into a NaConservation reserve or protected area;
  3. Continue to provide technical and material support to landholders to create conservation areas on their properties.

Partners:

  • Biosecurity Qld;
  • Qld Herbarium;
  • Etheridge Shire Council;
  • Croydon Shire Council;
  • Mareeba Shire Council;
  • Carpentaria Shire Council;
  • Gulf graziers.
  • Charles Darwin University;
  • James Cook University.
Performance Indicators
0%

This action builds on the successful Nature refuge program hosted by NGRMG. Existing Nature refuges have been identified through a rigourous prioritization process, which includes the importance of the sites biodiversity values, including the presence of endangered and vulnerable species, and habitat contributions to improving connectivity, and refugia during climate related stresses such as drought. Furthermore the Nature refuge status provides some tenure security. This process provides investment confidence that Nature refuge sites are important places to focus conservation works, to improve the resilience of biodiversity to climate change. Therefore, NGRMG is committed to focusing continued effort into improving existing Nature refuges, of which there are currently 25 in number across the Northern Gulf region, and encouraging other areas identified as  “key refugia” to be also included in some form of protected area.

1.6.3 Further develop material and financial incentives to encourage the establishment of conservation agreements and other protected area arrangements for high value biodiversity assets on privately managed land, on the basis of:

  • Consulting with land owners hosting these sites to identify what form and level of incentives would engage them to support formal inclusion of sites in protected area management arrangements across the spectrum from nature refuges to conservation parks; and
  • Using consultation feedback to develop an effective incentives program in conjunction with state conservation agencies;
  • Initiate a dedicated program to secure high value biodiversity assets in such arrangements on private land where appropriate & practical;
  • Identify and prioritise specific properties which contain high value biodiversity assets;
  • Develop regional definitions of the Northern Gulf’s high conservation value ecosystems and biodiversity assets to guide investment ;
  • Encourage land managers on prioritised sites to consider including these areas in a protected area, through the application of an incentives program developed on the basis of aforementioned consultation.

Activities:

  1. Develop a basic template and survey all 25 existing Nature Refuge landholders in the Northern Gulf region.
  2. Develop a suite of communications and resources aimed at promoting the Nature Refuges program, with the aim of further recruitment of more Conservation agreements

Partners:

  • Cape York NRM;
  • Nature Assist (DEH);
  • Qld Herbarium;
  • Qld parks and wildlife;
  • Traditional Owners;
  • Gulf graziers.
  • Qld Herbarium
  • Qld Wildnet
  • Department of Environment and Heritage- AquaBAMM/ Directory of Important Wetlands Australia (DIWA).
Performance Indicators
0%

High conservation biodiversity assets could include high conservation value riverine corridors and off-river wetlands, DIWA wetland aggregations; springs and other groundwater dependent ecosystems, ‘endangered’ or ‘of concern’ regional ecosystems; and known or predicted threatened species habitats.

In conjunction with agencies and R&D providers, NGRMG will assist in a prioritization process to guide NRM investments intended to deliver biodiversity dividends on new conservation areas, and develop tailored incentives and support to prospective land holders whose properties contain high biodiversity values.

Using scientific climate projections to identify areas where the landscape will always be suitable for various native species will help prioritise these sites. Spatial analysis of refugia values of the Northern Gulf region both in terms of current status and under future climate change scenarios, indicate that the upper Mitchell, including the Palmer catchment and the headwaters of Maddigan’s creek, as well as parts of the Mitchell river fan aggregation, and eastern parts of the Einasleigh Uplands, are priorty areas to focus on for conservation and biodiversity protection. The Gulf coastal area also contains some high value, priority areas for this type of arrangement.

1.6.4 Establish a number of permanent fauna survey sites to collect baseline data, based on a prioritisation framework to identify suitable sites including the following considerations:

  • Representative of a range of vegetation types and sub-IBRA regions;
  • Management regimes and tenure;
  • Areas which are poorly understood and researched to date, particularly within the Gulf plains bioregion;
  • Regional ecosystem status;
  • Vulnerability to expected climate change;
  • Different habitats (stratified sites);
  • Occurrence of endangered and threatened species; and
  • Areas identified as possibly refugia.

By re-visiting these sites, develop a landscape assessment of habitat and ecological condition, trialing a combination of the following:

  • Ants as bio-indicators across the region, representing different sub-IBRA ecosystems;
  • Camera traps;
  • Bio-acoustic monitoring; and
  • Traditional field survey methods.

Activities:

Aim to establish a network of monitoring sites across the Northern Gulf region (≥20) sites, focusing on existing Nature Refuge sites and protected areas, as well as a network of sites under different management regimes (stocking rates, fire regimes etc). Possible sites include Bulleringa, Cobbold Gorge & Blackbraes National Park due to their high conservation value and projected resilience to climate change.

Partners:

  • Qld Parks and Wildlife;
  • Nature Assist program;
  • Qld Globe;
  • Wildnet;
  • Atlas of Living Australia.

Due to a paucity of knowledge, there should also be strong emphasis on innovative and improved sampling techniques, such as camera traps, acoustic monitoring, time lapse cameras and genomic research.

The use of ants as bio-indicators is becoming increasingly more popular in Australia. The colonization of ant communities can inform researchers of the condition of the soil and change in ecological conditions through cost effective and efficient methods.

Supporting these monitoring and data collection efforts will be particularly important in the context of a changing climate, to better understand the feedbacks and damages that climate events are having on the region’s biodiversity. Some possible, anticipated impacts may include:

Longer dry seasons, including extended droughts

  • Changes in abundance of some trees, due to declines from drought induced dieback (eg. Ironbarks & boxwoods more susceptible that sub-dominant bloodwoods). However, unlikely to completely alter ecosystems because of survival and recruitment of saplings into the canopy.

Increased intensity of high rainfall events (flood and cyclone) will effect:

  • A reduction of seed resources for some species;
  • Loss of shelter and food resources for some species such as small mammals;
  • Potential reduction in vulnerable species habitat (such as the Northern Bettong) if rainfall increases;
  • Loss of fruit and flower species may impact on flying fox communities; wider dispersal of can toads into more areas;

Inundation could affect species composition within ecosystems, promoting those that can germinate and grow quickly with brief rainfall events, especially annuals.

1.6.5 Provide material and technical support to reduce erosion, weed and pest impacts and protect ecological values of freshwater habitat by:

  • Controlling access along or around priority riparian areas, wetlands, springs and swamps throughout the Northern Gulf region through fencing these sites;
  • Integrated fire and weed control for fenced/managed areas;
  • Providing alternative watering points to reduce cattle damage to these areas;
  • Encouraging landowners to exclude stock from riparian areas during environmentally sensitive times, such as after floods or fire, thus stimulating seed release and germination in riparian communities and are opportunities for the riparian vegetation community to renew itself; and
  • Following up visits to monitor the impacts and effectiveness of these works.

Activities:

  1. Provide material support (matched dollar for dollar from land holder) for riparian fencing and off-stream watering points, thus protecting a target of 500km of riparian frontage;
  2. Schedule follow-up visits and monitoring of all riparian fencing investments;
  3. Work with Qld Parks and Wildlife towards fencing off wetlands in Blackbraes National Park;
  4. Identify other high value wetlands and springs and work with landholders to fence these off;
  5. Work with land managers to ensure animal nutrition is supplemented from the loss of frontage pasture.

Partners:

  • Cape York NRM;
  • Nature Assist (DEH);
  • Traditional Owners;
  • Gulf graziers.
  • Department of Environment and Heritage- AquaBAMM/ Directory of Important Wetlands Australia (DIWA);
  • Mt Surprise Station;
  • Van Lee Station;
  • Rocky springs station;
  • Tallaroo Station;
  • Whitewater station;
  • Qld Parks and Wildlife.
Performance Indicators
0%

This action could also integrate with actions 1.2.3 for erosion management. The package of these actions could form an important component of an integrated land management plan, and depending on how things pan out of a regional stewardship program (1.5.2). Areas with high levels of recreational use e.g. parts of Mitchell, Norman, could be targeted for appropriate management of recreational use/4WD tourist access/camping area management.

 Priority areas include the stretch of Einasliegh river in the Einsaleigh Uplands (an identified biodiversity hotspot of national significance) between Undara and Bulleringa National Parks, which will effectively protect a 200km of riparian frontage over the course of five pastoral properties (some riparian areas are already partially fenced).

Climate change could have severe impacts on riparian and freshwater habitat through the following:

Increased intensity of high rainfall events (floods and cyclones) could reduce the diversity & abundance of ground dwelling species along waterways and in floodplains and an increased activity of toads which have greater resilience than native frogs. This could also result in more sustained inundation of floodplains resulting in reduced cover (during recovery period) and impacts to resilience and carrying capacity of associated vegetation communities; and changed connectivity/ inundation patterns altering waterhole community composition.

Increased incidence of destructive wildfires pose risks to aquatic biodiversity such as:

  • Loss of fire sensitive plant (and associated fauna) species from regional ecosystems associated with the alluvial zone;
  • Impacts to the condition and functionality of dry season aquatic refugia including enhanced prospect of critical water quality impacts in late dry season/ wet season initiation period (via reduced shading, elevated temperature, reduced dissolved oxygen, elevated turbidity, eutrophication’s) with concomitant impacts to biodiversity.
  • Reduced viability of aestivation habitat utilized by freshwater long-neck turtles;
  • Reduced carrying capacity and nursery function for impacted floodplain ad main channel habitats utilized by fishery associated species.

Therefore, protected valuable wetland and riparian habitat will be very important as predicted climate change impacts intensify.

1.6.6 Assist in maintaining the natural passage of fish through the following:

  • Development of GIS based inventory of fish passage barriers within Gulf River basins;
  • Conduct barrier independent assessments of passage effectiveness;
  • Where relevant, collaborate with fishery managers to conduct assessments of effectiveness of fish and catadromous crustacean (e.g. cherabin) passage provision at existing and rectified barrier sites;
  • Use results to confirm adequacy of existing passage provision and/or to highlight structures requiring removal;
  • Work with local government to remove fish passage barriers where practical and affordable; and

Seek proponent commitments to effective fish barrier mitigation in new water resource infrastructure development proposed for Northern Gulf Rivers.

Activities:

  1. Develop an inventory of fish passage barriers across the region;
  2. Identify strategic and cost effective barrier removal projects, and liaise with local government and funding bodies for resources to remove these;
  3. Seek to provide community representation and advocacy for adoption of the most effective fish passage solutions available for new or revamped instream water infrastructure development within the region (possibly via proposed NRM Working group proposed in 1.9.2.)

Partners: 

  • Department of Environment and Heritage- AquaBAMM/ Directory of Important Wetlands Australia (DIWA);
  • CSIRO;
  • Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries;
  • Mareeba Shire Council;
  • Etheridge Shire Council;
  • Croydon Shire Coucil;
  • Carpentaria Shire Council;
  • Cook Shire Council;
  • Water resource development proponents;
  • Mitchell River Watershed Management Group
Performance Indicators
0%

There are a range of instream structures from road crossings to dam walls that create fish passage barriers with varying levels of impact on aquatic biodiversity and freshwater fishery resources within the Northern Gulf. Comprehensive regional information on these barriers is a prerequisite for co-ordinated management. Dedicate resources to the compilation of a GIS based inventory of fish passage barriers within Gulf River basins utilising available road and water infrastructure layers to depict barriers across high to low order streams within regional drainage networks. Utilising published information, field assessment and fishery resource distribution mapping and threatened aquatic species occurrence mapping, identify levels of impact/threat associated with identified barriers and develop a prioritised works program for barrier rectification.

Mitigation of fish passage barrier impacts associated with current water resource development proposals depends to some degree upon fish way technical capacity and regional community advocacy for inclusion of effective fish way designs.

Preserving fresher water fisheries and facilitating their breeding cycles and passage will build their resilience to possible climate change impacts, which could include:

Increased atmospheric CO2 concentration and acidification of rain and surface waters could have the following impacts:

  • Increased mortality of fish larvae and juveniles may result from acidification effects on sensory systems and behavior, leading to decline in recruitment to adult populations;

Reduced aerobic capacity in some fish due to acidification could exacerbate other climate change impact (eg. Dissolved oxygen).

Support the aspirations of Indigenous people in returning to their traditional lands as natural resource managers through a range of enterprises, programs and initiatives.

1.7.1 Support Traditional Owners to better regulate tourism to reduce impacts on country and sacred sites, by:

  • Preventing the stealing of artefacts through no-go zones;
  • Regulating access to sacred areas;
  • Developing education material and signage;
  • Encouraging Traditional Owner presence on country; and
  • Developing cultural tourism opportunities, where rangers take tourists out on country.

Activities:

When enlisted, provide technical, material and in principle support and assist in leveraging funding for the following:

  • Traditional Owners in representing concerns regarding visitor impacts on their country;
  • Interpretative signage of natural and cultural values for visitors;
  • Indigenous management of regulated access and permit scheme to culturally significant sites.

Partners:

  • Alliance for Northern Gulf Indigenous Corporation (ANGIC);
  • Jawiyabba Warra Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Tagalaka Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Chillagoe Aboriginal community.
Performance Indicators
0%

NGRMG will support and assist Indigenous initiatives to better manage tourism impacts on their traditional lands, whilst providing culturally appropriate forms of employment and revenue to Aboriginal communities, and enabling Traditional owners return to country.

1.7.2 Support Traditional Owners to regain, maintain, share and hand down cultural knowledge to succeeding generations, through the continued support the mapping of story/sacred places and initiatives to preserve traditional languages.

Activities:

When enlisted, provide technical, material and in principle support and assist in leveraging funding for the following:

  • Indigenous language resources, such as books, CD’s, music and workshops.
  • Arts projects promoting Indigenous traditional and contemporary cultural product;
  • Mapping of cultural values and significant sites.

Partners:

  • Alliance for Northern Gulf Indigenous Corporation (ANGIC);
  • Western Yalanji Corporation;
  • Tagalaka Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Wokomin people..
Performance Indicators
0%
This action represents a commitment to continued traditional knowledge preservation and traditional language preservation initiatives.

1.7.3 Support existing Indigenous ranger programs, and encourage and support new and emerging Indigenous ranger groups to:

  • Undertake on ground works towards improving environmental health;
  • Work within National Parks as guides; and
  • Collaborate with the land managers of pastoral and mining leases.

Activities:

  1. When enlisted, provide technical, material and in principle support and assist in leveraging funding for the expansion of existing Indigenous ranger programs, and assist in the establishment of new Indigenous ranger units.
  2. Where ever possible, engage the services of Indigenous rangers as the preferred and most appropriate service provider to conduct on ground environmental works.

Partners:

  • Alliance for Northern Gulf Indigenous Corporation (ANGIC);
  • Western Yalanji Corporation;
  • Tagalaka Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Wokomin people;
  • Indigenous Enterprise Development (Australian Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet);
  • Qld Department of Education & Training.
Performance Indicators
0%

Indigenous rangers programs provide employment opportunities in remote communities while significantly increasing on ground NRM capacity. The maintenance and expansion of these programs is fully and actively supported by NGRMG.

1.7.4Continue to strengthen country based plans, strategic planning and governance of Aboriginal organisations, as vehicles to build the capacity of Traditional owners to have increased access to country, undertake recreational activities, implement conservation and land management measures, and record the cultural and natural values of country.

Activities:

Continue to contribute to a strong foundation of Indigenous-driven strategies, country-based planning and governance of Aboriginal organisations as a basis of realising Indigenous aspirations for country, by assisting in leveraging funding to expand and update existing plans, and develop new plans where none currently exist, and plan/ strategy implementation.

Partners:

  • Alliance for Northern Gulf Indigenous Corporation (ANGIC);
  • Western Yalanji Corporation;
  • Tagalaka Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Wokomin people;
  • Indigenous Enterprise Development (Australian Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet)
Performance Indicators
0%

Through the NRM planning engagement process, NGRMG assisted in/ contributed to the development of 6 new strategic/ country based plans and the review of 2 existing plans. These efforts will continue, to provide a basis of strong foundation governance and strategic direction upon which Indigenous aspirations can spring board.

1.7.5 Support and facilitate opportunities for Indigenous rangers and young adults to gain skills by participating in biodiversity fauna surveys, and weed survey and eradication work.

Activities:

  1. Where enlisted, provide material and technical support for training opportunities for Indigenous rangers and youth.
  2. Where ever possible, engage the services of Indigenous rangers as the preferred and most appropriate service provider to conduct on ground environmental works;
  3. Support the development of “Junior ranger” programs for children.

Partners:

  • Alliance for Northern Gulf Indigenous Corporation (ANGIC);
  • Jawiyabba Warra Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Western Yalanji Corporation;
  • Tagalaka Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Wokomin people.
  • Qld Department of Education & Training.
Performance Indicators
0%

Building the skills and capacity of young Traditional owners as next generation land managers in essential to the maintenance of culture and heritage. Employment opportunities should be investigated and established where ever possible to engage young Traditional owners in skills development and on ground NRM works. Junior rangers programs could be developed to facilitate this action.

1.7.6 Continue to assist in the sustainable development of Aboriginal-managed lands.

Activities:

Where enlisted, provide in principle support for the acquisition of land by Traditional Owners and Aboriginal organisations, and funds permitted provide material and technical support to the sustainable development of land currently under Indigenous management.

Partners:

  • Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Wild river rangers;
  • Jawiyabba Warra Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Chillagoe Aboriginal community.
  • Talaroo, Bulimba, Oriners, Powis, Bonny Glen and Kondaparinga stations.
Performance Indicators
0%

Enterprises and land management initiatives on Aboriginal owner lands throughout the Northern Gulf region is actively supported.  Traditional owners are entitled to water allocations from Gulf rivers, which may be a key strategic resource in supporting this development.

Embrace a whole of community, multi-generational approach to building NRM capacity and promoting environmental awareness.

1.8.1 Promote ecological literacy and a stewardship ethos in the younger generation by developing classroom resources, curriculum material, and hosting excursions and events which relate to the dry tropical savanna environment of the Northern Gulf, through the following:

  • Develop wildlife awareness communication tools including posters and wall charts, species identification guides, and classroom resources;
  • Disseminate news and relevant educational resources to teachers, parents and students;
  • Continue to engage school children in environmental education activities and events;
  • Provide training and mentoring opportunities to Gulf youth.

Activities:

  1. Print and disseminate wildlife posters to all schools and students of the Gulf;
  2. Provide education material which simplify complex ecological principles like modified trophic webs, vegetation succession patterns, edge effects and biodiversity opportunities in marginalized landscapes.
  3. Identify relevant environmental education resources and publish newsletter and use web based communications;
  4. Coordinate a program of regional events, including the annual Gulf Kids Environment Day in Croydon;
  5. Continue to contribute NRM related activities to the annual Camp Cobbold;
  6. Provide a NRM based training opportunity for Gulf youth (15-20 years old) annually

Partners:

  • Local primary schools (Mt Surprise, Chillagoe, Georgetown, Forsayth, Croydon);
  • Education Qld;
  • James Cook University;
  • Mareeba Agriculture College;
  • Schools of distance education.
Performance Indicators
0%

There is a well-recognized dearth of environmental education resources in dry tropical savannas of Northern Australia, which could be provided to school children to promote awareness of their local environment. NGRMG has tried to address this by developing educational resources and events tailored to remote Gulf school communities, to engage children in environmental education. In a recent community survey conducted by NGRMG (2015) this program rated as #2 top most supported activity, so clearly has wide community support.

1.8.2 Develop opportunities for citizen science, via volunteers, tourists, local residents, students and amateur field naturalists in the Northern Gulf region to participate in the collection of field data across the region.

Activities:

  1. Continue to host and coordinate the field naturalists’ camps over a range of land types and grazing properties, twice per year, resulting in 10 camps from a period of 2016-2021.
  2. Liaise with universities with the aim of collaborating in the development of tertiary field studies in the Northern Gulf region;
  3. Liaise with tour operators and caravan parks to attract visitors to field naturalist camps.

Partners:

  • Employment agencies (various);
  • Green Nomads;
  • Wildnet;
  • Atlas of Living Australia;
  • Universities (various);
  • Tourism operators;
  • Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia.
Performance Indicators
0%

This action represents a commitment to continuing the field naturalist’s camps on remote stations to engage naturalists and volunteers in rapid surveys, and where funds permit an expansion of this program. There is potential to expand these activities by attracting tertiary field studies to the region via collaboration for both Australian and international universities. “Grey nomad” visitors to the region could also be engaged in these activities.

1.8.3 Develop a hub of ‘Savanna Knowledge’ to:

  • Distill scientific knowledge through key messages that can be used for interpretive purposes.
  • Present information in a range of accessible media forms (including websites and apps) to inform both visitors and residents of the unique environmental qualities of the Gulf savanna; and
  • Contribute display material to existing information centres and tourist facilities.

Activities:

  1. Develop a communications package distilling key NRM messages about the dry tropical savanna country of the Northern Gulf, for visitors to the region;
  2. Develop a suite of web based and hard copy (posters and handouts) communications to reinforce these messages;
  3. Contribute display materials to each of the visitors centres of the Northern Gulf;
  4. Develop a regionally specific, environmental awareness “mirco-documentary” series for display in tourist facilities and relevant websites across the region.

Partners:

  • Etheridge Shire Council;
  • Croydon Shire Council;
  • Carpentaria Shire Council;
  • Mareeba Shire Council;
  • Gulf Savanna Development;
  • Savannah Guides;
  • Tourism Cape York;
  • Tourism associations (various).
  • Georgetown Terrestrial centre,
  • Croydon True Blue Centre, Chillagoe Hub;
  • Bedrock Village in Mt Surprise
  • Undara Experience;
  • Cobbold Gorge.
Performance Indicators
0%

Visitors to the Northern Gulf region number in the tens of thousands every year. Engaging these visitors with key messages on the unique qualities, key ecological characteristics, values and vulnerabilities of the Northern Gulf’s dry tropical savanna environment provides a basis for imbruing greater commitment to ecological awareness and environmentally responsible behavior for both residents and visitors alike. Existing tourist facilities and visitors centres provide an excellent network and infrastructure to focus these efforts.

1.8.4 Support the strengthening and expansion of rural women’s networks through events and communications.

Activities:

  1. Continue to provide in principle and material support to rural women’s events, and facilitate women’s networks throughout the Gulf, with the aim of hosting or sponsoring one rural women’s event per annum, resulting in 5 events across the Northern Gulf region from 2016-2021.
  2. Identify resources and opportunities for the advancement and capacity building of rural women and disseminate through NGRMG communication network.

Partners:

  • Resourcing Women of the North committee;
  • National Rural Women’s Coalition;
  • Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation;
Performance Indicators
0%

This action represents a continued commitment to recognizing the role of rural women as community leaders and NRM champions through promoting and supporting Rural women’s networks including events on an annual basis throughout the region, through the Resourcing Women of the North committee.

1.8.5 Collaborate with existing networks to engage new sectors such (e.g. rural banks, rural agents) on NRM issues and forge linkages and networks with these industries to disseminate key NRM messages.

Activities:

Participate in industry forums and association meetings of finance, retail, insurance and tourist sectors with an interest and influence in the Northern Gulf region (at least one per annum), with the aim of fostering an NRM ethos and understanding throughout the entire community and economy.

Partners:

  • Gulf Cattleman’s association;
  • Elders;
  • Finance institutions;
  • Industry associations.
Performance Indicators
0%

This action represents a commitment to expand our networks into new sectors and professional communities in the Grazing lands supply chain, such as rural finance, services & supplies sectors to disseminate an NRM ethos and awareness on a whole of community level.

1.8.6 Recognise the tourism sector as key NRM educators and disseminators of knowledge, and collaborate with them in efforts to provide environmental interpretation and realise new eco-tourism ventures.

Activities:

Provide a tourism summit to discuss regional initiatives to promote environmental awareness and literacy to visitors to the region through tourism, possibly in conjunction with the Savannah guides school.

Partners:

  • Tour operators (various);
  • Savannah Guides;
  • Gulf Savanna Development.
Performance Indicators
0%

Tourist operators are ideally suited and connected to provide environmental education and interpretation to visitors to the Northern Gulf. This action represents a commitment to call a summit of Northern Gulf tour operators to canvas ideas and potential initiatives as the basis for future NRM/ tourism partnerships.

Promote and facilitate viable, sustainable and equitable practices and models for emerging irrigated agricultural industries which support healthy environmental flows into the Gulf of Carpentaria.

1.9.1 Provide communication channels, available to all community and industry stakeholders, to deliberate and ensure long term sustainability concerns are represented in future water resource development planning, including catchment scale and downstream impacts. 

Activities:

Facilitate a summit in Croydon or Normanton, including scientific panels with relevant experts, in which all stakeholders are represented- including development proponents, Traditional Owners, commercial and recreational fishing industries, conservation interests, pastoralists, general community and all tiers of government.

Partners:

  • DNR&M;
  • Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF)
  • Coastal communities;
  • Coastal Traditional Owners;
  • Tagalaka Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Development proponents;
  • Local government;
  • GoCCFA;
  • Fish Portal;
  • Commercial fishers
  • Recreational fishers;
  • Gilbert River Agricultural Precinct Group;
  • Land managers of the Gilbert catchment;
  • Conservation groups;
  • Local communities;
  • Agribusiness (various).
  • Gulf Cattleman’s association.
Performance Indicators
0%

NGRMG’s charter is to work with natural resource based industries to ensure environmental best practice in the region. Plans for new irrigated agriculture in the Gilbert river catchment and secondarily the Mitchell river catchment present an opportunity to innovate and implement sustainable best practice at the establishment stage.

A key theme which emerged from the NRM Planning engagement process is that coastal communities including Traditional owners and commercial fisherman are deeply concerned about the impacts of water resource development which is proposed for further up in the catchment. These communities feel very under consulted by government and industry. However, many residents in the Etheridge Shire communities see irrigated agriculture as an economic & employment opportunity for the region, which will diversify the region and provide valuable infrastructure and investment. Therefore, NGRMG seeks to facilitate a forum which engages all stakeholders (community, government, industry and conservation) and provides for all perspectives to verify, deliberate and mitigate the impacts of development, whilst maintaining the value it may bring to the region.

1.9.2 Coordinate an “Agricultural Industry Sustainable NRM Working Group”, with representation from relevant industry bodies, landholders and Government agencies via the proposal to develop:

  • A targeted water quality monitoring program in agricultural catchments;
  • Best management practice trials; and
  • Monitoring of land condition;
  • Climate change impacts and trends.

Activities:

Initiate and coordinate regular communications for Agricultural Industry Sustainable NRM Working Group, which considers how impacts of irrigated agriculture in the Gilbert catchment can be mitigated to achieve sustainable development of the land and water resource.

Partners:

  • Qld Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNR&M);Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF)
  • Coastal communities;
  • Coastal Traditional Owners;
  • Tagalaka Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Development proponents;
  • Local government;
  • GoCCFA;
  • Fish Portal;
  • Commercial fishers
  • Recreational fishers;
  • Land managers of the Gilbert catchment;
  • Conservation groups;
  • Local communities.
  • Gulf Cattleman’s association.
Performance Indicators
0%

To maintain a focus on sustainable NRM within the context of proposed irrigated development in the Gilbert catchment, this action proposes that NGRMG convenes a sustainable NRM working group, representing all sectors with a stake in this development, to meet semi-regularly to discuss potential impacts and means to mitigate them, to contribute to the sustainable development of this natural resource.

Longer dry season projected will create greater resource demands for human/ agricultural uses with impact to residual available for environmental allocations. There is also potential for great losses due to high evaporation rates of stored water.

Projected climate change also presents the following threats to water resource development:

  1. Increased intensity and/or magnitude of high rainfall events (floods and cyclones) will potentially enhance rates of refilling of water supply storages to full supply levels ensuring for environmental allocations, however these extreme events are expected to be more intense but less regular and further apart. These high rainfall events may damage irrigation infrastructure.

Longer dry seasons and higher temperatures may result in high water losses due to high evaporation rates of stored water.

1.9.3 Establish a dedicated agricultural catchments program in the Gilbert catchment, which incorporates:

  • best management practices for minimising contaminant loads and hydrological impacts associated with intensive agricultural catchment runoff and irrigation tailwater;
  • early detection program on the basis of a range of environmental indicators, including salinity profiles, water quality and soil condition;
  • Monitoring the impacts of climate change on water impoundments and environmental flows.

Activities:

If proposals for the expansion of irrigated agriculture in the Gilbert catchment are approved and go into an operational phase, seek funding for the establishment of an agricultural extension program with a field officer based in Georgetown, by replicating elements of the successful Tropical Agriculture Program model operating in the MDIA, and customizing it to the Gilbert catchment.

Partners:

  • Qld Department of Natural Resources and Mines;Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF)
  • Coastal communities;
  • Coastal Traditional Owners;
  • Tagalaka Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Development proponents;
  • Local government;
  • GoCCFA;
  • Fish Portal;
  • Commercial fishers
  • Recreational fishers;
  • Land managers of the Gilbert catchment;
  • Conservation groups;
  • Local communities;
  • Gulf Cattleman’s association.
Performance Indicators
0%

Should approval for intensive, irrigated development be granted them agricultural extension officer based out of Georgetown should engage new irrigators in efficiencies, environmental mitigation measures and good NRM outcomes, working in close collaboration with NGRMG’s Tropical Agriculture Program and replicating elements of this program.

Utilisation of uploadable, instantaneous water quality monitoring probes (nutrients, salinity, turbidity +) is specifically recommended for monitoring and reporting of BMP trials (RE: irrigation methods/practices, fertiliser application, pesticide use, tillage practices) to sub catchment stakeholders (Trialled in Lower Burdekin Basin irrigation areas). Whilst water volumes are currently being monitored by relevant agencies, there is no monitoring of pH, electrical conductivity and turbidity. Current and potential water resource development in the Gilbert catchment should require ongoing monitoring of all these elements, which will provide real-time indicators of salinity and erosion from land clearing. NGRMG is ideally positioned to undertake this monitoring.

This action also applies to Northern Tablelands action – 2.1.13

Undertake a social research project to determine the reasons for the lack of adoption of grazing best management practices.
Undertake a research project to investigate the abundance and distribution of cats within the Northern Gulf region and a comparison between other regions, including:

  • The role of feral cats in the apparent decline of small to medium sized mammals across the Northern Gulf region;
  • The effectiveness of control measures (i.e. shooting, baiting) on managing feral cat populations; and
  • The influence of fire and grazing regimes in facilitating predation by and movements of the feral cat.
Conduct research on the abundance and distribution of the northern quoll in the Northern Gulf region, including the impacts of: Feral cats; Cane toads; and pastoral and land management practices.
Weed management in the region is currently driven by a species-led prioritisation process. Need to determine and incorporate the complexity of ecological processes of weed spread and establishment, and take account of the values and assets in the landscape and identify the most cost-effective responses to emerging weeds vs high-cost eradication/control programs for WONs.
Need for more baseline biodiversity monitoring.
Develop practical models for joint management of areas of high biodiversity value (how to get an economic and management model that improves biodiversity).
Ecosystem service payments future – how to manage this?
What is the impact of introduced grass species on native species’ distribution and densities?
Determine the limits of distribution of the ‘isolated’ population of greater gliders in Blackbraes National Park. Involving locals to identify the population viability of this isolated cohort (John Winter).
What are the likely impacts of forecast demographic change on natural resource management systems in the region?

Demographics include:

  • Settlement patterns
  • Aging farmers
  • Foreign ownership
  • Succession
Identify if true income can be generated from a ‘conservation economy’ (e.g. tourism potential, potential to harvest and raise native parrot/ cockatoo chicks for international trade, native grass seed collection). If the public wish to keep northern Australian landscapes intact how can communities develop economies to have comparable wealth to areas that have been ‘allowed’ to develop?
How effective or perverse is environmental law in remote areas? Many laws seem to be developed for higher population centre issues; are they cost prohibitive or nonsensical in remote areas?