About the Northern Tablelands

The Northern Tablelands is a mixed use rural area, with large parts under agricultural cultivation, interspersed with small acreage lifestyle properties and country towns, located in the Upper Mitchell river catchment,which straddles western shed of the Great dividing range. This area supports around 30 tropical agricultural crops, including bananas, sugar cane, mangoes, avocados and citrus industries of the includes the Mareeba-Dimbulah Irrigation Area (MDIA), serviced by the townships of Dimbulah and Mutchilba, and the western extents of the Mareeba and Biboohra districts. The region also includes a large population of “peri-urban” residents on small acreage lots, particularly in the Julatten/Mt Molloy area and the bush communities in Irvinebank and Watsonville. The Northern Tablelands supports a great diversity of regional ecosystems and biodiversity, as it straddles the three bioregions of the Wet Tropics, the Einasleigh Uplands and Cape York, and contains important landscape scale linkages for biodiversity, spanning a mosaic of wet tropical rainforests, open eucalypt woodlands and dry savannah country, and including a network of important riparian corridors and waterways.

Our Goals

The Northern Tablelands of the Upper Mitchell catchment will have prosperous, efficient and diverse agricultural industries supported by healthy, fertile soils. The water quality and riparian health of the Walsh River catchment is protected from degradation caused by erosion, topsoil loss and elevated nutrient loads. Engaged communities in rural towns, commercial farms and on small acreages, maintain strong collaborative networks that contribute to healthy ecosystems which support abundant biodiversity.
Support intensive agricultural industries to regenerate their natural resource base and improve sustainability in the Mareeba-Dimbulah Irrigation Area (MDIA).

2.1.1 Assist the farming community to build skills and knowledge in sustainable agriculture, climate change resilience and NRM, by providing:

  • Property mapping, spatial information, precision agriculture and surveying and spatial technology & monitoring extension services;
  • One-on-one extension to growers, identifying opportunities for more sustainable land management practices together with improved farm system efficiencies.
  • Information, mentoring and training services to farmers and agribusinesses through workshops and tailored communications.

Activities:

  1. Provide extension services to a minimum of 10 farmers per annum in the MDIA, resulting in 50 farmers engaged in farm efficiency savings over a period from 2016-2021.
  2. Coordinate two workshops per year for agribusiness (e.g. irrigation suppliers, rural agents), resulting in 10 workshops savings over a period from 2016-2021.
  3. Develop and communicate two case studies per annum to promote and profile on-farm learning and trials in the MDIA, resulting in 10 case studies over a period from 2016-2021.

Partners:

  • Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF)
  • Mareeba District Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (MDFVGA).
  • Tablelands Canegrowers;
  • Tablelands famers.
Performance Indicators
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This action represents a commitment to continuing and expanding the highly successful Tropical Agriculture Program, developed by NGRMG for growers of the MDIA. By focusing on achieving input efficiencies associated with tropical agriculture through one on one extension and support to selected growers, this approach delivers real cost savings to the farmer whilst delivering an NRM outcome for the environment. The program has been expanded to target irrigation suppliers and rural agents further up the agricultural supply chain.

These strategies will become even more relevant and important in light of the imminent threat of climate change impacts, due to the following risks on agriculture and soil fertility:

  • Increased incidence of destructive wildfire will potentially degrade top soil & reduce soil organic matter, which could be further exacerbated by heavy rainfall events;
  • Increased intensity of high rainfall events (flood and cyclones) create the risk of rising ground waters and subsequent land degradation, as well as erode poorly drained sandy soils. This will lead to a possible increased risk of soil degradation if exposed by high erosion. Furthermore, water logging of some soils can impact on agricultural productivity through the leaching of nutrients or rising saline ground waters and impact on agricultural production by limiting machinery access.

Irrigation efficiencies may become even more important under climate change forecasts as variability in stream flow could threaten irrigated agricultural production due to unreliability of irrigation water due to unreliability of rainfall, in the event of longer predicted dry seasons. The continued warming of temperatures (including more hot days) may reduce yields in some crops on some soil types also.

2.1.2 Provide material and technical support to agricultural producers along the upper Mitchell/Walsh catchment for the establishment of learning/ demonstration sites of the following:

  1. Riparian vegetation on tail water drains as a means of mitigating water quality impacts (elevated nutrients, turbidity, low dissolved oxygen) on downstream receiving wetlands and to provide riparian habitat values within mono-cultural landscapes;
  2. Artificial wetland retention basins in irrigated agricultural areas;
  3. Stream or wetland remnant riparian habitat rehabilitation and management;
  4. Capture and reuse of water in tail water drains;
  5. On farm water capture and recycling systems;
  6. Onsite renewable energy generation for conveying water on farms.

Activities:

  1. Identify suitable sites and willing landholders to provide a demonstration site for all six items listed above, in the MDIA, resulting in six “learning sites”.
  2. Develop video and web based communications to profile the learning sites, including costs and outcomes (positive and negative).

Partners:

  • Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF)
  • Qld Department of Natural Resources and Mines;
  • Mareeba District Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (MDFVGA);
  • Mitchell River Watershed Management Group (MRWMG);
  • Sunwater;
  • Tablelands Cane growers;
  • MSF sugar;
  • Northern Tablelands famers;
  • James Cook University;
  • Research institutions (various).
Performance Indicators
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Learning (demonstration) sites should seek to illustrate compatibility with production operations and drainage infrastructure maintenance needs and to explore means by which drain maintenance needs can be reduced (e.g. shading of invasive and drain blocking understory grasses), and production benefits can be achieved (e.g. reduction in rodent pest refuge habitats).They will seek to:

  • compare and contrast wetland basin designs required to capture ‘first flush’ wet season rainfall run off versus seasonal flows of irrigation tail water;
  • identify opportunities for recycling of irrigation tail water and for the revegetation of wetland basin margins with habitat producing native vegetation planting suited to the variable hydrological conditions of irrigation tail water versus rainfall run off capture;
  • support trials via monitoring and reporting of contaminant load fate and condition outcomes for downstream receiving waterways and wetlands.

2.1.3 Address rising salinity groundwater profiles in the Arriga plain by:

  • strategically plant native trees in saline affected areas (targeting Cattle Creek & Two mile creek catchments), to address rising salinity and to improve riparian health and water quality;
  • promoting alternatives to flood irrigation.

Activities:

Identify sites for further tree plantings in the Cattle Creek catchment which are reasonably safe from development and have landholder support, for further tree plantings of native species selected to arrest the rise of salinity (e.g. river red gums and melaleucas), with a target of an average 1,000 plants per annum, resulting in 5,000 trees planted over the period 2016-2021. Extend tree planting efforts to Two mile creek catchment and other areas.

Partners:

  • Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF)
  • Qld Department of Natural Resources and Mines;
  • Mareeba District Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (MDFVGA).
  • Sunwater;
  • Tablelands Cane growers;
  • MSF sugar;
  • Northern Tablelands famers.
Performance Indicators
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Arriga soils are heavy and generally lend themselves to furrow irrigation, however this is turn leads to rising saline profiles of the ground water.

This action represents a commitment to continuing tree planting projects in the Arriga plain and beyond, to address rising salinity profiles

As increased intensity high rainfall events (flood and cyclones) are predict to occur as a result of climate change which will increase the risk of dryland salinity. This will mean NRM agencies need to do what they can to arrest the spread of salinity to create a resilient landscape in the face of a changing climate. Conversely the longer projected dry seasons may result in a reduction of dryland salinity and continued warming of temperature Including more hot days) will reduce deep drainage and therefore reduce the threat of dryland salinity. However this will be offset with lower yields of agricultural produce which may limit the capacity of farmers to implement salinity management.

2.1.4 Monitor and document trends and condition of surface and ground water, through establishing a long term water quality monitoring program at key sites throughout Northern Tablelands targeting;

  1. Arriga flats (Cattle and Dingo Creek) for salinity;
  2. Two-Mile Creek & Mareeba sewerage treatment plant for sewerage contaminants & salinity; and
  3. Bullaburrah Creek (Dimbulah) – high metal concentrations;
  4. Collins Weir, Walsh river, Watsonville (site of the proposed Nullinga dam).

Activities:

  1. Water quality monitoring programs need to be established in a rigorous and regular basis at 16 sites (preferably 22 sites) at least every month and be analysed for at least 7 key water quality parameters. Quantitative assessment of the composition of waste materials in high risk sites needs to be undertaken to identify the chemical nature and quantity of acid generating material.
  2. Monitoring of irrigation water inputs into the Cattle Creek catchment should be compiled annually to ensure that the data is available for future modelling and improved water management;
  3. Work with partner organisations and researchers to monitor salinity, with key areas that should be prioritised for this work including areas that have not been assessed within the MDIA such as the Biboohra section, to identify trigger values for potential salinity problem sites.

Partners:

  • Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF)
  • Qld Department of Natural Resources and Mines;
  • Mareeba District Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (MDFVGA).
  • Mitchell River Watershed Management Group;
  • Sunwater;
  • MSF sugar;
  • Tablelands Canegrowers;
  • Mareeba Shire Council (MSC);
  • James Cook University;
  • Tablelands famers;
  • TMR.
Performance Indicators
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There has been a range of water quality monitoring programs conducted within the region in recent decades by industry, government and community stakeholders. A number of monitoring programs continue to operate within the region. An opportunity exists to work across agencies and sectors to combine data sets into a regional inventory.

Water quality data is integral to assessments of inland water resource condition, threats and responses to management interventions, however data collection is generally costly and needs to be strategically targeted to meet management needs.

Monitoring programs would target the following:

  1. Two mile creek : Phosphorus and coliforms;
  2. Arriga: dissolved oxygen & nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK);
  3. Collins Weir: dissolved oxygen.

Water quality may be impacted in many ways under predicted climate change scenarios, including the following:

  1. Continued warming of temperature, including more hot days will create greater opportunities for water quality impacts associated with reduced dissolved oxygen carrying capacity, enhanced mobilizationof nutrients from sediments, increased solubility of metals and generation of favourable conditions for blue-green algae outbreaks. Furthermore, the impacts of low dissolved oxygen may drive fish kills on adult and juvenile populations of fishery species within vulnerable habitat types (floodplain lagoons, refugial channel waterholes).
  2. Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration and acidification of rain and surface waters will lower rainfall pH altering solute composition and increasing mobilization of soluble metals in catchment run off with greater capacity for toxic impacts in receiving waters downstream of contaminant sources. Furthermore higher algal/ phytoplankton production in the surface waters of stratified water bodies may lead to eutrophication and/ or blue green algae impacts on water quality. 3. Increased atmospheric Co2 will also lower pH waters in catchments with limited buffering capacity affecting the shell forming capacity and abundance of diatoms and mollusks with flow on impacts associated with a loss of their ecological functions including as grazers and phytoplankton filterers. Higher carbon-nitrogen and phosphorus ratios in phytoplankton will decrease their nutritive value and drive trophic shifts in food webs.

Therefore, contributing to the total sum of water quality data in Gulf waterways, particularly in the upper Mitchell and Walsh catchments, is particularly important to ascertain how these climate induced impacts are playing out. The interactions and feedbacks between agricultural practices and climate change impacts will be important to monitor.

Partner with local government, agricultural industries and peri-urban communities to contain and control priority weeds and pests by educating and supporting local communities to address existing and emerging biosecurity problems.

2.2.1 Educate rural communities about priority and emerging weed threats to the Northern Tablelands by:

  • Encouraging membership of the Weed Spotters Network;
  • Supporting the Qld Biosecurity campaign against the spread scheduled weeds including Siam weed (Chromolaena odorata), Koster’s curse (Clidemia hirta), Limnocharis (Limnocharis flava), Makania vine (Mikania micrantha), and miconia (Miconia calvescens);
  • Supporting the control of gamba grass (Andropogon gayanus) navua sedge (cyperus aromaticus) and giant rat’s tail grass (Sporobolus pyramidalis), especially in to the south and west of Mareeba, such as along the Gulf and Burke Development roads, to reduce the risk of spread further west into the Northern Gulf region;
  • Monitoring the distribution of thatch grass (Hyparrhenia rufa), which may be transported from the slashers from Gladstone and could be a major emerging problem weed for the Northern Gulf bio-regions. Collaborate with neighboring NRM bodies to conduct a roadside survey; and
  • Community education about key weed species identification, including plant sample processing for submission to the Qld Herbarium.

Activities:

  1. Identify existing communications and education resources which profile and provide information to combat priority, schedule weeds in the Northern Tablelands, and utilise NGRMG communication networks, social media and web based communications to promote them.
  2. Profile one of the above listed weeds each year in a NGRMG newsletter feature article, resulting in 5 featured articles on feral animal threats and management between 2016 to 2021, distributing to 2,000 Northern Gulf residents with each edition;
  3. Promote participation in the Weeds Spotters Network through internal communication networks, including NGRMG newsletter, social media and web based communications;
  4. Run a workshop in Dimbulah,Irvinebank and Mt Molloy/ Jualtten districts for Council staff, Traditional Owners, 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 (as per Grazing Lands action 1.3.3).

Partners:

  • QLD Herbarium;
  • Weed Spotters Network.
  • Qld Biosecurity
  • Qld Herbarium
  • MSC;
  • MRWMG.
Performance Indicators
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This action applies to all sub-regions.

See Action 1.3.4 in the Grazing Lands section for more detail.

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 utilises 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. In the Northern Tablelands, there is also weed threats from the neighbouring Wet Tropics bioregion directly to the east.

Climate change could have drastic impacts on the abundance, spread and distribution of weed species, with the following impacts anticipated:

  1. The increased intensity and/ or magnitude of high rainfall events (including floods and cyclones)has the potential to spread weed seeds into new areas with flood waters. Intense rainfall events may provide a competitive advantage for annuals (eg. Grader grass) and other weeds that can recruit at high densities. However there is the also the potential for beneficial scouring/ flushing of exotic aquatic wedinfestations from floodplain/ delta wetlands providing enhanced control opportunities.
  2. Longer dry seasons and extended drought conditions will result in more bare ground, which provides the opportunity for weed establishment once rains return. The dry periods may also negatively impact on some weed species, through reduced growing season. Adjusting to uncertainty about future variability in dry periods requires assessment of weed populations to target appropriate times for control actions;
  3. Increased wildfires will have different effects on different weeds (see Weeds climate change matrix in : provide link), some woody, fire sensitive weeds (eg. Rubbervine) will be reduced in abundance. Other weeds, especially annuals (eg. Grader grass) will be promoted by wildfires.

2.2.2 Support new infestation monitoring and response capacity for exotic fish species, esepeically tilapia (Tilapia, Oreochromis and Sarotherodon spp), including the following:

  • Consult Qld Fisheries to identify high risk areas for new tilapia infestations on the basis of proximity to established populations, past controlled infestations and likely conduits for new infestations;
  • Seek co-funding support from corporate water supplier Sunwater and Government fisheries agencies for an independent review of the adequacy of existing inter-basin water transfer screen barriers and nominated options for improvement;
  • Encourage and support government agency led seasonally stratified fish surveys and baseline aquatic biota surveys in areas vulnerable to new tilapia

Activities:

  1. Liaise with Qld fisheries and keep abreast of tilapia and pest fish monitoring and potential outbreaks;
  2. Negotiate with Sunwater to conduct a review of inter-basin transfer screens, and actively seek co-funding from relevant agencies;
  3. Broker investment and co-funding into seasonally stratified fish surveys (can be combined with water quality monitoring program);
  4. Support MRWMG to engage communities of the Upper Mitchell, and identify and train community champions to “high-alert” spots for tilapia and other pest fish

Partners:

  • Qld Fisheries;
  • Sunwater;
  • Sunfish;
  • Mareeba Shire Council;
  • Mitchell River Watershed Management Group;
  • James Cook University.
Performance Indicators
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If any site becomes successfully colonised by tilapia, NRM agencies should conduct seasonally stratified post-infestation monitoring to assess the impact of the species on the biotic community, and use findings to review further tilapia management and control efforts.

Fisheries experts have identified potential limitations in the existing screen barriers used to exclude tilapia in irrigation water supply transfers between the infested Barron River basin and irrigation scheme areas in the upper Mitchell/Walsh Basin. The development of a multiple barrier system consisting of an electrical barrier in the channel just below the Tinaroo Dam wall and two screens further down the channel has been recommended and warrants independent assessment for informing further management action.

Climate change impacts may favour tilapia through the following:

  1. Longer dry seasons will result in reduced flows and other identified factors contributing to poor water quality in refugial pools, which could promote exotic fish species such as tilapia, with broader tolerances;
  2. Continued warming of temperature (including more hot days) may lead to the greater establishment opportunities for invasive exotic fish that have broader low dissolved oxygen/ thermal tolerances;
  3. Increased intensity and/or magnitude of high rainfall events (flods and cyclones) has the potential for enhanced dispersal of exotic fish species to new lower/ adjoining catchment sites.
Support communities to improve their surrounding environs and waterways by managing the localised impacts of abandoned mines.

2.3.1 Support and encourage more detailed studies of sediment and water quality downstream of the mine sites that are considered greater risk to water users to assess the wider spatial distribution and year to year fluctuations of heavy metals and in response to high rainfall events. Priority areas include:

  • The highly contaminated sediment water in close proximity to the township of Watsonville and the Walsh River;
  • The rehabilitation of Jamie Creek downstream of the Baal Gammon mine;
  • Poison Creek (old mine site above the creek);
  • Creek siltation from Governor Norman mine (Irvinebank); and
  • Creek siltation from Peterson mine (Irvinebank).

Activities:

Seek investment and co-funding support to monitor heavy metal content in water quality in the abovementioned sites.

Partners:

  • Qld Department of Natural Resources and Mines;
  • Bar Barrum Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Watsonville Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Irvinebank Progress Association;
  • Mining companies;
  • Mareeba Shire Council;
  • Mitchell River Watershed Management Group.
Performance Indicators
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These sites were identified as priority for remediation works through consultation with members of the Irvinebank Progress Association. There are literally thousands of abandoned mines in the Irvinebank and Watsonville areas, which far surpass the capacity of community based NRM agencies to address, however these sites have been prioritized directly through community engagement with local people, as they are seen as having an active impact on environmental and population health of Irvinebank, Watsonville and other downstream communities.

Climate change has the potential to exacerbate mining legacies on catchment health through the following:

  1. Increased intensity and/ or magnitude of high rainfall events (including flood and cyclones) will increase the prospects of mining associated contaminant loads in retention facilities (eg. Tailings dams) being released via overflow events to receiving aquatic ecosystems;

Longer dry seasons could reduce river/stream baseflows to flush wet season run in and tailwater contaminant loads through drainage systems.

2.3.2 Support the Irvinebank communities and Traditional Owners to restore watershed functions by containing the impacts of abandoned mines in the Irvinebank and Watsonville area, focusing on the stretch of McDonald Creek through the Irvinebank town centre.

Activities:

  1. Conduct and assessment and detailed costings of creek restoration of McDonald Creek through the village zone of Irvinebank.
  2. Seek investment to embark on staged watershed restoration, with the support and involvement of the Irvinebank community.

Partners:

  • Bar Barrum Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Watsonville Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Irvinebank Progress Association;
  • Mining companies;
  • Mareeba Shire Council;
  • RegenAg;
  • Griffith University;
  • James Cook University;
  • Mitchell River Watershed Management Group.

Performance Indicators
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McDonald creek is the focal point of the Irvinebank township and is adjoined on both sides by an avenue of parkland. In years gone by it was also a focal point of recreational swimming, however it is now so silted up by sediment disturbed through past mining activities that it no longer supports permanent water holes or flows. This action is therefore a town beautification project which also delivers an environmental outcome and learning site of waterway restoration methods, is a highly valued and visible site to both locals and visitors to Irvinebank.

Support local communities to restore ecological values by enhancing intact habitat within protected conservation areas while working across tenure to identify and build strategic landscape-scale linkages to facilitate the movement of wildlife and maintain their population viability.

2.4.1 Identify sites for strategic tree plantings and ecological restoration throughout the Northern Tablelands to reconnect fragmented habitat across regional ecosystem types, with a particular focus on the Mt Molloy/Julatten area.

Activities:

Using biodiversity corridor mapping (SOIC- 2015/TRC- 2013) seek funding for tree planting and other habitat restoration works on selected strategic sites throughout the Northern Tablelands, with a focus on the Mt Molloy/Julatten area, to restore landscape scale connectivity.

Partners:

  • Mareeba Shire Council;
  • Mitchell River Watershed Management Group.
  • Cape York NRM;
  • Wet Tropics Management Authority (WTMA);
  • Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP);
  • Julatten and Mt Molloy Area Ratepayers and Residents (JAMMARR);
  • Strategic Offsets Investment Corridors (SOIC) strategy, Qld government;
  • Green Army program;
  • 20 million trees program
Performance Indicators
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For specific direction on priority areas to target tree planting and restoration, please refer to mapping included in the Northern Tablelands Regional Assessment at provide link.

Increasing landscape connectivity will be critical for addressing habitat fragmentation, and also for enabling shifts in species’ movement in response to climate change. But with limited resources and increasing needs, we may need to redefine what we mean by connectivity and be more innovative about how we manage for connectivity outcomes, perhaps adopting a “stepping stone” approach rather than attempting to provide continuous linkages.

Our spatial analysis of faunal distribution under current extent and future climate change scenarios demonstrates how important the Mt Molloy/ Julatten area is for providing refugia both now and into the future, as the entire area is included in the top 2-10% of areas currently prioritized for the conservation of all species within the Northern Gulf region (including birds/ mammals/ reptiles and amphibians), and in projected scenarios in 2085, this area has maintained this status.

2.4.2 Provide material and technical support to restore ecological values and nature based recreation (bird watching) to Abattoir swamp in Julatten.

Activities:

  1. Engage hydrological and ecological expertise to assess Abattoir swamp and make recommendation for its improvement and restoration;
  2. Support partner organisation MRWMG to leverage funding for recommended improvements to the function and habitat value of Abbatoir swamp.

Partners:

  • Mareeba Shire Council;
  • Mitchell River Watershed Management Group.
  • Cape York NRM;
  • Wet Tropics Management Authority;
  • Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP);
  • Julatten and Mt Molloy Area Ratepayers and Residents (JAMMARR);
  • Traditional Owner groups;
  • Tourism organisations (various).

Performance Indicators
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Abbatoir Swamp has recently been the focus of a community led ecological restoration proposal, led by MRWMG.The swamp is a Council managed conservation reserve with a bird hide located on the highway at Julatten, however the boardwalk and facilities have fallen into disrepair and the swamp itself is weeds choked and silted up. Restoring this site would improve a valuable wetland habitat while providing renewed focal point for local and visiting bird watchers alike.

Enhancement and protection of valuable wetland habitat like Abattoir swamp is particularly important under climate change, as these areas could be impacted by the following:

  1. Increased intensity and/or magnitude of high rainfall events (including floods and cyclones) have the potential for both positive and negative impacts to riparian and wetland vegetation utilizedby water birds as nesting sites, depending on the timing of the event;
  2. Longer dry seasons will result in a reduction in faunal feeding and nesting resources associated with wetlands. These longer dry periods will also impact on bird species that utilizewetlands which may decline in numbers due to a decrease in water availability at these sites.
Build the capacity of Indigenous groups to actively lead NRM activities on their custodial lands, particularly initiatives which support younger generations returning to country.

2.5.1 Support Traditional Owners in:

  • Recording knowledge on culturally significant places, plants and animals;
  • Conducting surveys and map results detailing number and distribution of species;
  • Assisting in ground truthing and documenting threats to endangered and of concern regional ecosystems and map known threats and register findings on the database.

Activities:

Support Traditional Owners and Aboriginal organisations to secure funding for training and assessment work in recording cultural and environmental values and documenting threats to these species.

Partners:

  • Alliance of Northern Gulf Indigenous Corporation (ANGIC);
  • Watsonville Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Muluridji Aboriginal Corporation.
Performance Indicators
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This action represents a commitment to continue to support traditional knowledge recording of cultural values and also recognizes Traditional Owners as key stakeholders in mapping ecological values of their traditional lands. NGRMG will support Traditional owner groups in securing resources for these activities.

2.5.2 Support the development of emerging and new Indigenous ranger programs in the Upper Mitchell catchment, to undertake weeds and biodiversity surveys and environmental restoration work.

Activities:

Support the development of an Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program based in the Upper Mitchell catchment. Where possible, provide training opportunities and mentoring to Indigenous youth and rangers and outsource weed and pest eradication and field research activities to them.

Partners:

  • Alliance of Northern Gulf Indigenous Corporation (ANGIC);
  • Watsonville Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Muluridji Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Mareeba Shire Council;
  • NQ Land Council.

Performance Indicators
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Whilst there are two well established and mature Indigenous ranger programs on the Gulf coast (Kowanyama and Normanton) there remains a gap in Indigenous ranger activity in the Northern Tablelands. NGRMG is committed to supporting Traditional owner groups to establish and expand Indigenous ranger groups in this area, as a means of providing opportunities for Traditional owners to return to country for meaningful employment and providing much need on ground NRM capacity.

2.5.3 Support initiatives and programs which encourage young Traditional Owners to connect with their country and gain skills to be next generation land managers and Traditional custodians.

 Activities:

Provide material and technical support to the development of courses, training and mentoring and other initiatives which provide opportunities to young Traditional Owners to position themselves as next generation land managers of the Upper Mitchell.

Partners:

  • Watsonville Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Muluridji Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Employment and skills development service providers (various).

Performance Indicators
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Many younger generation Traditional owners of the Northern Tablelands have grown up in Cairns, Mareeba, Kuranda and Atherton, and only have limited opportunities to visit and reconnect with their traditional country. This action represents a commitment to support initiatives which encourage these young people as next generation land managers of their own traditional estate, and provide skills and employment opportunities to realize this important role.

Provide environmental education to peri-urban and rural communities, through schools and community initiatives.

2.6.1 Engage horse owners on small acreages (5-100 acres) by developing educational resources and events which promote sustainable horse keeping in peri-urban areas. Use existing horse clubs, societies and events to disseminate these messages.

 Activities:

  1. Identify existing information and educational resources on sustainable horse keeping and disseminate through NGRMG communication channels;
  2. Network with horse recreational networks, attending up to four association meeting per annum, and contributing sustainable horse keeping topics and discourse to the agenda;
  3. Develop tailored, wed-based and video communications on the principles and practice of sustainable horse keeping in the tropical environs of the Northern Tablelands;
  4. Seek funding to provide short courses on sustainable horse keeping to Northern Tablelands communities.

Partners:

  • Horse North;
  • Pony clubs and horse societies (various);
  • Equine circle of Australia.
Performance Indicators
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There is a large congregation of small acreages or “lifestyle” blocks in the Northern Tablelands, converging on the Muthcilba, Bihboora, Mt Molloy and Julatten areas as well as outlying areas to the west of Mareeba. A large number of these properties are owned by horse owners. While the cumulative impacts of horses on catchments and the wider environment is significant, very often horse owners do not see themselves as nature resource managers or custodians of the wider environment. This action provides networks, training and communications to instill a NRM ethos and skills into these communities, while mitigating the impact that horse-keeping on small acreages might have on the wider environment.

2.6.2 Support the development and expansion of local food networks and cottage & niche food industries by working with existing community networks in the delivery of workshops and information resources tailored to the local climate and environment.

Activities:

When enlisted, provide in-principle and material support to local food and permaculture initiatives in the Northern Tablelands.

Partners:

  • Local permaculture & seed savers networks;
  • Taste Paradise;
  • RegenAg;
  • Tropical fruit networks.

Performance Indicators
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This action represents an ongoing commitment to provide material and technical support to local food networks and startups, led by local communities and regional development organisations.

2.6.3 Work with local schools to develop classroom and curriculum resources and events to assist students gain an understanding of the environment in which they live.

 Activities:

Provide one event per annum in the Upper Mitchell catchment, targeting the school communities of Irvinebank, Mutchilba, Dimbulah, Jualtten and Mt Molloy, resulting in 5 environmental education events over the period 2016-2021.

Partners:

  • Education Qld;
  • Local schools (Dimbulah, Mareeba, Bihboora, Julatten, Mt Molloy, Irvinebank, Mutchilba state schools and St Anthony’s Catholic school).

Performance Indicators
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This action relates to 1.8.1 in the Grazing Lands section.

Resources and events in the Northern Tablelands would be tailored to this environmental context, which includes highly biodiverse ecosystems and a convergence of the Wet tropics, Einsaleigh Uplands and Cape York bioregions.

REFER TO GRAZING LANDS, STRATEGY 8: EDUCATION, ACTIONS 1.8.2/ 1.8.3 AS THESE APPLY EQUALLY TO THE NORTHERN TABLELANDS.

What are appropriate and emerging crops and cropping systems for the Mareeba-Dimbulah Water Supply Area and the proposed Gilbert River Irrigation scheme?
What are the opportunities for diversification within the agricultural sector?
Viability of Poly-culture agriculture – alternatives to high pesticide/herbicide monocultures.
The extent of Mine site run-off in the Upper Mitchell catchment.
A research project to determine the effectiveness of mitigation measures in reducing salinisation through:
· Monitoring salinity before, during and after proposed land use changes and evaluate strategies for preventing salinisation;
· Undertaking a review of the effectiveness of mitigation measures used to reduce the risk of salinisation in Cattle Creek; and
· Based on the results of the above review of Cattle Creek using adaptive management, consider and implement if necessary alternative mitigation measures with the view of optimising future management of salinity.
A cost/ benefit analysis and feasibility study of different pricing schedule for irrigation water through market signals to incentivize and reward water use efficiencies in saline prone areas, based on a social science case study of irrigators in the Arriga plain.