Reef Rescue – Quantifying the impacts of rehabilitating degraded lands

Rehabilitating degraded lands and increasing ground cover helps to reduce sediment runoff onto the Great Barrier Reef. Although grazing management strategies can often improve ground cover levels, degraded (D class) grazing lands require mechanical interventions.

The project, Reef Rescue – Quantifying the impacts of rehabilitating degraded lands, aimed to quantify the impacts of rehabilitating degraded lands on soil health, pastures, runoff and nutrient and sediment movement by documenting landholder experiences in rehabilitating degraded grazing lands and establishing trial sites in the Burdekin (at Spyglass Research Station) and Fitzroy catchments, to investigate mechanical disturbance effects and regeneration treatments.  It also linked with other reef recovery projects regarding the social and economic aspects of land management.

This project answered questions about:

  • the effects of different types of disturbance/cultivation on infiltration rates and soil water storage; and on soil, water and nutrient losses
  • how long the effects of a single cultivation on hydrology last
  • time required for pasture recovery
  • pasture production levels and hydrology after rehabilitation
  • costs and returns of rehabilitation in terms of both beef production and sediment reduction
  • motivations and barriers to landholders rehabilitating degraded grazing lands.

The project outputs and outcomes provided critical information for a range of target groups including:

  • farmers/advisers: information on the cost and environmental impact of management approaches to rehabilitating degraded land
  • support groups: costs, returns. and likely level of incentives required for adoption
  • modellers: data on time lags for land rehabilitation, effect on hydrology, pasture production and erosion
  • policy makers: costs, returns, environmental impacts and likely Great Barrier Reef wide application information.

When: 1 May 2011 to 31 July 2014

Contact: Trevor Hall  E: Trevor.Hall@daf.qld.gov.au

Collaborators: Department of Agriculture and FisheriesCSIRO, NQ Dry Tropics, AgForce QueenslandFitzroy Basin Association and DEHP

Links

For more information, refer to the project summary on the Reef Rescue Research and Development website.

Download a copy of the final report (in four parts):

  1. Impacts of rehabilitating degraded lands on soil health, pastures, runoff, erosion, nutrient and sediment movement. Part I: Rehabilitation methodologies to improve water quality flowing from grazing lands onto the Great Barrier Reef (PDF, 14 MB)
  2. Impacts of rehabilitating degraded lands on soil health, pastures, runoff, erosion, nutrient and sediment movement. Part II: Literature review of rehabilitation methods to improve water quality flowing from grazing lands onto the Great Barrier Reef (PDF, 3 MB)
  3. Impacts of rehabilitating degraded lands on soil health, pastures, runoff, erosion, nutrient and sediment movement. Part III: Economic analysis of rehabilitation techniques in the Burdekin River catchment to improve water quality flowing from grazing lands onto the Great Barrier Reef (PDF, 1 MB)
  4. Impacts of rehabilitating degraded lands on soil health, pastures, runoff, erosion, nutrient and sediment movement. Part IV: The Kimberley rehabilitation program and lessons for the Great Barrier Reef catchments (PDF, 2 MB)

Reef Rescue is part of the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country program and projects are conducted in partnership with regional NRM groups in the catchments bordering the Great Barrier Reef.

Learn about ABCD land classification and the rolling ball model.