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 REJUVENATING THE BARRON RIVER

 The Green Corridor Project is a long-term initiative aimed at restoring the health of the Barron River, through revegetation along the riverbanks. By increasing the area of native riparian vegetation, the project aims to reduce weed growth and pest invasion, create new habitat for native wildlife, stabilise eroding riverbanks, and improve the quality of the water on its way to the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon.

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The Green Corridor Project brings together landholders, communities, managers and businesses who depend on the river and will benefit from its restoration.

 An iconic project

The Green Corridor Project is an iconic project for Barron Catchment Care, made possible through the vision and enthusiasm of community members and generous sponsorship of corporate partners.

In 2005, Cairns Port Authority made a commitment to fund the project for three years, donating $250,000 per year. With this commitment, Barron Catchment Care was able to leverage additional donations and in-kind contributions from other sponsors, reaching a total investment of $1,500,000 for the first three years of the project.

For a community group, usually dependent on government funding, the high level of funding gave the project special features over three years which contributed to the impressive achievements:

  • The appointment of a designated project manager and site supervisor to ensure that works happen according to contractual requirements and business principles
  • A larger scale of revegetation (20ha annually) than previously undertaken and with a mix of methodologies
  • Quarterly reporting against key performance indicators (KPIs) agreed to by all partners, and quarterly reports delivered to key stakeholders.August_09_026.jpg

With the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, and privatisation of the Cairns Port Authority, it was no longer feasible for the Green Corridor’s corporate sponsors to continue high-level funding, resulting in the loss of the dedicated project manager and site supervisor positions by 2009.  These roles have been absorbed by Barron Catchment Care’s Catchment Coordinator.

 The Green Corridor Project remains a project under Barron Catchment Care, for ongoing maintenance activities and smaller-scale site-specific revegetation projects being undertaken in partnership with landholders, community groups, local government and businesses, and funded by the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country Program (Reef Rescue).  

 The Barron Delta is a key focus for new community engagement activities in revegetation and habitat restoration as part of the ongoing Green Corridor commitment.

 Landholder Agreements and Technical Site Plans

 With so much money invested in each revegetation site the respective roles of all parties are formalised through a simple two-page Landholder Agreement with Barron Catchment Care.

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The Agreement captures mutual responsibilities, including that of the landholder to protect the investment from damage by people and livestock.

 Linked to the Landholder Agreement, for management, monitoring and communication purposes, detailed information has been collected and recorded for each of the Green Corridor sites through Technical Site Plans.

 The five components of these plans are:

  • General site details – landholder, location and site information
  • Planting objectives and the approach to be taken in different plots within the site
  • Implementation schedule – what jobs need to be done, when and by whom
  • Species list and densities for each plot
  • GIS aerial photograph map of the site showing where the rehabilitation will occur.

Combined, these documents provide an excellent record of the intent and progress of each revegetation project for monitoring and reporting purposes.

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 Progress along the Green Corridor

Since its launch in 2005, the Green Corridor Project has stamped its mark on the Barron Catchment:

Area rehabilitated

91ha (cash cost/ha - $12,090/ha, 3000 trees)

 

Trees planted

110,893 (cash cost/tree - $4.02)

 

Sponsorship budget

$2,253,503 - $1,100,188 cash; $1,153,315 in-kind

 

Volunteers involved   

4416

 

Green Corridor Project Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) June 2010

The environmental and social benefits of the project are enormous and will extend into the long-term as revegetation and rehabilitation activities continue, the plantings mature and attract native wildlife, the water quality of the Barron River improves, and local communities and visitors enjoy a greater sense of wellbeing.

 SPONSORS AND STAKEHOLDERS

SPONSORS

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Cairns Airport  (CAPL) (2010-present): 

Cairns Airport has been a major sponsor of the Green Corridor Project and through recent funding has enabled the restoration and strengthening of the riparian vegetation along the banks of the Barron River in Mareeba. Through funding from CAPL in 2014/2015, Barron Catchment Care was able to target the highly resilient and destructive vine, Turbina corymbosa, along the Barron River near the Edmund Kennedy Bridge in Mareeba. This emerging weed is destructive as it forms vines tower over vegetation, smothering it and disabling natural recruitment below. A new Green Corridor sign was erected at the public parkland near the bridge to celebrate the creation of a new Green Corridor site.

Chair of Barron Catchment Care, Brian Down, said “Since its launch in 2005, the Green Corridor Project has involved over 4000 volunteers who have collectively planted 110,000 trees and rehabilitated 91 hectares throughout the catchment. This scale of achievement is rarely seen from community-driven projects. Cairns Airport is a major sponsor of the Green Corridor Project and their ongoing financial support ensures that the environmental and social benefits derived from the catchment-wide project extend into the long-term”.
Cairns Airport GM People, Communications & Compliance, Nerida Mitchell, said “Cairns Airport has been proud to support the Green Corridor project over many years and we are pleased to get behind this latest project to improve the health of the Barron. We understand the health of the river in the highlands impacts its health right along the river course and all the way out to our region’s key tourism attraction, the Great Barrier Reef.”

Under an agreement with CAPL, a Barron Catchment Care team also continues to undertake maintenance of the vegetation on Redden Island. The Redden Island Nature Walk was developed in partnership with CAPL, local Traditional Owners and a professional botanist. In 2014, Kevin Brown (CEO of Cairns Airport). George Skeene (Yirrganydji elder) and Margaret Barker (Coordinator of Barron Catchment Care) each planted a bush tucker tree (Eleaocarpus bancroftii) to mark the strong partnerships forged between Barron Catchment Care, the Cairns Airport and the Yirrganydji traditional custodians as part of Barron Catchment Care’s ongoing Green Corridor Project.

 Cairns Port Authority (CPA) (2005-2009): Entered into a three year agreement with Barron Catchment Care in 2005 to provide financial and other support for the implementation of the project, with an option of two further years of support. The value of the Cairns Port Authority’s commitment is over $750,000. The high level of funding made it possible for Barron Catchment Care to use innovative methods throughout the project.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) (2005-2009): Provided $10,000 annually for 3 years (2005-09) to educate the community on how this project will help to implement the Reef Guardians Schools Program, and other GBRMPA activities, to protect the Great Barrier Reef. GBRMPA continues to work with a local school as part of the Barron Delta project.

Cairns River Improvement Trust  (2005-2008): $20,000 annually for 3 years for works within the river to help stabilise the banks. 

Cairns Regional Council (CRC): In-kind support annually ($20,000 per annum in 2005-2008), involving supply of plants for revegetation, and help with site preparation from Council staff. 

Tablelands Regional Council (TRC):  In-kind support through supply of plants from Council nurseries and help from technical staff. 

Mareeba Shire Council (MSC):  In-kind support through supply of mulch and assistance from technical staff. 

Theiss (2006): Offset payment of in 2006 as part of the Cairns Navy Base refurbishment, to compensate for loss of environmental values in the Theiss works. 

Boral: Have been in partnership with CVA for more than 20 years. Each year they sponsor a volunteer team to work for a week on environmental projects. For the past few years the Boral team have worked with Kuranda Envirocare on the Myola revegetation site.  

Queensland Rail (QR) (2009-2013): Committed to 4 years of rehabilitation investment at four Green Corridor sites along the Kuranda to Cairns railway track. The pilot projects will demonstrate the benefits of rehabilitation, including biodiversity, reduced track maintenance costs, and enhanced visitor experience.  


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STAKEHOLDERS

 Environmental organisations

Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA), with extensive experience of coordinating volunteers in revegetation and conservation projects, work closely with our team on the Green Corridor sites.  

 Terrain NRM, the Regional NRM Body, is the overall Project Manager.  Responsibilities of this position include ensuring that the Action Management Plan is effectively implemented, gaining new sponsors and maintaining relationships with them, and encouraging community involvement and engagement. Terrain NRM continues to fund the position of Barron Catchment Care Coordinator, and hosts the new Land Management Team.

Community supporters

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Volunteers from these groups provide help in various roles, including seed collection and propagation, plant selection, site preparation, planting and maintenance.


Project objectives

 •  to enhance the physical stability of the river banks

 •  to enhance biodiversity, by re-establishing native habitat both within and along the river

 •  to improve water quality, both within the Barron River itself and in the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon.