Barron Catchment Care’s approach to catchment management is all about achieving balanced use of the land, water and biological resources, by working with landholders, community groups, government agencies and other natural resource users and managers, based on the BRICMA Catchment Management Plan 2004. (link)
A changing landscape
The Barron River catchment has undergone enormous change since European settlers arrived in the mid-1800s to clear much of the native forests for timber and agriculture, displacing the Traditional Owners and introducing a new style of land management. Forestry and farming practices, and subsequent urban expansion on the coast and the Tablelands, have affected the landscape and the way stormwater runs off the land, reducing the quality of water flowing in the rivers and out to the Reef. The largely agricultural landscape continues to change in response to national and global demands, national policies and changing weather patterns.
Environmental research in recent decades has shown that the health of our rivers and inshore reefs has declined as a result of land clearing and different land uses. The amount of nutrients that currently flow out to the Great Barrier Reef are between three and five times natural nutrient loads (Furnas 2003*). In the Wet Tropics, seasonal stormwater floods wash sediments and nutrients off the land. Turbid water from summer monsoonal rain flows rapidly down the Barron River and out to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon as a visible flood plume.
*Furnas M 2003 Catchments and Corals: Terrestrial runoff to the Great Barrier Reef. AIMS
Sustainable land and water management
Land and water management projects in the Barron catchment currently focus on slowing the flow of water off the land to reduce the sediment and nutrient runoff into the river at identified ‘hotspot’ sites.
Barron Catchment Care is leading the way by working with the Tablelands Regional Council to engineer stormwater detention basins, and with Upper Zone landholders to prepare farm management plans that detail appropriate drainage controls.
The availability of Reef Rescue funding, administered by Terrain NRM, has also encouraged local farmers and landholders to upgrade their farm management practices to minimise loss of soil, and better manage their nutrient and pesticide applications.
Everyone is working together to protect the water quality of the Barron River.
Catchment Management Principles
• Ecologically sustainable development - development that aims to meet the needs of Australians today, while conserving our ecosystems for the benefit of future generations.
• Land and water resources are basic and interactive parts of natural ecosystems and their management should be based on a whole-of-catchment approach to account for the interactions between these resources.
• River catchments are continuously changing in response to natural processes and human activity and their management must take account of these changes.
• Management of land and water resources must be coordinated, with decisions based on the best available information.
• Sound land and water management is best achieved through the informed action of individual users and managers of those resources.
• A balance between economic development and conservation of land, water and related biological resources must be maintained.
BRICMA Catchment Management Plan 2004
Stormwater Detention Basins
Farm Management Plans