Restoring waterways of Cudgen plateau

Farmers and Council are working together to expand soil conservation projects on the Cudgen plateau.

The two-year project, funded by the NSW Environmental Trust and coordinated by Council, will expand soil conservation activities to restore 3.5 hectares of riparian land along 1.5 kilometres of Cudgen plateau waterways.

Farmers_Council_cudgen_115113_640 Photo: Farmers and Council are working together to expand soil conservation projects on the Cudgen plateau.

Five landholders will work with Council to minimise the loss of valuable topsoil from farms, improve aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity and connectivity and improve water quality of the local stream and the estuary it feeds into, Cudgen Creek.

The loss of topsoil remains the most significant environmental issue affecting the sustainability of the plateau’s farming activities, polluting local waterways, degrading riparian habitat and reducing productivity.

“The plateau is one of our most important areas of agricultural land, our future food bowl, and farmers need support to protect these production values and maintain the health of the local environment,” Council’s Program Leader – Sustainable Agriculture, Eli Szandala, said.

“The benefits of native vegetation in riparian areas, for both catchment health and on-farm production, are well documented.

“However, the expertise and resources required to undertake restoration works are limited for most farmers.”

Well-vegetated riparian areas capture sediments, nutrients and farm chemicals before they enter the waterway, stabilise stream banks, particularly during flood events, and improve aquatic ecosystems.

They also provide habitat for beneficial insects and predatory birds that prey on agricultural pests.

The project will revegetate and maintain more than one hectare of riparian land, planting 8000 native trees and other plants.  Weed control will also be undertaken throughout the project area to assist native regeneration and remnant vegetation.

Mr Szandala said stream bank stabilisation and improved drainage design and management would be undertaken where required, to further reduce sediments and contaminants entering the waterway.

“Community education is a key element of the project, with fact sheets, training and assistance to be provided to participating landholders and the community about managing soil erosion and improving farm productivity through environmentally beneficial techniques,” he said.

A workshop will showcase the benefits of native vegetation for intensive production systems and demonstrate the mutual benefits of farming and biodiversity conservation.

Council has gained support from North Coast Local Land Services, Tweed Landcare Incorporated, WetlandCare Australia, landholders and bush regenerators to help implement the project and share information.

“This project will strengthen past revegetation works, develop additional areas of native riparian vegetation and improve on-farm management practices for the benefit of farmers, the environment and the local economy,” he said.

For more information, contact Eli Szandala at eszandala@tweed.nsw.gov.au or (02) 6670 2599.

Courtesy: Tweed Shire Council Newsroom
Friday 27 May, 2016
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See also: Big Volcano Towns : Kingscliff

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