Working together to protect Karuah River

A joint project that addresses multiple impacts on the Karuah River and the Port Stephens estuary is being showcased during Landcare Week from 3-9 August, with more farmers invited to join the project.

Through an innovative partnership between local farmers, Midcoast Council, Hunter Local Land Services, Landcare Australia and Karuah Great Lakes Landcare, the Karuah-Borland Landcare Program is beginning the journey to improve the health of the Karuah River. A video has been produced which showcases the Karuah Catchment Grants program, the first part of this three-year project.

“The health of a river is generally the culmination of the surrounding impacts that occur throughout its catchment. Things like unsealed roads, or impacts from clearing or agriculture, allow nutrients and sediment to slowly make their way across the land when it rains or through little creeks and drains down into the main trunk of the river – and in the case of the Branch and Karuah Rivers, into Port Stephens,” said MidCoast Council’s Catchment Management Coordinator, Louise Duff.

“Healthy wetlands and native vegetation are essential for healthy rivers. Wetlands and vegetation corridors along riverbanks operate like the river’s kidneys, filtering out these nutrients and sediment from the land, while also providing habitat for native species and serving as connecting corridors for these species to move through. Protecting these remaining wetlands and riparian corridors is a key part of restoring the health of the overall river.”

Combining forces, the partnering agencies are contributing over $500,000 to this project which is being matched by eight landholders through their own labour and cash contributions, to protect these vital habitats on their properties. Altogether, over 270 hectares of wetlands and 50 hectares of riparian vegetation will be secured on The Branch and Karuah Rivers.

Bryan Royce is putting the final touches on a fencing project that will protect some 50-odd hectares of wetlands on his property ‘La Grande Lande’.

Bryan explains that the cattle get into the wetlands and pug the soil, generally making a mess particularly when it’s wet. The new internal fence allows him to manage the cattle and keep them out of the wetlands for most of the year. Along with the installation of new water points for the cattle, he’s able to get the most out of the good pasture.

“This is a great example of multiple public agencies, non-profit organisations and the community coming together to solve big complex problems,” says Geoff Le Messurier, Senior Land Services Officer with Hunter Local Land Services who worked with the farmers to get these projects across the line.  

“Water quality and associated catchment health is too big a problem for the farmers to solve by themselves – they’re busy enough running their own farms and businesses after all. Likewise, being private land, there’s only so much government agencies can do.

“The only way to address these issues and develop landscape-scale projects is by working together and sharing resources. For instance, on this project Hunter Local Land Services is committing funding from the NSW State Government’s Marine Estate Management Strategy to reduce impacts from land on our marine estate. The projects associated with these eight neighbouring properties were bigger than our available budget so rather than reducing the scope of our project, we’ve partnered with Midcoast Council and through them Landcare Australia to really make a difference”.

Rowan Ewing is Head of Landcare Services for Landcare Australia, and says that “this is the second major project Landcare Australia has supported in the region to improve wildlife habitat, water quality and agricultural productivity”. He adds that this is a first step, and there will be more projects getting underway in the Karuah catchment to build on this successful collaboration.

Farmers within the Karuah River Catchment are welcome to join this project and can contact MidCoast Council’s Catchment Management Officer, Drew Morris on 0429 220 493, or email him at [email protected].

go to top

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!