Planning and fencing works to benefit Gascoyne’s significant Lake Macleod

[January 2016]

The Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) has undertaken a fencing project on Cardabia Creek Station in the Shire of Carnarvon, Western Australia, to enable strategic cattle grazing control in fragile, high conservation value areas. The ILC works closely with the Baiyungu Aboriginal Corporation (BAC) to operate the station's beef enterprise.

Rangelands NRM supported the ILC and BAC work to erect around 16km of fencing on the station which, along with ongoing monitoring, aims to allow regrowth of groundcover and reduce erosion and sediment runoff into Lake Macleod.

Lake MacLeod is a large saline coastal lake located approximately 30km north-north-west of Carnarvon. It has the largest area of inland mangroves in the world.

The ILC and BAC also set up four remote camera monitoring sites in the area to establish baseline information and monitor the impact of the fencing.

The work began in September 2015 and was completed in November 2015. 

ILC Business Enterprise Officer Peter Cunningham said the project gives station managers control over stocking rates and grazing rotations.

“The area has been subject to continuous grazing for many years, initially by sheep, then by cattle. This has resulted in overutilisation of certain areas of the property with no effective means of controlling stocking rates,” he said.

“The installation of the fences funded by this project, as well as additional fencing work funded by the ILC will enable the management of the station to control grazing and provide the opportunity to rest paddocks as required.”

“By managing grazing in the Tarrawarra paddock we’ll see improvements in the soil and water quality of the Cardabia Creek catchment and this will also benefit neighbours downstream from Cardabia.” 

This project is the first stage in a strategic fencing program at Cardabia Creek Station, which identified 93km of high priority fencing to protect the Cardabia Creek sub-catchment.

Rangelands NRM is also supporting environmental planning for the sub-catchment by consulting Landscape Scientist Richard Glover. 

Rangelands NRM’s Program Manager, Southern Rangelands, Kieran Massie said the Ecologically Sustainable Rangeland Management (ESRM) planning for Cardabia Creek Station and neighbouring Mia Mia Station has involved station managers in developing a roadmap for rehabilitation activities across the entire sub-catchment.

“The ESRM planning includes workshops with land managers to enable a collaborative approach by neighbours to natural resource management for the benefit of the catchment,” he said.

“The Cardabia Creek Sub-Catchment Plan will drive positive outcomes for the significant Lake Macleod.” 

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More information on Lake Macleod

The salt lake is episodically inundated by fresh water, allowing development of a unique assemblage of wetland types in Australia (Lane et al. 1996). These include permanent saline wetlands and inland mangrove swamps that are maintained by subterranean waterways. The lake is a major migration stop-over and drought refuge area for shorebirds, and is also one of the most important nontidal stop-over sites in Australia. It also supports Australia’s and the world’s largest inland community of mangroves and associated fauna. Lake MacLeod is listed on the Register of National Estate and is recognised in the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia. 

In 2011 a Catchment Report Card for Lake Macleod and the northern ponds was prepared by the Ecologically Sustainable Rangelands Management Program. The report outlines the (2011) status of the catchment with a specific emphasis on current land use and land management practices. It covers a range of works conducted throughout the catchment and identifies key threatening processes and issues facing the catchment.

References: 
Ellison, J & Simmonds, S (2003) Structure and productivity of inland mangrove stands at Lake MacLeod, Western Australia, Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia. 86:25–30.
Lane J, Jaensch R & Lynch R (1996) Western Australia. In: A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia (eds R Blackley, S Usback & K Langford). Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Canberra, 759–870.
 
Image: 
Garry Cook (ILC), Paul Baron (BAC) and Ron Barron (Cardabia manager) at Cardabia Creek Station.