Wetland rehab work proving a success

[April 2016]

Rehabilitation work undertaken in February to protect a seasonal wetland in the West Kimberley is already showing positive results.

The work was part of a Rangelands NRM project funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme, aiming to increase the number of pastoralists adopting sustainable land management techniques to protect their natural resources. 

Rangelands NRM Project Manager Mel McDonald said Ecologically Sustainable Rangelands Management (ESRM) planning had taken place on Dampier Downs Station in 2014. The planning process helped to determine what was happening in the landscape and come up with solutions to address the causes.

The ‘waterfalls area’ was flagged as a priority issue to be tackled. 

It is at the termination of a large flood out area originating in the Edgar Range and was being drained by an eroded historical cut line. The old cut line had breached the dune responsible for ponding the water in the wetland.

“The water was flowing through the dune breach, exacerbating erosion and draining the wetland and surrounding areas,” Mrs McDonald said.

The rehabilitation work involved reducing water flow through the breached dune and the installation of fencing and an alternative watering point to enable initial destocking and subsequent careful management of the wetland area.

“We wanted to enable regeneration of the productive land system and wetland area to improve both grazing and environmental values,” Mrs McDonald said.

Station owner Anne Marie Huey said the preliminary dune repair was already proving successful and was holding water.

“This project came about as part of the larger ESRM plan. It changed the way we looked at it, from being a purely regeneration project – which is important but harder to justify financially – to being the first step to part of a larger management program,” she said.

“Even though the additional workload imposed by this project has been challenging, this incremental step has given us the confidence that we can address other long-standing issues on the station, particularly with funding assistance.”

She said further works will need completing in order to ensure the remedial works will withstand severe rainfall events.

Mrs McDonald said projects trialling innovative management techniques such as this were shared amongst other landholders through the West Kimberley LCDC enabling transfer of knowledge and ultimately sustainable use of natural resources between land managers in the region.

Image: Land system restoration project addresses erosion caused by a historical cut line. Photo by Anne Marie Huey