State of the Environment Report title
2 0 0 4

2004 Report



Palerang

Riparian condition

Indicator description

Results for this indicator are also available for  

What the results tell us for Palerang

| Condition | Threats | Protection |

No quantitative information was available to assess change in riparian condition across Palerang Council Area during the current reporting period. However in the last year of the period, major rivers in the area were reported to have high proportions of native riparian vegetation removed or erosion problems.

During the reporting period, five threatening processes which impact on riparian condition were listed under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and the Fisheries Management Act 1994. Willow infestation was one of the major threats to riparian zones in the council area and the most costly threat to remedy.

Council, community groups and other organisations undertook at least 19 projects between July 2000 and June 2004 to rehabilitate riparian areas within the council area. Council also supported various willow removal activities by community groups.

Condition of riparian zones in the council area

During the previous reporting period, riparian vegetation of catchments within the council area varied from low to high stress, with most of the major catchments being in the medium to high stress category (OCE 2000). In terms of geomorphology, the Endrick and Mid Shoalhaven rivers had a low stress rating and the Mongarlowe and Upper Shoalhaven rivers a medium stress rating. All other rivers within major catchments in the council area had a high geomorphological stress rating (OCE 2000).

The extent to which the condition of riparian vegetation, channel modification and streambank disturbance across the council area changed in the current reporting period is not known, as no comprehensive assessment of riparian condition was undertaken for the period and no other detailed shire-wide information was available. At the end of the reporting period, many of the major river systems in the council area had high proportions of native riparian vegetation removed and erosion problems (see Table 1).

Table 1. Riparian condition of major river systems within Palerang Council Area
SubcatchmentRiparian condition
Back and Round Mountain CreeksRiparian vegetation along most major streams in this catchment has been totally cleared. High average density of gully erosion
Boro CreekApproximately 60% of native riparian vegetation removed. Streambank erosion recorded in most of creek
Braidwood RiverApproximately 60% of riparian vegetation removed. High average density of gully erosion.
Endrick RiverNo issues
Jerrabattagula CreekApproximately 49% of native vegetation removed. Streambank erosion in upper Shoalhaven River within this catchment
Mid Shoalhaven RiverHigh average density of gully erosion
Mongarlowe RiverApproximately 35% of native riparian vegetation removed. Gully erosion an issue.
Reedy CreekApproximately 50% of native riparian vegetation removed. High average density of gully erosion
Upper Shoalhaven RiverApproximately 40% of native vegetation removed. Gully erosion has been controlled in some parts of the catchment.

Source: SCA and DIPNR 2004

In some parts of the council area, willow infestation in creek beds is leading to bank erosion, sedimentation and flooding due to choking, and is causing the most damage to stream health (Bromley 2005). The majority of Jerrabomberra Creek's riparian areas are reported to be degraded and impoverished (Maunsell Australia 2005). This creek flows predominantly through the Queanbeyan City Council Area and the ACT, with a small portion within Palerang Council Area.

Threats to riparian condition

Two processes relating to riparian condition have been listed as key threatening processes in the state (see Table 2) by the NSW Scientific Committee under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. Final determinations for both of these were made during the current reporting period. During the same period the NSW Fisheries Scientific Committee also listed, under the Fisheries Management Act 1994, three key threatening processes relevant to riparian areas (Table 1).

Table 2. Listed threatening processes in NSW relevant to riparian condition in Palerang Council Area
Name of threatening processDate of final determination or gazettal
Alteration to the natural flow regimes of rivers, streams, floodplains and wetlands (DEC 2005a)Final: 31 May 2002
Clearing of native vegetation (DEC 2005b)Final: 21 September 2001
Degradation of native riparian vegetation along NSW watercourses (DPI 2005a)Gazetted: 16 November 2001
Installation and operation of instream structures and other mechanisms that alter the natural flow regimes of rivers and streams (DPI 2005b)Gazetted: 24 May 2002
Removal of large woody debris (DPI 2005c)Gazetted: 2 November 2001

The impacts of these key threatening processes on riparian condition and waterways include (DEC 2005a, b; DPI 2005a–c):

The main threats to the condition of riparian vegetation in the council area continue to be from stock access for watering, illegal clearing, overgrazing, riverbank erosion and invasion by weeds—especially the growth of willows (Bromley 2005; Maunsell Australia 2005; MCG 2005). Within the towns, especially Bungendore, the willow problem has a social and economic cost due to the frequent flooding from willow-choked streams (Bromley 2005). Providing for off-stream stock watering, and controlling and prosecuting illegal clearing, are relatively simple and inexpensive compared to the problem of willow infestation which is by far the most expensive to remedy (Bromley 2005).

Future pressures or threats to riparian condition within major catchments in the council area include gully erosion, new rural residential developments, riparian vegetation clearance and mining under gold prospecting lease (SCA and DIPNR 2004).

What is being done to protect riparian zones?

State government activities

The Healthy Rivers Commission made a number of recommendations related to the management of the Shoalhaven River following its inquiry into the Shoalhaven River System (HRC 1999). The NSW Government's Statement of Intent for the Shoalhaven River System (NSW Government n.d.) supported the Commission's recommendations to undertake weed management in the riverine corridor zone within the catchment and to fence, revegetate and provide off-stream watering points for sensitive areas in riparian Crown leases. The latter recommendation was to be considered through the Sustaining the Catchments Regional Environmental Plan (NSW Government, n.d.).

A draft of the Sustaining the Catchments Regional Environmental Plan was released for comment in March 2004 (SCA and DIPNR 2004). Water quality objectives outlined in this document are based on Healthy Rivers Commission recommendations from its inquiries including that for the Shoalhaven River System. The regional environmental plan had not been finalised or implemented by the end of the reporting period.

Council and community activities

During the current reporting period council provided support to landcare and catchment management action groups for the replacement of willows with native vegetation in selected areas and a recent willow poisoning programme in the upper Shoalhaven catchment which was funded by a Landcare grant.

Community groups, council and other organisations undertook a range of other projects during the period that enhanced riparian condition in the council area; a selection of projects is shown in Table 3.

Table 3. Projects* enhancing riparian condition in Palerang Council Area, July 2000 to June 2004
Project areaPurposeSource of grant#
Alnwick Place Gully, Burra CreekRevegetation, fencing, erosion mitigation, weed controlNatural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2003–04
Araluen CreekStreambed controls, erosion control, fencing, weed managementNatural Heritage Trust 2001–02
Envirofund, 2002–04
Burra CreekControl and removal of Silver Poplar (Populus alba), revegetationNatural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2003–04
Gum Gully CreekRestorationNatural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2002–03
Molonglo River, Captains FlatWillow (Salix spp) and other weed control, revegetationNatural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2003–04
Mulloon CreekRiparian stock exclusion fencing, native plantings, erosion control, alternative stock watering pointsNatural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2002–03
Reedy Creek catchmentRehabilitation and re-establishment of native vegetationNatural Heritage Trust 2000–02
Shoalhaven River, Mount Elrington PlainNative planting, riparian stock exclusion fencing, alternative stock watering pointsNatural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2002–03
Spring Creek (tributary of Burra Creek)Revegetation, riparian fencingNatural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2003–04
Stony, Big Ben and Snowball catchmentRevegetationNatural Heritage Trust 2000–01
Sunnybrae CreekBank stabilisation, stock exclusion fencing, re-establishment of groundcover, revegetation, silt trapsNatural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2003–04
Taylors and Allianoyomyiga CreeksRemnant vegetation protection and enhancementNatural Heritage Trust 2000–01
Upper Queanbeyan / Bredbo RiversNative vegetation estabilishment trialNatural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2002–03
Upper ShoalhavenDemonstrating the remediation of stream degradationNSW Environmental Trust 2002–03
Upper Shoalhaven RiverStream degradation surveyNatural Heritage Trust 2001–02
Upper Shoalhaven, Upper Deua catchmentsRiparian restoration incentive programNatural Heritage Trust 2001–02
Upper Shoalhaven, Upper Deua catchmentsConservation of remnant vegetation and riparian zonesNatural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2002–03

* More information about these projects can be found on the NHT website and the Environmental Trust website; # Council, community groups or other organisations may have contributed additional funding.

Other activities

Two projects ('Bidgee Banks', and 'Beyond Bidgee Banks') which targeted streambank erosion hotspots and remnant vegetation in the mid and upper Murrumbidgee River resulted in work being undertaken in Palerang Council Area during the current reporting period (see Table 4). The projects were initiated by Greening Australia ACT and South East NSW (which jointly funded them with the Natural Heritage Trust) and were undertaken in partnership with the NSW Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (formerly Department of Land and Water Conservation) and riparian landholders. Project funding amounted to $36,210 with additional community contributions totalling $42,500 for the current reporting period within the council area.

Table 4. 'Bidgee Banks' and 'Beyond Bidgee Banks' works in Palerang Council Area, July 2000 to June 2004.
WorksAmount
Kilometres of fencing8.95 km
Expenditure on earthworks$50
Number of tubestock planted4,795
Kilometres of direct seeding0 km
Area of vegetation established9 ha
Area of remnant vegetation protected or enhanced24 ha
Expenditure on alternative stock watering points$2,450
Area of river restored31.5 ha
Length of streambank restored7.2 km

Source: Greening Australia ACT and South East NSW

In late 2004, the Molonglo Catchment Group in conjunction with the Southern ACT Catchment Group, Environment ACT, Landcare and Envirofund, developed an indigenous planting list for Jerrabomberra Creek. This list defines sections along the stream and recommends suitable plants to use when revegetating these areas (QCC 2004; Maunsell Australia 2005). The Molonglo Catchment Group has developed a catchment strategy for 2004–2024 which includes a variety of actions relating to rehabilitation and protection of riparian areas (MCG 2005).

Nationally funded activities undertaken during the reporting period in the Murrumbidgee and Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority areas (DIPNR 2004) may also have enhanced riparian condition in the council area.

About the data

Data were provided by Palerang Council. Information on the Bidgee Banks projects was provided by Greening Australia ACT and South East NSW.

References

Bromley, K (2005) Environmental Coordinator, Palerang Council, personal communication.

DEC—see Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW).

Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) (2005a) NSW Scientific Committee—Final Determination, Alteration to the Natural Flow Regimes of Rivers, Streams, Floodplains and Wetlands—Key Threatening Process Declaration, NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, viewed 2 August 2005, http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/Alteration+to+the+ natural+flow+regimes+of+rivers%2C+streams%2C+floodplains+and+wetlands+key+ threatening+process+declaration.

Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) (2005b) NSW Scientific Committee—Final Determination, Clearing of Native Vegetation—Key Threatening Process Declaration, NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, viewed 2 August 2005, http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/Clearing+of+native+vegetation+key +threatening+process+declaration.

Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (NSW) (2004) 2003/04 Combined NSW Catchment Management Authorities Annual Report, Volume 1: CMA Activities and Achievements, Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources, Sydney.

Department of Primary Industries (NSW) (2005a) Fisheries Scientific Committee Recommendation—Degradation of Native Riparian Vegetation Along New South Wales Watercourses, NSW Department of Primary Industries, viewed 11 August 2005, http://www.fisheries.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/5287/FR19_rip_veg2.pdf.

Department of Primary Industries (NSW) (2005b) Fisheries Scientific Committee Recommendation—Installation and Operation of Instream Structures and Other Mechanisms that Alter Natural Flow Regimes of Rivers and Streams, NSW Department of Primary Industries, viewed 11 August 2005, http://www.fisheries.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/5284/FR21_dams.pdf.

Department of Primary Industries (NSW) (2005c) Fisheries Scientific Committee Recommendation—Removal of Large Woody Debris, NSW Department of Primary Industries, viewed 11 August 2005, http://www.fisheries.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/5263/FR18_snags_web.pdf.

DIPNR—see Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (NSW).

DPI—see Department of Primary Industries (NSW).

Healthy Rivers Commission of NSW (1999) Independent Inquiry into the Shoalhaven River System: Final Report July 1999. Healthy Rivers Commission of NSW, Sydney, viewed 14 September 2005, http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/programservices/pdf/shoalhaven_final.pdf.

HRC—see Healthy Rivers Commission of NSW.

Maunsell Australia (2005) Study on the Current State of Jerrabomberra Creek, report prepared for Queanbeyan City Council, Maunsell Australia Pty Ltd, Deakin, ACT, viewed 11 August 2005, http://www.qcc.nsw.gov.au/Documents/FDAEJQURLOE.pdf.

MCG—see Molonglo Catchment Group.

Molonglo Catchment Group (2005) Molonglo Catchment Strategy 2004–2024, Molonglo Catchment Group, viewed 11 August 2005, http://www.molonglocatchment.com.au/Documents/Catchment_Strategy/MCS_2005.pdf.

NSW Government (n.d.) Statement of Intent for the Shoalhaven River System, NSW Government, viewed 14 September 2005, http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/programservices/pdf/shoalhaven_soi.pdf.

OCE—see Office of the Commissioner for the Environment.

Office of the Commissioner for the Environment (2000) Australian Capital Region State of the Environment Report 2000, Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, Canberra (see Tallaganda—Riparian Vegetation and Streambank Disturbance indicators).

QCC—see Queanbeyan City Council.

Queanbeyan City Council (2004) Greater Queanbeyan City Council State of the Environment Report 2002–3 and 2003-4, Queanbeyan City Council, Queanbeyan.

SCA and DIPNR—see Sydney Catchment Authority and Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources.

Sydney Catchment Authority and Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (2004) Draft Report Sustaining the Catchments: The Regional Plan for the drinking water catchments of Sydney and adjacent regional centres, Sydney Catchment Authority and the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources, Sydney, viewed 14 September 2005, http://www.sca.nsw.gov.au/publications/70.html#download.