What the results tell us for Palerang
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).
|Back and Round Mountain Creeks||Riparian vegetation along most major streams in this catchment has been totally cleared. High average density of gully erosion|
|Boro Creek||Approximately 60% of native riparian vegetation removed. Streambank erosion recorded in most of creek|
|Braidwood River||Approximately 60% of riparian vegetation removed. High average density of gully erosion.|
|Endrick River||No issues|
|Jerrabattagula Creek||Approximately 49% of native vegetation removed. Streambank erosion in upper Shoalhaven River within this catchment|
|Mid Shoalhaven River||High average density of gully erosion|
|Mongarlowe River||Approximately 35% of native riparian vegetation removed. Gully erosion an issue.|
|Reedy Creek||Approximately 50% of native riparian vegetation removed. High average density of gully erosion|
|Upper Shoalhaven River||Approximately 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).
|Name of threatening process||Date 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):
- bank erosion
- impairment of important ecosystem services for fish and invertebrates (e.g. removal of refuges used during flooding or drought or removal of spawning sites)
- reduced nutrient filtering capacity
- increased light penetration of the waterbody and loss of shade and shelter for fish
- reduced inputs of organic carbon (such as twigs and leaves)
- changes to stream behaviour.
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.
|Project area||Purpose||Source of grant#|
|Alnwick Place Gully, Burra Creek||Revegetation, fencing, erosion mitigation, weed control||Natural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2003–04|
|Araluen Creek||Streambed controls, erosion control, fencing, weed management||Natural Heritage Trust 2001–02|
|Burra Creek||Control and removal of Silver Poplar (Populus alba), revegetation||Natural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2003–04|
|Gum Gully Creek||Restoration||Natural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2002–03|
|Molonglo River, Captains Flat||Willow (Salix spp) and other weed control, revegetation||Natural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2003–04|
|Mulloon Creek||Riparian stock exclusion fencing, native plantings, erosion control, alternative stock watering points||Natural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2002–03|
|Reedy Creek catchment||Rehabilitation and re-establishment of native vegetation||Natural Heritage Trust 2000–02|
|Shoalhaven River, Mount Elrington Plain||Native planting, riparian stock exclusion fencing, alternative stock watering points||Natural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2002–03|
|Spring Creek (tributary of Burra Creek)||Revegetation, riparian fencing||Natural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2003–04|
|Stony, Big Ben and Snowball catchment||Revegetation||Natural Heritage Trust 2000–01|
|Sunnybrae Creek||Bank stabilisation, stock exclusion fencing, re-establishment of groundcover, revegetation, silt traps||Natural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2003–04|
|Taylors and Allianoyomyiga Creeks||Remnant vegetation protection and enhancement||Natural Heritage Trust 2000–01|
|Upper Queanbeyan / Bredbo Rivers||Native vegetation estabilishment trial||Natural Heritage Trust , Envirofund 2002–03|
|Upper Shoalhaven||Demonstrating the remediation of stream degradation||NSW Environmental Trust 2002–03|
|Upper Shoalhaven River||Stream degradation survey||Natural Heritage Trust 2001–02|
|Upper Shoalhaven, Upper Deua catchments||Riparian restoration incentive program||Natural Heritage Trust 2001–02|
|Upper Shoalhaven, Upper Deua catchments||Conservation of remnant vegetation and riparian zones||Natural 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.
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.
|Kilometres of fencing||8.95 km|
|Expenditure on earthworks||$50|
|Number of tubestock planted||4,795|
|Kilometres of direct seeding||0 km|
|Area of vegetation established||9 ha|
|Area of remnant vegetation protected or enhanced||24 ha|
|Expenditure on alternative stock watering points||$2,450|
|Area of river restored||31.5 ha|
|Length of streambank restored||7.2 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.
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.