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Planting helps water quality



Ever wondered what the benefits to water quality are when you fence and plant out riparian areas? There are a number of practises that contribute to improving water quality - riparian management is one of these. Other practises include nutrient budgeting and correct effluent storage and management.

Riparian management can help mitigate the effects of land use on waterways. Riparian areas can help reduce nutrient (Nitrogen & Phosphorus), sediment and pathogen loading in water. This not only helps improve water quality, but also benefits the associated ecosystems that rely on the water.

Riparian management is not just about planting trees, but includes bankside erosion mitigation, natural events, maintenance of plant cover for weed management and stock exclusion.

Choosing plants depends on the issues particular to the waterway where the riparian area is being managed. Grasses work well as nutrient and sediment filters where runoff is a risk to water quality. Where erosion is likely to be a problem, large trees may be the choice for planting. To get the best out of riparian planting and management, it is likely that a variety of different size plants would be utilised.

Many people associate riparian areas with flowing water (rivers and creeks). Riparian management is just as relevant and important for wetlands. Wetland areas include open bodies of water and areas that pond very quickly after rain and springs. These wetland areas are usually nonproductive areas on farm, but are excellent for trapping sediments and nutrients.

Riparian areas that are fenced and planted out not only provide benefits for water quality and associated ecosystems but also benefit stock and pastures. Shelter for stock and pastures is beneficial during adverse weather events. Production losses (milk from stock, growth rates for pastures) can also be mitigated where adequate shelter is available.

Current and recent riparian projects:

GippsDairy is currently collaborating with the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA) on their Powlett River Integrated Catchment Management Project. Bass Coast Landcare Network, Parks Victoria, Agriculture Victoria, South Gippsland Shire Council and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) are also collaborating in this project.

The Powlett River catchment area covers 50,800 hectares and the focus of this project will be improving waterway health. This project will be running over the next 3 years.

Over the last four years, the WGCMA and Landcare have been working together to improve catchment health throughout Gippsland. Their primary focus has been revegetating rivers, creeks and wetlands. Currently, they are revegetating the Agnes River Gorge which is approximately 4 kilometres in length and 3,650 hectares in size. This project will not only improve adjacent land, benefit stock and pastures, it will also improve water quality and sediment run-off into the estuary in the Corner Inlet.

For more information on this project and recent projects, go to www.wgcma.vic.gov.au

For more information in Riparian areas, contact Robyn McLean at GippsDairy at robyn.mclean@gippsdairy.com.au or your local Landcare group.

For more detailed information and a printable PDF guide on riparian revegetation, go to www.greeningaustralia.org.au and search ‘revegetation guide for temperate riparian lands’.


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