Healthy Land and Water is calling on all candidates for the Queensland election to commit to supporting ongoing natural resource management (NRM) work in the regions.
In the face of reduced support from successive State and Federal governments, Healthy Land and Water and the State’s 13 other natural resource management groups, represented by the peak body, NRM Regions Queensland (NRMRQ), say the future management of Queensland’s natural resources is under threat.
NRM groups work on the frontline in the defence against major threats to Queensland, holding back the tide of noxious weeds and their calamitous effect on production, and waging an ongoing war on feral animals and their impact on primary production with species such as feral pigs becoming a potentially uncontrollable vector in the spread of contagious disease.
Reduced funding has left NRM groups’ in a parlous situation, potentially leaving Queensland open to the threats on many fronts brought about by the reduction of Government and NGO services.
This reduction of support has forced job losses, a reduction in efficiencies of scale, a loss of expertise in the regions and a reduced ability to complete essential NRM work.
NRM groups fulfil an important role supporting Queensland’s primary producers, agribusinesses and communities.
Coastal NRM groups improve the health of the rivers and landscapes of coastal ecosystems and work on projects to reduce the outflow of nutrients and sediment so damaging to the already threatened Great Barrier Reef, while inland groups rise to the production challenges of weeds, feral animals and grazing pressures.
Healthy Land and Water has proven the effectiveness of works performed by NRM groups most prominently through its Mulgowie Riverbank Restoration Project at Laidley Creek in the Lockyer Valley.
During major floods in 2013, large sections of Laidley Creek were torn apart by floodwaters and the creek broke its banks and inundated nearby farmland, washing away valuable topsoil. Mulgowie Farming Company, which lies on the bank of the creek, was forced to spend over $1m to replace soil lost in the flood.
In response, Healthy Land and Water partnered with Port of Brisbane, Queensland Urban Utilities, local government and landholders on a project to repair and build resilience into the damaged Laidley Creek by planting vegetation, installing flow reduction devices and reinforcing banks with rock chutes and other natural infrastructure.
When floodwater caused by ex-TC Debbie inundated Lockyer Valley in March 2017, restored sections of the creek performed extremely well and more sediment than planned was stopped from entering the waterway.
The success of the project showcased the effectiveness of these natural resource management projects and highlighted the need for more support and funding to implement similar projects throughout Queensland.
The bleeding of funding for natural resource management and the specialist groups who deliver it is a concern for all Queenslanders, not just landholders in the bush, but urban people along the coastal strip, including residents in the south-east corner who wish to see Queensland and its future safe from current and future threats.
The 2017 Queensland election campaign offers politicians and candidates an opportunity to reaffirm their support for natural resource management in the State.
NRMRQ is asking all candidates standing in the State election to undertake to support the ongoing work that these groups carry out, ensuring a viable future for all Queenslanders.
Queenslanders need a guarantee that our magnificent landscapes, rivers, ocean and reef systems that we have enjoyed and benefited from for generations, remain for our grandchildren and beyond.
All Queensland election candidates are being challenged to ‘stand up for Queensland’ and support policy that ensures the ongoing effectiveness of these vital NRM groups.