Those land managers whose properties are adjacent to a river or stream are encouraged to protect the bed and banks of the waterway and establish riparian vegetation. This is not only in their best interests as it :-
- Helps provide a clean water supply for their domestic and stock use
- Provides security for stock, preventing them from traversing the waterway during low flows
- When the vegetation is established, provides excellent protection from wind and sun for domestic stock
- Improves the harbor for good insects which is valuable for controlling insect pests in crops and pastures
- Increases the value of the land
But importantly protecting the bed and banks also improves the overall water quality in the waterway for everyone, including native animals such as the platypus, as the vegetation grows, this decreases evaporation from the waterway. An healthy riparian vegetation corridor is a vital link for native animals to use to move across the landscape and a refuge for when the going gets tough such as during a drought or wild fire.
The recognised guidelines suggest that the best width for a buffer along the waterway is between 20 and 50 m. In areas which are flood prone, any fencing of this area can be problematic and there are now some exciting fence designs which allow for easy collapse and repair after a flood.
Rivers of Carbon have developed a DIY Stream Condition checklist that uses photographs and explanations to describe what riparian areas in poor, moderate and good condition look like.
The Barrabool Hills Landcare Group and its members over the last 25 years have partnered with a number of organisations including the state and federal government and the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority to protect the bed and banks of the Barwon, Waurn Ponds Creek and Merrawarp Creek.
The upper reaches of the Merrawarp Creek have seen a major landscape change over the years due to the efforts of the landholders and the landcare community
Below and to the right great before and after photos of the Reardon’s landcare project at the headwaters of the Merrawarp Creek.
Waurn Ponds Creek
Similarly the Landcare group and landholders have been progressively protecting the ephemeral Waurn Ponds Creek which rises on the eastern slopes of Mt Moriac.
Before( 2013) and after( 2019) photos of Harvey’s landcare project on the flanks of Mt Moriac
This stream has been identified as one of the few remaining refuges of the Yarra Pygmy Perch ( see image below) a tiny threatened fish species.
Substantial gains have also been made in protecting the banks of the Barwon along the mid reaches.
In many instances, land holders are also supported to provide off stream watering for stock, with a number taking the opportunity to improve the water use efficiency of their properties with windmills, solar pumps, tanks, pipes and troughs. A win for the environment and also farm management
The outcome is that once badly contaminated “sandy beaches” are once again becoming filters and erosion buffers. See image to the left of a stock watering point now “beach” 10 years after being fenced off from domestic stock.
Photos credit Kaye Rodden
Other programs include: