‘Rivers of Carbon’ works in partnership with landholders and other organisations in the Southern Tablelands to link native vegetation and previously rehabilitated sites to form intact riparian corridors – creating ‘rivers of carbon’. The project is also promoting the Carbon Farming Initiative which seeks to enable profitability and biodiversity gains to be made in these highly productive areas.
Our Rivers of Carbon (RoC) team is using science and local knowledge to identify sites for on-ground works, with a particular focus on restoring and linking habitats for threatened species. Since we started, we have been incredibly busy. We have been overwhelmed with requests for involvement by landholders keen to work with us. There are now 39 RoC sites, and 24 of those have works well underway. Larger riparian sites are being given first priority so we can achieve outcomes such as better water quality, biodiversity, production benefits and carbon sequestration.
We are particularly excited about the new site (photo below), on Jeir Creek (a tributary of the Murrumbidgee), because the landholder has agreed to put in a fence at least 25–30 m from the stream to create a riparian corridor.
The Jeir Creek site has high recovery potential, with few weeds, some existing vegetation, and a stable river bed. In addition, the site links to previous work upstream and downstream, enabling us to fill in the gaps to connect the creek and create a continuous riparian corridor.
So far, we have a mixture of riparian and wetland sites, with a few of these linking to remnant grassy box woodland or shrubby forest. We also have some gully erosion sites that we are stabilising to prevent sediment travelling into the river. Most of the RoC sites will be planted with tubestock. Sites cannot be direct seeded if they have existing high fertility or grass competition, and are inaccessible to machinery.
Protecting threatened species is another aim of our project. In one of our sites, Pudman Creek, we had a recent thrill when we found Southern Pygmy Perch at a range of ages. This is significant because the population in the Pudman were translocated in an effort to save the species from the predatory impacts of the Redfin fish. The mix of ages means that the Southern Pygmy’s are breeding, and this is a hopeful sign that these little fish may be on the road to recovery.
The project location is the upper Murrumbidgee and Lachlan catchments (important tributaries in the Murray Darling Basin), with priority given to areas with populations of threatened species (eg. Southern Pygmy Perch & Macquarie Perch Southern Bell Frog) that are reliant on riparian areas, as well as sites that are critical linkages between areas of threatened intact riparian vegetation.
Another priority will be linking past projects such as Boorowa River Recovery – Greening Australia, Bidgee Banks and ACT River Rescue (to name a few). Rather than reinventing the wheel, our team will work with motivated people to consolidate and extend past efforts, creating riparian corridors that link into the wider landscape and enabling species such as the Southern Bell Frog and the Superb Parrot to move more freely. Priorities will also encompass extensive riparian works undertaken by the Murrumbidgee and Lachlan Catchment Management Authorities.
“We wanted to protect the waterways and provided a habitat for all the wildlife which lives along the river corridor… the river is such a real living thing. Our second motivation was purely practical and production focused, we can now graze the area which is fenced off from the river which provides more pasture fr our sheep and keeps the weeds under control. Jane Major, ‘Yurrah'”
Story-telling is an integral part of our project, and this year we have worked with four groups of landholders (shown in the photographs) to share their stories about being involved in the Rivers of Carbon project. We publish the stories on the Rivers of Carbon website, publications and through social media so they be widely shared and accessed. We believe that letting people know about how people are being successful in managing land, biodiversity, rivers and carbon is very important. As a result we invest in a range of communication approaches to enable people to learn from both landholders and scientists about how to create and manage rivers and riparian areas for multiple benefits.
Continuing this theme of widespread dissemination of experience and knowledge, in 2014 the Rivers of Carbon team will work with more landholders, share more stories and produce an edition of RipRap magazine focusing on ‘Climate, Carbon and Riparian Connectivity’. We will also run some practical workshops about sequestering carbon to boost environmental and economic on-farm benefits. Sharing stories involves us listening to you as well. Please visit our website and share your knowledge: we have recently developed a facility to enable anyone to register and upload content relating to the Rivers of Carbon project.
Our aim is to truly deliver on Joseph Badaracco’s philosophy that:
‘In today’s environment, hoarding knowledge ultimately erodes your power. If you know something very important, the way to get power is by actually sharing it.’
The RoC project is funded through the Australian Government’s Biodiversity Fund, and is managed by the Australian River Restoration Centre, working in partnership with Greening Australia Capital Region.
The latest news about this project, and others like it, is available on the Rivers of Carbon website.