THE Australian Government is providing a total of $4.86 million to five organisations – including more than $780,000 to Cape York Natural Resource Management – to address gully erosion in the Great Barrier Reef catchments.
“These gullies are located in some of the highest risk areas of sediment erosion for the Great Barrier Reef,” said Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt.
“Under the Reef Trust Gully Erosion Control Programme, five organisations will undertake projects in six priority catchments to reduce the erosion of sediment into the Great Barrier Reef by supporting activities such as fencing-off gully areas, revegetation, adoption of improved land management practices, and gully reshaping where appropriate,” said Minister Hunt.
Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch welcomed the news.
“This is the first targeted investment under the Reef Trust that addresses the considerable challenge that gully erosion presents to the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.
“We’re providing $780,248 to Cape York Natural Resource Management to perform gully remediation with the aim of a 50 per cent reduction in gully erosion from the Normanby catchment in Lakefield National Park. The funding, through the $140 million Reef Trust, will involve exclusion fencing of the sub-catchment, strategic gully stabilisation works, and direct seeding of native grasses and trees.”
Other organisations to receive funding include the Mary River Catchment Coordination Association ($808,760), Greening Australia ($962,550), NQ Dry Tropics (906,000), and Fitzroy Basin Association (two grants of $702,883.50 each for two separate sub-catchments).
Mr Entsch said the most effective way to protect the reef is to ensure it is healthy, which will help it withstand the effects of climate change – and the Coalition Government was doing this with actions over the short, medium and long-term.
“In the short-term, we’re working to boost coral health through actions such as culling the predator crown-of-thorns starfish on high value reefs and ensuring reef users comply with the rules so that biodiversity is protected,” he said.
“Over the medium-term, our Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan will increase reef resilience by improving water quality.
“Over the long-term, the Paris climate agreement set out the global and national targets needed to protect all reefs. We’re already meeting and beating our target for 2020, and we fully expect other countries to do the same,” said Mr Entsch.
The Australian Government is also investing an additional $600,000 over three years through the National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) to evaluate the outcomes of the gully erosion programme. NESP researchers will investigate the effectiveness of remediation techniques, identify the influence of treatments on agricultural production and measure the reduction of sediment loss from treated areas.
Further information on the programme and successful projects can be found at: www.environment.gov.au/marine/gbr/reef-trust/gully-erosion-control