In partnership with neighbouring councils, landholders and environmental groups, Scenic Rim Regional Council is working to turn the tide to improve the condition of waterways in the Albert, Logan and Bremer catchments.
While the release this week of Healthy Land and Water’s 21st annual Report Card on the health of South East Queensland ecosystems showed many of the region’s 18 major catchments are struggling against the impacts of population growth, Mayor Greg Christensen said there were some encouraging results for the Scenic Rim region.
“Analysis of data compiled from July 2020 to June 2021 has shown that the Albert catchment has improved slightly and remains in good condition and that the Logan River catchment is in fair condition,” he said.
“Between 2015 and 2021, we have seen the condition of the Logan catchment improve from a D to a C+ and the Albert from a C- to a B.
“While the Bremer is still considered to be in poor condition, and there is more work to be done, it has seen some improvement from a D- in 2015 to a D in 2021.
“The job of improving and protecting the Bremer River is too big for any one council or community group, and the Bremer River Catchment Action Plan, which is part of the Resilient Rivers Initiative, is a coordinated approach by the Scenic Rim, Brisbane and Ipswich councils to protect the catchment from the ongoing impacts of urban development, severe weather events and flooding.
“While we can’t stop severe weather events from impacting the Bremer catchment, more can be done to boost the resilience of our rivers and creeks to prevent widespread loss of valuable agricultural soils and damage to bridges and culverts.”
The establishment of a Rural Partnerships Network within the Bremer catchment aims to improve waterway health in priority locations, with projects being considered for 2022 including potential off-stream watering sites, weed treatment and bank stabilisation works.
As part of the Resilient Rivers Initiative delivered through the Council of Mayors South East Queensland, Scenic Rim Regional Council is also working with Logan City Council to target riverbank improvements through the Logan-Albert Catchment Action Plan.
Key stakeholders and landowners have been working on projects to reduce the risk of sediment movement from the catchment, which has a downstream impact on the Logan and Albert Rivers and Moreton Bay.
Riverbank restoration work has included weed management, revegetation of riparian areas and stock fencing, with landholder gatherings and workshops providing opportunities for community involvement in projects.
“With an area of some 3,800 km2, the Logan-Albert catchment is the third largest in South East Queensland, starting in the Main Ranges of the New South Wales border and flowing into Moreton Bay,” Cr Christensen said.
“Traditionally a rural catchment area, it is now experiencing significant urban development requiring the proactive engagement of councils, landowners and community organisations to protect its waterways.”
Catchments across the Scenic Rim are also benefiting from Council’s environmental initiatives, such as the Million Trees Program, which has seen the planting of more than 632,500 trees through 1,000 projects, many of which have been in areas surrounding waterways.
Through Land for Wildlife partnerships with Scenic Rim residents, some 13,041 hectares of land have been retained as habitat for native plants and animals and a further 1,915 hectares are under restoration.
The Scenic Rim Rivers Improvement Trust’s Weed Management Program has focused on weeds which pose the greatest threat to water health, farm biosecurity, productivity and biodiversity and this year $60,000 was allocated to works to protect native vegetation in riparian areas from the invasive Cat’s Claw Creeper and Chinese Celtis.
“By competing for space and smothering native species, these invasive weeds contribute to the loss of valuable topsoil, reduce the productivity of agricultural land and negatively impact biodiversity,” Cr Christensen said.
“Through the Scenic Rim Rivers Improvement Trust, we have continued to support rural landholders in tackling infestations of invasive weeds to enhance the quality of waterways for the wider Scenic Rim community and Moreton Bay.”