Water for Rivers Project
The Water for Rivers Project is a willow control program for the Bombala-Delegate River catchment.
With whole-scale willow-removal undertaken on the Snowy River, strong community networks and the Bombala-Delegate River system being the largest remaining tributary catchment in the Snowy Catchment with significant willow infestations, the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority (now part of South East Local Land Services) applied to the Water for Rivers group to continue willow control works and seek an additional 500 hectares or 1100 ML of water savings for the Snowy River.
In 2012 the funding grant was successful with $1,000,000 received from Water for Rivers Group for a three year willow program in the Bombala-Delegate catchment (with a focus on the Bombala, Delegate, Little Plains and Coolumbooka Rivers).
The project is occurring in close partnership with Snowy River Interstate Landcare (SRILC), Bombala Council and local Landcare groups. A project officer has been engaged through SRILC to assist with delivery of on-ground outcomes.
Not just about willow control
The poisoning and part removal of willows from regional streams is a subject that creates much debate in the community. Unless removal programs are staged carefully and are based on community engagement, there can be side-effects to tree removal that last in the landscape and the memories of affected people.
Our advice remains simple and that it is to be fully informed about landscape ventures before you consent, or otherwise, to be a participant. Is there a contract in place? Does it address your needs? What is the agreed investment and follow-up? Is the Agency commitment clearly documented and in plain language?
This project was intended to accept the lessons learned through past Landcare projects and the Snowy River Rehabilitation Project. This included understanding that broad scale willow removal can result in ‘blackberries exploding’ once shading is removed. In order to address this issue a coordinated approach to blackberry control is also being undertaken in high risk areas. Landholders are being engaged in a 50:50 incentives program currently being funded through Catchment Action NSW.
In addition, opportunities are being sought to engage landholders in broader river rehabilitation outcomes post willow removal including re-vegetation, riparian fencing and protection of remnant native vegetation. Additional opportunities for these works with a biodiversity outcome are also being made available through the Snowy River ‘Weaving the Web’ Biodiversity Project currently being coordinated by South East Local Land Services and SRILC.
The 2012-2013 financial year of the project achieved 20 km of willow control along the Coolumbooka, Little Plains and Delegate Rivers and engaged more than 14 landholders. An additional 82 hectares of follow-up willow and blackberry control was also achieved along the Little Plains River through four landholder agreements. In response to landholder concerns, additional dead tree removal was undertaken in recent times. This is an important step in a willow control program in order to protect infrastructure and safety.
In 2014, approximately 70 landholders provided consent to have willow removal undertaken on their property or river frontage to the Bombala River. Despite cooperation and response from landholders, the treatment of willows on the Bombala River has not been undertaken as planned. Regrettably this is out of the hands of SRILC, and further information on Water for Rivers Project may be available from South East Local Land services – Cooma Office: Phone 02 64521455.
NB: Participation in the willow removal program is voluntary. As a Landholder you should always ensure that appropriate Access Consent is in place and that you are satisfied with any proposal to treat or remove willows, including restoration works on your property or adjoining river frontage. Concerns or complaints should be referred to the Local Land Services in the first instance. If you have any unresolved concerns about these matters, please contact Snowy River Interstate Landcare Committee for assistance to resolve any issues that you may have.
As mentioned above, there are a range of expectations in the community and there is a growing awareness for the need to have diversity and resilience in the landscapes that we manage.
These days, it is universal that Federal funding will only support the planting of native species. However it is worth being aware of the landscape options available to landholders through self-funded property planning. The Flood Creek Non Nativist Landcare Group and others represent alternative points of view, and experiences. This Group promotes the notion of Australian landscape resilience by having a blend of native and non-native tree species, and their experiences and information may be viewed at the following link.