Poor water quality threatens the health of the inshore areas of the Great Barrier Reef, with research showing that nutrient and sediment run-off into Reef catchments is a key contributor.
According to the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), sediment run-off into the Reef can smother coral and restrict the growth of light-dependent plants and animals.
To help tackle this issue, the Australian Government’s Reef Trust provides funding for Natural Resource Management (NRMs) groups, farmers, landowners, and other stakeholders to run projects that are delivering significant water quality benefits.
In the Bundaberg Region, the Kolan River has been responsible for approximately 18,540 tonnes of sediment entering the Reef since 1956. The large, crumbling streambank was a major contributor with increased erosion occurring during rainfall events.
Starting in 2020, the Discovery Coast project run by the Burnett Mary Regional Group (BMRG) aimed to reduce sediment run-off into the river by stabilising 830 metres of riverbank.
This involved cutting the cliff face back to a shallower gradient to reduce how much sediment is removed by overland water flow. Large tree trunks were then drilled into the ground to stabilise the riverbank.
To ensure Traditional Owner knowledge and practices were integrated, BMRG collaborated with the Gidarjil Development Corporation who revegetated the site through traditional seeding and plantings native to the area.
As a result, it is estimated that the project will help prevent 5000 tonnes of sediment entering the Kolan River and reaching the Reef each year.
BMRG CEO, Sheila Charlesworth, said it is providing benefits for both the reef and local landowners.
“The stabilisation of the riverbank already proved effective in reducing sediment to the Great Barrier Reef during heavy rainfall,” Ms Charlesworth said.
“It will also prevent erosion and further land degradation for the landholder.”
“We would like to see this effective approach expanded to other sites of concern.”
The Kolan River site work forms part of a Burnett Mary Regional Group led project through the Discovery Coast Consortium. The group includes members from Central Queensland University’s Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC), LESS industries, Gidarjil Development Corporation and Alluvium Consulting.
The Discovery Coast project is funded through the Australian Government’s Reef Trust—our flagship investment program to support the delivery of the Reef 2050 plan.
It is a great example of the valuable water quality projects being delivered under the Plan, which is Australia’s overarching framework for protecting the Great Barrier Reef now, and into the future.
Learn more about the Discovery Cost Project.