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Water for rivers project transforms river systems

South East Local Land Services has recently completed the five year, ‘Water for Rivers’ willow control program for the Bombala-Delegate catchment.

Funded by the Water for Rivers Group and Catchment Action NSW, the $1.4 million program (plus matching in-kind contributions from land managers) completed over 165 km of willow and 50 km of blackberry control along the Delegate, Little Plains and Coolumbooka River systems.

“We wanted to achieve landscape scale willow control for these river systems, something that would have not been possible without the funding and in-kind contributions” said Leon Miners, South East Local Land Services, Senior Natural Resource Advisor.

The program, a collaboration between South East Local Land Services and over 115 land managers, represents a major achievement.

More than 95% of willows along each of the river systems have been controlled. The works have consolidated the efforts of land managers along the Delegate and Little Plains Rivers and Craigie Landcare Group which have been going on for the past 20 years.

“After completion of the five year program it is fantastic to see significant freeing up of the river. Channel choking has decreased, water quality has improved and native vegetation is recovering.

"Some landholders have also noted an increase in platypus and fish movement.

“Flow has also improved, supporting recent studies by the CSIRO which have shown that willows growing in-stream can use more than 5,000,000 litres of water per hectare of willow canopy area every year,” Leon said.

The success of the program was recognised by the NSW Government, with it being a top three nomination for the Office of Environment and Heritage’s 2016 Green Globe Awards.

Whilst the funded program has been completed, South East Local Land Services is advising land managers to remain vigilant in controlling any willow re-growth that may emerge.

Willows can still enter these systems through tributary catchments and may re-infest the system. It is important that all land managers participate in controlling re-growth not only to prevent spread on their property but also neighbours downstream.

Replanting river banks and fencing to manage stock access is also encouraged to improve regeneration and recovery of these river systems.

For further information on this project or information on best practice control methods for re-growth please contact Leon Miners, South East Local Land Services on (02) 6452 1455.

ENDS

Media Contact: Leon Miners, 0427 212 428, South East Local Land Services Senior Natural Resources Advisor