In 2018, Bathurst Regional Council was successful in receiving funding from the NSW State Governments Environmental Trust for the project titled ‘Rehabilitation of the Macquarie River Riparian Corridor’. To be completed over a three-year period, the project aims to rehabilitate and improve riparian vegetation condition along 1km of the Macquarie Wambuul River to connect previously completed riparian rehabilitation projects and existing habitat areas.
By connecting these important areas, the project will significantly increase the extent of habitat along the river for a wide range of native species such as the Grey-headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) and Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus). In doing so, the project will assist in addressing key threats to the recovery of listed endangered species such as the Boorolong Frog (Litoria booroolongensis) and the Murray Cod (Maccullochella peelii).
Platypus in the Macquarie Wambuul River © DJM Australia Photography Grey-headed Flying Fox © DJM Australia Photography
Through involvement and education, the project aims to create a greater awareness within the community of the benefits of riparian habitat rehabilitation, river health, and build appreciation and stewardship of the Macquarie Wambuul River.
What is the environmental problem?
The Macquarie Wambuul River has been largely impacted by the loss of important vegetation and infestation of highly invasive weeds within its riparian zone. The riparian zone describes the area of vegetation including trees, shrubs and grasses that grow along the banks of a waterbody. Native riparian vegetation provides habitat and food for fish and other aquatic fauna by dropping fruit, leaves and branches into the water.
Overhanging trees and vegetation also shade the river which keeps water temperatures down. Deep-rooted vegetation helps to hold soil in place, reduces erosion, filters out pollutants and keeps excess sediments from entering the waterway. When the riparian zone is cleared of vegetation the banks are more vulnerable to erosion. The sediment from erosion then washes into the water and smothers aquatic plants and fauna and fills in refuge holes and other habitat.
Weeds in the riparian zone are often highly invasive and outcompete native plants. For instance, when willows dominate the river, they provide heavy shade which inhibits the growth of understory plants. Willows also drop all their leaves in Autumn which reduces water quality and does not provide a year-round food source for aquatic fauna.
What will the project aim to achieve?
The project will reduce the impacts of introduced weed species through a control program. This will be achieved by targeting exotic woody and herbaceous weeds such as willows, poplars and blackberry that are currently competing with native species.
Controlled weeds will then be replaced with a range of local riparian trees, shrubs and grasses. Planting naturally occur species from the Bathurst region is best as they are well adapted to the local soils, conditions and are more likely to benefit the local fauna. Fast growing species will also be planted as they provide quick coverage of the planting area to outcompete weeds and protect the riverbank. These works will significantly increase the extent of habitat along the Macquarie Wambuul River for a wide range of native fauna species, improve river health and reduce erosion.
How can we get involved?
Join Council's Community Environmental Engagement Officer at any one of Council's community tree planting days and revegetation maintenance days. Give as much or as little time as you can spare - it all makes a difference in helping to rehabilitate the Macquarie Wambuul River. Visit Council's Conservation Volunteering & Tree Planting page for further details.
Are you after more information?
If you are looking to revegetate your own section of the river, a 'how to' guide has been developed for the Macquarie Wambul River in Bathurst. A copy of the guide can be found here. The 'Rehabilitation of the Macquarie River Riparian Corridor' Factsheet can be found here.
Volunteers at the fish habitat community tree planting day © Ken Smith Volunteers at a schools tree planting day © BRC
The Rehabilitation of the Macquarie River Riparian Corridor Project is proudly supported by the NSW Government's Environment Trust and Bathurst Regional Council.