Through the ‘Rivers of Carbon’ program, Greening Australia works in partnership with the Australian River Restoration Centre, landholders and other organisations across regional New South Wales to protect and restore rivers to boost biodiversity, sequester carbon and empower communities to respond to climate change.
Historical land management practices have modified many waterways to be straighter and neater, to quickly move water away. These efforts have drastically reduced the ability of our waterways to capture carbon, and also impacted water quality, soil stability, aquatic ecosystems and recreational values. The Rivers of Carbon program aims to restore the complexity of our river systems, to retain water, nutrients and carbon, and benefit people and nature.
Past policies and beliefs about good management practices saw landholders encouraged to clear paddocks, pick up wood and natural ‘litter’, straighten streams, and get water flowing as quickly as possible. However, these activities reduce the complex habitat our native wildlife needs to thrive, as well as impacting on our ability to spend time along our rivers fishing, swimming and connecting with nature.
Recent research has also shown that in our efforts to ‘neaten’ our rivers, we have drastically reduced the ability of our waterways to capture carbon.
“Natural river systems are complex, ‘messy’ and retain water, nutrients and carbon. Modified river systems are simple, ‘neat’ and designed to keep water moving. These systems are carbon poor. It is estimated that modified river systems store less than 2% of the carbon they used to,” says Professor Ellen Wohl.
The mantra for the Rivers of Carbon program is ‘mess it up and slow it down’. When it comes to rivers, messy is better for wildlife, river health, carbon sequestration, biodiversity and recreation.
‘Mess’ includes in-stream vegetation such as reeds and water plants, fallen trees and logs, rocks and a diversity of flow regimes includes riffles and pools. These structures provide somewhere for fish to shelter, hunt and spawn, help to oxygenate the water and hold water in the landscape to buffer waterways from drought and provide opportunities for recreation.
Greening Australia and the Australian River Restoration Centre are working in partnership with landholders and organisations across regional New South Wales to give rivers ‘room to move’, restoring a range of flows and movement to bring back a range of ecosystem functions, and provide habitat and food for a wide range of animals.
At the same time, these restoration measures are sequestering carbon and empowering communities to respond to climate change.
The Rivers of Carbon partnership has facilitated the roll-out of six major projects in Goulburn, Burra and the Breadalbane region of New South Wales, and on the Lachlan, Yass and Murrumbidgee rivers.
We are working with Water NSW to protect and restore Sydney’s water catchments. To date, 78 kilometres of riverbanks have been protected and restored, with a further 40 kilometres of restoration works planned.
Interested in what Rivers of Carbon could do for your property? Get in touch by submitting an expression of interest via our landholder registration page. Once you have registered, our team will contact you for a discussion about what you want to achieve on your property and whether we can assist.
For more information about this project, please feel free to send us an online query.
Ian’s love for the outdoors drove him to study an honours degree at the Australian National University working on Greening Australia’s direct seeding projects around the NSW Southern Tablelands. On graduating he went straight into a full-time position with Greening Australia and today works as a Program Specialist for our Great Southern Landscapes program.