Right as Rain: Part 2

Please feel free to ask questions or make any comments concerning the content of this program.
Peter is the only person ever to have 4 ABC Australian Stories and the previous 2 broke all records.

This tells us that Australians are interested in NSF and want to know more about it.

Our forum is your chance to do that. Some of those who know much about NSF may respond to your posts so please take part in this discussion.

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Shirley Henderson
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Post by Shirley Henderson » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:37 am

Hello again Rick, Thanks for your reply. I am interested in the work you do AND the principles of NSF. Peter’s ideas can cover the greater degraded, overused, desertified, salinified areas of Australia and more. I do believe he has a great understanding of the functioning Australian hydrological systems that worked pre: Humans and introduced animals. He has proven that working with those natural systems, natural restoration and rehydration can occur. Sure the weeds are in the process but that does not bother me. I agree with you that there are environments that are worth spending the money on to restore and keep natural and native. I agree with you on that. There is cost involved and that is all prioritisation, politics (as far as funding) and paid work.
The laws and regulations regarding waterways and wetlands are unacceptable. They say a gully has the potential to be a sub catchment but no rain, no catchment. Apply NSF and you have a waterway then the laws say you cannot touch it. I believe that we need every person, every farmer and every land holder on the job. It should not cost them a small fortune and the laws should protect only from pollution and destruction.
Where I live in the urban areas they fill in waterways and build houses on them. They build fill up flood plains and build houses on them too. I can not understand how they get away with that!
They take rare and endangered communities and say” its low quality” so it’s ok to wipe out what little is left. Never mind, why it is low quality. Maybe they should look at that!
I have 2 questions for you.
When removing Blackberry and Hawthorn, have you replaced plants with berries?
Do you restore the functioning flood plain?

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Post by swampy » Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:32 pm

Dear Duane, I am not sure that your comments originating from Prof Haikai Tane are entirely acceptable. What you forgot to mention is that in Europe and most of the Northern Hemisphere, you cannot go to any one location and find a mature forest system that is more than 200 years old. Contrast this with Australia where we have forest environments that are thousands of years old and the idea of just going with whatever plants come along we accept and use is denying the natural heritage of the Australian landscape.

I do see the arguments for using plants such as willows because of their dense tangled roots can survive vigourous water movement but then again, aren't we coming at the problem from the wrong end of the stick?

The problem of wash-outs of tributary systems is not the tributary systems themselves, but the ground that feeds those tributaries. It is greedy farmers who have progressively cleared the land of any vegetation that set up the stage for vigourous run-off from bare land that ends up collecting in gullies, causing erosion etc etc. A lot of effort has gone into trying to fix eroded gullies and often these are undone by the next heavy shower.

If the land that feeds them is kept bare of trees by allowing the dominant land use (grazing) to continue then the problem will never resolve itself. By returning swathes of land, particularly on high gradient land, back to a tree cover is the only way to stop the sudden run-of from land to trigger the process in the first place. By excluding grazing animals from the delicate slopes and re-planting, the process of rehabilitation can begin.

What we see in the field is the opposite. I live in the Adelaide Hills and there we have the spectre of magnificent century + gum trees isolated in a paddock of green grass. There are no young trees there to take their place, as the stock consistently eats them off. Eventually those mature trees will die and the derelict farmers will be left with bare paddocks. They will then complain about the lack of birds, weed infestation and excessive erosion but still they will go on exploiting the land to gain maximum return for minimal investment.

What is needed is a regular and moving system of closing off a portion of every paddock and allow it to revegetate. If the border can supply a generous amount of feed, by using fodder shrubs (eg Tagasaste) and these shrubs were irrigated then the loss in area to grass will be more than compensated by the increased output of the fodder fence.

It could mean that over time, a large proportion of the farm will be protected stands of bush with intervening swathes of grass. A "good" farm may end up with 50% of the paddocks returned to swathes of protected bushland. I would bet that at the same time, the overall productivity of the land would increase rather than decrease. It's a case of more is less.

Do this and you will prevent in the first place water from rushing off the bare soil and starting the erosive process. Only by exclusion of grazing animals will our lands start to recover.

Sure, playing around with the waterways is nice and there are some good results from work to see. However, only by tackling the real problem will we make a long term difference. The problem is unfettered access by grazing animals to the land and unless this is tackled, the big problem will never go away.
Peter Marsh

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Post by ColinJEly » Wed Jul 22, 2009 5:30 pm

As an ex-employee of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment in Victoria, I can't speak for other states, but here in Victoria, you would be hard pressed to find any area of forest that has not been logged at least once during the term of white settlement. I also have anecdotal evidence from an employee of Forestry Tasmania that the 'pristine untouched' forests in the World Heritage area down there have been logged before as well.

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Post by RiparianMan » Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:27 pm

Hi Shirley,
Quick answer to your specific questions:
1. No, I didn't think replacing with a berry producing plant was necessary because there are far more such plants (exotics) in the landscape than ever before.
2. The functioning floodplain - well absolutely! One of the biggest problems with channel erosion (deepening/incision or expansion/widening) is that it increases channel capacity & therefore, by definition, reduces floodplain inundation frequency. If you reduce flooding frequency then you deprive the floodplain of water, nutrients etc which can have severe impacts on floodplain wetlands e.g. our classic "billabong" wetlands.
Finally, I don't think there is "my view" & the NSF view - it's all riparian management - just different slants on how to go about it. As far as I'm concerned NSF is more of a media driven phenomena rather than a logical extension of river rehabilitation science & learning. We live in a society that is very strongly influenced by the media and sometimes the so-called "facts" - as trumpeted in the media - are just re-hashes or distortions of long understood principles.

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Post by RiparianMan » Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:35 pm

Shirley - just re-read your last & yes, the legislation side of all this is infuriating in the extreme. My experience has always been that govt. departments tend to be schizophrenic - the community focused "extension" officers (& I used to be one) work hard to cut through the "red tape" & get good stuff happening on the ground, meanwhile the permitting staff (usually from the same department, driving cars with the same logo etc.) seem to be uninformed, narrow-minded, obstructionist bureaucrats that work in the exact opposite direction of their extension colleagues!!! No wonder the community at large has such a low opinion of govt. NRM departments. It was precisely this sort of crap that led me to leave the govt agency that I worked for.

Shirley Henderson
Posts: 356
Joined: Sun May 06, 2007 4:03 pm
Location: Thirlmere

leaky weirs

Post by Shirley Henderson » Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:15 am

Hi Rick, I am finding your replies interesting and informative. In your earlier post you spoke of "Leaky weirs are just slightly dodgy bed control structures". Would you be able to explain how bed control structures work.

Shirley Henderson
Posts: 356
Joined: Sun May 06, 2007 4:03 pm
Location: Thirlmere

Post by Shirley Henderson » Sat Aug 01, 2009 8:23 am

Hello again Rick,
Thank you for your letter and your photo. That looked beautful for a swim. I am interested in how that type of weir will hold up in a flood? Or what happens when a flood or deluge of rain passes through the area.
Do you use plants to choke waterways? Also how are you dealing with salinity?

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Post by gwmbox » Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:53 pm

Can I ask if there is anywhere else that I can view Right As Rain Part2 as the ABC site does not have it available... to view online. I think because of music used in the video.

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Post by duane » Wed Oct 07, 2009 11:38 pm

Right As Rain’ Part 2 will be repeated on Saturday 12/12/09 at 12:30pm.

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