Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Restoring the floodplains of the DeGrey catchment

Last month, the DeGrey Sustainable Pastoralism Group held a planning workshop to trial rehabilitating flood plains at Yarrie Station, in the East Pilbara, using Natural Sequence Farming principles.

As a result of the workshop, a detailed action plan for restoring an old flood plain was developed by Annabelle Coppin from Yarrie Station. It is hoped, that rehabilitation of the flood plains will result in more feed for cattle, and restoration of the natural habitat.

Natural Sequence Farming (NSF), pioneered by Peter Andrews is a method of landscape regeneration. Mr Andrews believes that poor grazing practices and fire can disrupt natural functions within catchments. Traditional station management can reduce vegetation resulting in significantly increased stream velocities leading to erosion. Erosion gulleys can cut through natural banks causing flood plains to be drained. The NSF method slows the flow of run-off water in stream beds and returns it to floodplains by using a series of physical interventions in the landscape.

Following a visit to Yarrie Station from Mr Andrews, the DeGrey Sustainable Pastoralism Group decided to investigate setting up demonstrations of the NSF methods on their properties. This will be a demonstration catchment and trial under the Rangelands NRM ‘Sustainable Pastoralism project.

During the planning workshop the group identified a dysfunctional sub-catchment of the DeGrey River close to the Yarrie Station homestead. They considered how this catchment should operate when there were flooding events caused by large cyclones or intensive rainfall events typical of the Pilbara wet season.

At the top of the flood plain eroding creeks appeared to be diverting water into a major channel feeding into the main river. Whilst at the bottom of the flood plain the group discovered active eroding gullies were draining water back into the river and therefore dehydrating the flood plain.

The group agreed that intervention was needed. Three critical spots in active eroding gullies were identified as potential sites for leaky weirs or ridges which would stop water being diverted away from the old flood plain. To ensure effective placement and design of the leaky weirs or ridges, Mr Andrews will be invited to return to Yarrie for further consultation.

In the next few months Rangelands’ NRM Program Manager Sustainable Rangelands, Tim Wiley, will visit other stations in the DeGrey region helping them to analyse their sub-catchment and plan appropriate interventions. Mr Wiley explained that only by managing the whole of the DeGrey River region, as a functional landscape, will it be possible to protect the natural assets of this unique region.

In attendance at the Yarrie Station workshop was Annabelle Coppin from Yarrie Station, Thomas Fox from Ironclad Wilderness, Ben and Caitlin Mills from Warrawagine Station, Kevin Claydon from Limestone Station and Tim Wiley from Rangelands NRM.

For more information contact Tim Wiley.