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Ecohealth report card released for Macleay waterways

A new report card on the Macleay Catchment has been released creating a detailed snap shot of the health of local waterways and key aquatic ecosystem indicators.

The Macleay Catchment includes sub-catchment areas within the Walcha, Armidale Dumaresq and Kempsey Local Government Areas.

The Ecohealth program was undertaken by the UNE Aquatic Ecology and Restoration Research Group and coordinated by Kempsey Shire Council, with financial and technical support from North Coast Local Land Services, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services and the Office of Environment and Heritage Estuary Program.

The Ecohealth report card measured key indicators of aquatic ecosystem health including water quality, riparian vegetation, geomorphology (channel shape), fish and macroinvertebrate (waterbugs) communities. The results were compared with national guidelines that determine how healthy our rivers and estuaries are for the plants and animals that live in them.

The Macleay Ecohealth Report Card is available online at www.kempsey.nsw.gov.au/environment/river-management/macleay-ecohealth-project.html

There was some positive news in the report with freshwater fish communities found to be in good condition across the catchment.

It found that waterways ranged from those in good condition with very high biodiversity to tablelands and estuary sites in poor condition. The catchment received an overall grade of a C minus. Sampling will be undertaken again in the next couple of years and comparisons can then be made to see if improvements have been achieved.

Northern Tablelands Local Land Services is working with NSW Fisheries, Landcare, landholders and local councils on riverbank and riparian improvement projects in the Upper Macleay catchment. Work includes coordinating neighbouring landholders in the most affected waterways at the top of the Macleay catchment to help them understand what they can do on farm to improve the poor condition of those rivers and streams.

“We invite the involvement of landholders and the broader community in efforts to regenerate natural vegetation and repair past environmental damage. Landholders can contact Local Land Services for advice on river management and guidance on ways to improve riparian zones,” said Andrew.

“Fencing, controlling weeds and planting native trees along your stretch of riverbank will significantly improve riparian health by creating a buffer from intensive activities.”

For more information about the Macleay Ecohealth Report contact Andrew Walsh at Northern Tablelands Local Land Services on 02 6720 8318.

Media contact:  Annabelle Monie 0429 626 326