The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Rehabilitation of an incised ephemeral stream in central New South Wales, Australia: identification of incision causes, rehabilitation techniques and channel response

N. A. Streeton A C , R. S. B. Greene A , K. Marchiori A , D. J. Tongway A and M. D. Carnegie B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Building 48, Linnaeus Way, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

B Lake Cowal Foundation, PO Box 138, West Wyalong, NSW 2671, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: nick.streeton@jbaconsulting.com

The Rangeland Journal 35(1) 71-83 https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ12046
Submitted: 12 July 2012  Accepted: 17 January 2013   Published: 13 February 2013

Abstract

The degradation of semiarid agricultural rangelands in Australia can be traced back to the 19th century when Europeans expanded into these areas. That environmental degradation remains today and continues to harm agricultural productivity. The rehabilitation of a strongly incised ephemeral stream, ‘Spring Creek’, in central New South Wales, as an example of what can be achieved readily by landowners, is described. The causes of environmental degradation and the main environmental factors leading to the stream erosion were identified, rehabilitation began and the behaviour of the regime for 5 years within Spring Creek and the adjacent floodplain was monitored. It was found that intrinsically unstable sub-soils and sparse ground cover due to persistent grazing by domestic livestock were the major factors leading to incision. Several physical and chemical properties were found to be the primary causes of the soil’s instability.

Rehabilitation focussed on stabilising the soils alongside the stream, promoting sedimentation and re-vegetation of the stream bed, with a longer-term objective of increasing the transfer of water, sediments and nutrients between the stream and its adjacent floodplain. The measures, implemented by local landowners, included the provision of in-stream porous rock weirs and the lowering of the grazing pressure on the stream bed and adjacent floodplain. Monitoring in 2007, 2009 and 2011 indicated that sedimentation was substantially faster above weirs than where there were no weirs. The rehabilitative measures resulted in the retention of fine sediment (<0.2 mm) along the stream bed behind weirs.

Additional keywords: controlled grazing, in-stream weirs, semiarid.


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