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The United Nations is launching a Decade on Ecosystem Restoration on World Environment Day this Saturday, 5 June with the aim to prevent, halt and reverse ecosystem degradation on every continent and in every ocean.

Healthy ecosystems are essential to sustaining us with water, food, building materials and a host of other resources that nourishes people and our way of life. Learn about the eight main types of ecosystems and how you can help to restore them here.

Our Murarrie Primary Processing team in Queensland has been doing its own ecosystem restoration over the past 18 months, which involved rejuvenating five disused water treatment ponds on its site.

Figure 1: Aerial photo of the site before restoration – August 2019

What was the ‘before’ status like?

These ponds were disused and disconnected from the site’s previous life more than 20 years ago as a piggery operation. During a severe drought experienced in the last decade, the ponds were exposed to extreme conditions with stagnant and mosquito-infected water and covered in invasive weeds. Due to the rare large rainfall events that followed the drought, these ponds silted up with dead plant materials and loose dirt eroded from the surrounding slopes. Survey cameras placed around the ponds six months prior to the restoration projects also captured a high level of rodent activity and only a small number of natural wildlife in the grassy dry pond areas.

 

 

What did the restoration project involve and what outcomes have been observed so far?

Figure 2: Aerial photo of the site after restoration – March 2021

In January 2020, the Murarrie pond area biodiversity restoration project commenced with the goal of redirecting the flush water from the site’s own Advanced Water Treatment Plant (AWTP) to the ponds. The engineered overflow and fill pipe system allowed water wildlife to move through the pipe system and between the ponds. With the support of the Brisbane City Council, the final overflow water is allowed to flow through the current stormwater release point off-site to the fresh water swamplands on the adjacent property owned by the Council. The fresh water swamplands had also suffered from 10-year drought conditions and now benefits from the constant water overflow coming from Ingham’s rejuvenated ponds.

During the pond base and the wall restoration, special care was taken to relocate any existing wildlife to an adjacent pond, such as turtles, eels and hatchling water birds. The ponds’ overall capacity was increased by 50 per cent to 50 million litres of water (equivalent to 20 Olympic size swimming pools!) and the pond depths also increased, which reduces the potential of algal bloom formation during the warmer months of the year.

One of the rejuvenated ponds at Ingham’s Primary Processing in Murarrie, Queensland.

The site is now a commercial partner in the local Land for Wildlife program. Through working together with the Council Rangers, members from the Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (B4C) and Global Environment Modelling and Monitoring Systems (GEMMS) Australia Pty Ltd, we developed a rejuvenation program of the ponds and the surrounding areas to improve the wildlife habitats. Some of our improvements to the ecosystem include installing wood piles for small lizards and birds, floating wetlands for birds, small islands for bird roosting and tree planting to join two tree lines to support treetop mammals such as the gliders.

 

Land for Wildlife has reported a ‘remarkable transformation’ of the area in their recent bird survey, with lush vegetation and creation of wetland conditions that provide an ideal habitat and breeding grounds for a number of bird species. In particular, the density of Tawny Grassbirds was the most the surveyors had ever seen in one area. The 90-minute bird survey identified a total of 45 different species with 312 individuals. Click here to view the sighting information from the survey.

We are proud to be doing our part in ecosystem restoration and helping to keep our planet healthy.

#WorldEnvironmentDay #GenerationRestoration #Planet