'Bringing back the Bruns' is a significant environmental program for our Shire, with Council initiating various projects to rehabilitate the health and habitat values of the Brunswick River.
Find out more about the Bringing back the Bruns projects.
Council has recently been successful in receiving a grant from NSW Fisheries to rehabilitate the 1.8km reach of the Brunswick River bank from the Mullumbimby Showground, downstream to the eastern end of Riverside Drive, Mullumbimby. The project area is both Council road reserve and community land.
Over the years, the riverbank has become weedy and eroded in places, which has reduced its habitat value for native wildlife, including fish. It is affected by weeds such as cats claw vine, umbrella tree, golden rain tree, coral tree, camphor laurel and bamboo as well as numerous other garden escapees. We are fulfilling our landholder Biosecurity obligation by rehabilitating this land we manage in an on-going staged process.
What works are planned?
From August to October 2020, a team of professional bush regeneration contractors will be working their way along the riverbank, controlling the weeds, to assist the regeneration of local native riparian vegetation. Bush regeneration will be carried out using best practice methods that comply with Australian Standards to minimise chemical use to protect the community and protect the health of the river.
Due to considerable costs involved, the control and removal of large camphor laurel trees and giant bamboo is not included this project.
In some areas where the banks are bare, local native riparian plants will be planted to enhance the riparian zone and stabilise erosion areas. Around 400 plants will be planted including lomandra, lilli pillis, and sandpaper fig.
Once the works are complete, our Bush Regeneration team will include the site in their scheduled works.
What is the benefit of the riverbank rehabilitation?
A healthy riverbank contributes greatly to the overall health of the river by providing shade, leaves, twigs and fruits to feed the aquatic animals and insects, as well as providing large woody debris (logs and branches) for fish habitat.
A healthy functioning riparian zone (vegetation along the riverbank) also contributes to good water quality by stabilising riverbanks and providing filtration for overbank runoff.
Most non-native plants compete with our native vegetation. They don’t usually supply the right nutrients for the river and weedy vines often pull down our trees reducing shade and don’t help the river. Also, the weed roots don’t grow down below the water level like our native plants do. This means they don’t stabilise the river bank and trees tend to fall in as the bank erodes underneath them.
How you can help
- While the works are undertaken, please keep safe by staying away from the contractors and the area they are working in (but of course you can say hello)
Using your green waste bins for disposal of all garden waste and clippings. If thrown onto the river bank, this waste spreads garden weeds and hinders bush regeneration efforts
Not poisoning camphors or other trees along the river bank. Dead standing trees can be a safety hazard.
In 2018 a $274,600 grant under the NSW DPI Flagship Fish Habitat Grants Program, was matched with Council funding to upgrade two causeways in the mid-reaches of the Brunswick River. A separate grant from the DPI Habitat Action program allowed for the removal of three other low-level fish barriers in the river.
This project opens up 7km of upstream habitat and allows 27.4km of fish passage to the estuary mouth. Local residents also benefit from safer vehicle access.
Opening the upper reaches of the Brunswick River will have long-term positive impacts on native fish populations including the iconic Australian Bass which lives in the upper freshwater reaches of the river and migrates to the lower Brunswick estuary for breeding.
Before the causeway upgrades, fish including bass and mullet, could only migrate to the upper reaches of the Brunswick River for around 10 days every year when high rainfall drowned out the crossings allowing fish to swim up and over them. The causeway upgrades mean native fish now have access to 90% of the river for 100% of the year.