Healthy springs, creeks and waterholes are the lifeblood of any ecosystem. They support populations of native wetland grasses and shrubs, aquatic plants, insects, frogs and native fish, as well as supplying fresh water to all other species. Feral pigs destroy watering points by rooting up vegetation, trampling and wallowing. Cattle, horses and other herbivores also congregate around creeks and watercourses eroding stream banks and damaging native vegetation.
A feral pig at Naree Station, NSW. Photo Gerard O'Neill.
Silting and salting of waterways, caused by over-extraction of water and over-clearing of land, are resolved by adopting a long-term integrated strategy across their catchments. Restoring the health of these waterways can take years to achieve. We are tackling salt-affected waterways by working with neighbours and in regional partnerships to replant large areas of cleared land, control agricultural run-off and modify local land management techniques.
How the land responds
Fencing pigs and other introduced herbivores out of natural springs and waterways has profound effects on water quality and the health of wetland areas.
At Carnarvon Station Reserve in Queensland many of the springs have been fenced. Water in the springs is once again crystal clear and supporting a flourishing and expanding fringe of native grasses and water plants. Aquatic insects and frogs have returned and birds and small native animals are again drinking clear water.
Myall spring on Carnarvon Station Reserve, Queensland. Photo by Chris Darwin.
Ramps erected across the fences allow native animals access to the springs while excluding hard-hooved animals.
Once water tables start to fall on those properties affected by salinity, we will see an improvement in the quality of the water in the creeks and rivers. This will lead to an improvement in the health of the stream-side vegetation and the populations of animals that are dependent on these ecosystems.