The Regional NRM Plan (2015-2025) is a framework to guide coordinated and holistic planning and on-ground action to improve the management and condition of the natural resources in the NRM Plan area. The NRM Plan identifies and prioritises objectives, together with innovative management actions to help us reach them. Management actions focus on motivating changes in land use and in production and environmental management practices, protecting and conserving regional and catchment environmental values and, as appropriate, undertaking activities to arrest degradation and rehabilitate degraded areas.
The NRM Plan is responsive to community and regional needs for a practical and strategic approach for natural resource management.
About the region
The Maranoa-Balonne and Border Rivers catchments encompass a total of just over 10 million hectares of predominately agricultural land use and makes up a large portion of the region known as the Queensland Murray Darling Basin. With a population of approximately 44,000, the area is serviced by a number of major towns and centres, and contributes substantially to the Queensland economy through its major industries of agriculture and mining.
Border Rivers / Maranoa-Balonne map
Land Use and Land Management
The diverse region which makes up the Plan area incorporates many different land uses and incorporates densely populated and developed areas, through to more isolated areas where natural environments are the key feature of the landscape.
The predominant land use in the region is pasture production from relatively natural environments. These areas comprise approximately 83% of the land area. Pasture areas support primarily beef cattle production, with secondary grazing uses of meat sheep, sheep for wool production and goats.
Production from dry-land agriculture is principally derived from winter and summer cereal crops such as wheat, oats and sorghum. This area of cropping comprises about 12% of the total land area. Irrigated cropping continues to only occur on the flood plains of the Balonne and Border rivers. The footprint of irrigated production on the total land mass is small, comprising around 2%. The main irrigated crop grown is cotton, with smaller areas supporting irrigated cereal production. The remainder of the region supports conservation and natural environments, principally forests, however, it should be noted that only 2% of the area is dedicated solely to conservation and natural environment preservation. A representation of this land use configuration is presented below.
Primary Land use extent (hectares) and proportions (%) (Blackley 2013)
Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources
The oil, gas and minerals resources sector has developed significantly since 2004 and is now an established industry within the region. The footprint of this sector on the land is low in terms of physical area disturbed, but substantial in terms of extent of coverage and social disturbance. They are also major landholders and land managers within the region.
Construction of the nearly 50,000 wells initially proposed for the region is now almost complete. Infrastructure associated with these wells, including access roads, areas alienated from rural uses immediately surrounding the wells used as buffers and distribution pipelines, are also a key feature of the current regional landscape. Detailed mapping of bores, permits and the overall mining footprint is available online on the Queensland Government’s MinesOnlineMap resource (Queensland Government, 2015).
There is extensive information available online with regard to the extractive industries. This NRM Plan will, as part of considering changing land use, take into account new projects and future project finalisation and associated stakeholders throughout the life of the Plan.
The rural and resources sectors of the region are well-serviced by transport infrastructure however its level of maintenance, and ability to meet market demand, varies. Transport of product occurs via a network of road and rail systems, liquid gas is transported to Gladstone by pipeline for export, storage and marketing facilities for cereal crops are well established and the Roma cattle saleyards provide a critical exchange and marketing location. Value-adding and processing facilities are less established. A number of regional councils are encouraging the development of land for the provision of such facilities in close proximity to the source of the product. These opportunities are being increasingly recognised by overseas interests and investment from offshore companies in production, transport and processing infrastructure is becoming increasingly commonplace.
How was the Plan developed?
This iteration of the Region NRM Plan is based on the original 1998 Plan and successive Plans, which were developed through consultation with Landcare and catchment management groups, industry, local government, Australian and State government agencies and interested individuals.
The NRM Plan builds on the extensive community values and knowledge contained in the long-standing planning documents already developed across the regions as well as new research and tools available in the 21st Century to address the impacts of climate change, adaption and mitigation. Its development has involved regional technical expert panels reviewing and updating the Plan sections, achievements against the existing Plan and integrating climate risk and vulnerability assessments in determining future objectives and targets. These panels included participants with backgrounds including biodiversity, weeds, pest animals, climate change, land, soil conservation, energy, water, water use efficiency, waste, governance, community participation, ecology, botany, fire management and education, from the government, private sector and general community. In all, about 120 people were provided with the chance to provide technical input.
In September 2014, the document was placed online at www.ourfutureplan.org, for public consideration and comment. Over the next twelve months, detailed feedback was gained from broad spectrum of the community and this information was integrated to develop the Plan in its current form.
There are a number of principles underpinning the development of the NRM Plan. These principles are expressed in many ways throughout the NRM Plan.
|Principle||Description of use in the planning|
|Adaptive management||A systematic process for continually improving management policies and practices by learning from the outcomes of previously employed policies and practices. In active adaptive management, management is treated as a deliberate experiment for the purpose of learning.|
|Address causes not symptoms||Fundamental to the planning process is addressing causes, not symptoms and developing targets and actions focusing on investigating causes of natural resource degradation and addressing those causes (where known and possible) as a priority.|
|Alignment of planning processes||Target setting development and methodology, technical working groups, collation of existing relevant planning processes.|
|Climate adaptation||Adaptation strategies and actions are those designed to adjust to and limit the potential impacts relating to hazard and risks arising from extreme weather events, climatic variability and climate change. Adaptation is generally considered an evolving, long-term dynamic process in which the building of the adaptive capacity of stakeholders is crucial.|
|Consistent with local, Queensland and Australian government planning policies||Referenced in condition and trend papers and reflected in targets and actions.|
|Conservation of natural assets||A fundamental underpinning of the whole NRM Plan is the conservation of natural assets and resources; in particular those that are in short supply, endangered or threatened.|
|Sustainable use of natural resources||Another fundamental approach in the NRM Plan is the recognition of the need for balance between economically viable production and sustainable use of natural resources|
|Ecologically Sustainable Development||The Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Act 1997 (subsection 21 3(a) (ComLaw 1997) states that the principles of ESD consist of the following core objectives:
|Precautionary Principle||The Precautionary Principle states “that the lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing a measure to prevent degradation of the environment if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage” (COAG 1992). The precautionary approach has been taken where details are scarce as to the existing condition and/or appropriate solution.|
|Community-based process||The planning process has allowed the community to express its directions for NRM on the basis of local knowledge as well as scientific and technical rigour.|
|Effective engagement of stakeholders||Engagement of stakeholders has been extensive with opportunities for all people in the planning area to have input. This has taken place in a number of forums and by a number of different means to allow maximum input.|
|Continuous development and improvement||The planning process will be iterative with a large monitoring/evaluation element feeding back into the ongoing planning, ensuring this Plan is a living document.|
|Capacity building to ensure quality of ongoing process||The capacity of the community, Regional Bodies and other stakeholders is recognised as vital to the ongoing development and implementation of the NRM Plan. Capacity building is addressed as a key regional issue and includes actions to ensure this local capacity is developed and maintained.|
|Best available science||Planning for sustainable use of natural resources requires access to and understanding of many scientific and technical issues and approaches. The planning and implementation of the NRM Plan is based on the best available science at the time and this will continue to be the case through the iterative versions of the NRM Plan.|
|Objectivity and transparency||The NRM Plan has been developed in an objective and transparent manner with all people in the planning area having the opportunity to provide input into the process. Receiving, analysing and responding to that feedback has been done in a way that is open to scrutiny.|
|Resilience||Refers to the amount of disturbance or stress that an ecosystem (social or bio-physical) can absorb and still remain capable of returning to its pre-disturbance state.|