Catchment management in a dry tropical river near the Great Barrier Reef

Bainbridge, Zoe, Dight, Ian, Yorkston, Hugh, Lewis, Stephen, and Brodie, Jon (2011) Catchment management in a dry tropical river near the Great Barrier Reef. In: Wilkinson, Clive, and Brodie, Jon, (eds.) Catchment Management and Coral Reef Convservation. Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network and Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, Townsville, QLD, Australia, pp. 96-97.

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Abstract

[Extract] The Burdekin River is one of the largest catchments (133 000 km2) within the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) catchment area. It is also the largest contributor of sediments to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. Land use within the catchment is dominated by two main agricultural industries: rangeland beef grazing across most of the catchment area (about 120 000 km2); and intensive, irrigated sugarcane cultivation in the lower coastal plain. The annual rate of sediment delivery is now 8 times higher than it was at the time of European settlement of the catchment in about 1850; the increased sedimentation is due to increased erosion associated with low vegetation cover from dry land grazing.

With the introduction of grazing on the catchment in about 1860, initially sheep, but after 1865 predominantly cattle, erosion increased greatly as did sediment loads from the river to the GBR lagoon. The first cattle raised were British breeds (Shorthorn and Hereford; Bos taurus) but in the 1960s these breeds were replaced with more drought and tick resistant breeds from India, particularly those developed from Brahmin and Zebu (Bos indica) breeds. These newer breeds were much more adapted to tropical conditions and could survive better through droughts increasing greatly the reduction in pasture cover and increasing erosion further (see Cover photo).

Item ID: 20751
Item Type: Book Chapter (Non-Commercial)
Keywords: Burdekin River, Great Barrier Reef, sediments,nutrient and pesticides
ISBN: 978-0-642-32222-7
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2012 03:44
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960604 Environmental Management Systems @ 100%
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