Constructed Wetlands Suitability for Sugarcane Profitability, Freshwater Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Canning, Adam D., Smart, James C.R., Dyke, Joshua, Curwen, Graeme, Hasan, Syezlin, and Waltham, Nathan J. (2023) Constructed Wetlands Suitability for Sugarcane Profitability, Freshwater Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Environmental Management, 71. pp. 304-320.

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Freshwater ecosystems, such as wetlands, are among the most impacted by agricultural expansion and intensification through extensive drainage and pollution. There is a pressing need to identify ways of managing agricultural landscapes to ensure food and water security without jeopardising biodiversity and other environmental benefits. Here we examine the potential fish biodiversity and landholder financial benefits arising from the integration of constructed lagoons to improve drainage, flow regulation and habitat connectivity within a sugarcane dominated catchment in north Queensland, Australia. A hybrid approach was used, combining the findings of both fish ecological surveys and a financial cost-benefit analysis. We found that the constructed lagoons supported at least 36 native freshwater fishes (over half of all native freshwater fishes in the region), owing to their depth, vegetated margins, moderate water quality and high connectivity to the Tully River. In addition to biodiversity benefits, we estimated that surrounding sugarcane farms would have financially benefited from reduced flooding of cropland and the elevation of low-lying cropland with deposited spoil excavated from lagoon construction. Improved drainage and flow regulation allowed for improvement in sugarcane yield and elevated land increased gross margins from extending the length of the cane production cycle or enabling a switch from cattle grazing to cane production. Restoring or creating wetlands to reduce flooding in flood-prone catchments is a globally applicable model that could improve both agricultural productivity and aquatic biodiversity, while potentially increasing farm income by attracting payments for provision of ecosystem services.

Item ID: 77086
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1009
Keywords: Restoration, Flood reduction, Flow regulation, Fish habitat, Crop production
Copyright Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2022 04:31
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 30%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 40%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180203 Coastal or estuarine biodiversity @ 50%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180507 Rehabilitation or conservation of marine environments @ 50%
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