The Cleaning Up Crookwell – River Restoration Project

Following on from the successful Kiamma Creek Landcare willow removal program stage 1 and 2 which were completed in 2013 and funded through a Caring for Our Country grant, further funding has been successfully sought  to continue the willow removal along the Kiamma Creek in Crookwell through the NSW Environmental Trust program.

The Cleaning Up Crookwell – River Restoration Project has been funded by  NSW Environmental Trust with a budget of $100,000. The project is a collaborative approach by Local Lands Services, Upper Lachlan Landcare , Kiama Creek Landcare Group and the Upper Lachlan Shire Council as well as private landholders to address environmental issues caused by willows along the Kiama Creek and the Crookwell River.

The project aims to restore 9.68 km of the Kiama Creek by removal of willows and the planting of native tree species to create a biodiversity corridor. Contractors have been employed to remove the willows within site one with with works to commence in next month (February 10th). Upper Lachlan Shire Council has agreed, as their contribution towards the project to undertake the stem injecting component of the project at sites 2 & 3 with will commence in late March. (see Map)

kiamma creek

(download large map here) Crookwell_ET_Project area_2014

This highly visual restoration project is committed to community education through awareness campaigns, education and hands on teaching days. By teaching land managers how to control future willow establishments, the community will take ownership of this program by preventing future environmental damage and restoring native habitat.

Senior Land Services Officer, Jonathon Berryman, (formerly of the Lachlan CMA)  is the project manager for this stage of the willow removal program and can be contacted here: T: 02 6382 5833  M:0429 998 700  jonathan.berryman@lls.nsw.gov.au

Jonathon Berryman with the children from Crookwell Primary School a lesson in the how and why of willow removal
Jonathon Berryman with Crookwell Primary School explaining the why we need to remove the willows

Why are we removing the willows?

Willows are listed as one of twenty Weeds of National Significance (WoNS). This is due to their invasive nature and their impacts on the hydrology and bio-diversity of the river system.
• Willow leaves cause a flush of organic matter when they drop in autumn, reducing water quality, especially available oxygen, directly threatening aquatic plants and animals;
• Willows spread their roots into the bed of a watercourse, slowing the flow of water and reducing aeration. Where willows occur in dense stands this effect is exaggerated and can lead to bank erosion and in severe cases, flooding;
• Willows will drink much more water than native trees and shrubs. When rivers and wetlands are at very low levels, thirsty willows hasten the drying of pools which protect fish and bug life from drought conditions;
• Willows can redirect stream flows, create bank erosion and damage infrastructure such as pumps and weirs.
• Willows are easily treated with herbicide but difficult to control as broken stems and twigs easily take root. Some varieties of Willows can spread by seed, which can be carried up to 100 km by wind or water;

Willows vs Natives

Willows Natives
Deciduous: Dense shade in spring and summer supresses native understory and river fauna.Massive leaf drop in Autumn can lead to high nutrient pulses which local flora and fauna are not accustomed to and to reduced water quality. Non- Deciduous: Strongest growth period is during spring/summer.No Mass leaf drop – pattern more even which Australian Flora and Fauna are more accustomed to.
Dense Shallow Mat forming Roots:Results in changing the natural water courses into “braided streams” (wider and shallower) Roots also supress growth of natives and leave bare ground Roots Don’t Form Dense Mats:Native trees don’t alter the course of streams quickly.Native vegetation allows growth of understory and ground cover.
Bare Banks:Bare banks do not provide habitat for frogs, water rats, snakes, lizards etc. Groundcover on Banks:Provides habitat and protection for native fauna species.
Dense Canopy:Decreases light availability and stream temperatures causing decline in regeneration of native flora and decreased dissolved oxygen. Sparser Canopy:Allows light and higher stream temperatures in areas to allow native regeneration and adequate oxygen concentrations.
Lack of predators:Lack of natural insect predators results in fewer insects for birds and fish (food chain)Allows for faster growth of willows Sufficient Natural Predators:Creates a food chain as insects feed on native trees which in turn become food for native fauna.Native trees at growth disadvantage
Monoculture forming:Eventual dominance by willows leads to reduced  natural biodiversity (flora and fauna) reducing conservation value. Balanced Ecoystem:Native species form an ecosystem comprised of numerous canopy, mid storey and ground cover plant species = high conservation value
Reduced Access:Once dominated by willows access for use (livestock, recreation etc.) significantly reduced Access Remains:Native vegetation generally more accessible over a given area allowing use of river for other means.
Brief Flowering Season:Only produce nectar for introduced honey bees and only for a brief period. No records of flowers being used for nectar feeding birds Extended Flowering:Natives flower for longer period  and at different times throughout the year providing feed for native fauna for much longer.
Higher water use:Willows have a much higher water use than natives, needing more water to survive and transpiring more water into the atmosphere Lower Water Use:Natives use less water to survive from the stream and transpire less water

Further info on Willow management can be downloaded here: (Willow Management Guidelines)

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