The Namoi Demonstration Reach was established in 2007 under the multi-million dollar Namoi Aquatic Habitat Initiative, which recognised that native fish populations and river health had significantly declined in the Namoi catchment and there was a need to do something about it. Acknowledging that numerous factors had contributed to this deterioration, the program focussed on a range of aquatic rehabilitation activities and fish passage works across the catchment.
After initial community consultation along priority areas across the catchment, the demonstration reach was set up along a 150km stretch of the Namoi River between the towns of Gunnedah and Narrabri. This reach of the Namoi was considered ideal due to its high profile, active community groups and landholders, the presence of threatened native fish species, and the ability to implement a range of on-ground activities.
Since the inception of the project, a significant amount of on-ground activities has been completed along the reach, including:
- 300 snags reintroduced at priority sites.
- 5,700 aquatic plants revegetated at priority sites.
- Over 9,000 native trees and shrubs planted.
- 33.5km of woody weed management completed.
- 33.5km of riparian fencing completed.
- 20 off-stream watering points installed.
- 8 instream and gully erosion protection works.
The Namoi Demonstration Reach has achieved significant community ownership of the river. Strong partnerships have been forged with over 25 stakeholder groups, including federal, state and local government, community groups, local landholders, businesses and schools. Community engagement has involved workshops with recreational fishers, Aboriginal communities, and landholders, through to environmental education days and ever popular carp muster events. Monitoring of the reach focuses on long term condition based monitoring of fish populations, as well as intervention based monitoring associated with major fish passage activities, which are about to commence along the reach.
“Having the river fenced off makes life that much easier. We can control stock access and will have a more reliable water supply. We are also controlling the willows and planting native trees along the river, so it’s a win-win situation. Not only do we benefit but it’s good for the health of the river and the fish.”
– Tim Tapscott, ‘East Bresrow’ on the Namoi River near Boggabri, NSW
The change in community attitude towards the concept of the demonstration reach and the benefits to native fish has also been encouraging. Local community members and landholders that have lived on the river all of their life are now showing an interest in the innovative solutions to aquatic and riparian health issues, including re-snagging activities being undertaken along the reach.
Due to the nature of the works undertaken along the demonstration reach and the lifecycles and response of native fish, the true benefits of the project may not be seen for many years. However, the initial inspiration and commitment has been established, and landholders who have completed works remain very positive about their involvement and the future benefit for their properties and the health of the river. Local fishermen are also benefiting from the re-snagging works, with anecdotal evidence and observations indicating that large recreational species such as Murray cod and Golden perch are occupying the newly created habitats within the Namoi River.
Funding for the Namoi demonstration reach has been provided by Namoi Catchment Management Authority (now North West Local Land Services), Murray Darling Basin Authority and Department of Primary Industries. A considerable amount of inkind support has also been provided from local industry, councils, fishing clubs, community groups and individual landholders.