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How River Landholders can Help

We all live in the catchment.  Landholders have an important role in maintaining river health and supporting the recovery of the Bellinger River Snapping Turtle. The main actions identified in the Bellinger River Health Plan (2010) to improve river health are management of  stock access to the river and fencing off the riparian zone, preventing fertiliser runoff and drains on farms.


1. Restore River Banks

Improving the condition of the riparian vegetation and stabilising riverbanks is important for maintaining water quality and habitat for aquatic animals in the Bellinger and Kalang rivers. Without action to protect and restore these important areas, it is likely we will see a gradual decline in the health of our waterways through reduced water quality, the loss of riparian vegetation for birds and wildlife, and the smothering of macroinvertebrates, native fish and seagrass habitats with sediments washed into the river from eroding riverbanks.

Native vegetation plays a vital role in river bank restoration. Whilst erosion and deposition of sediment are natural river processes, the accelerated rates of erosion seen today are the result of removal of native vegetation over time through land clearing, over-grazing and other development pressures. This in turn leads to the loss of productive land and valuable habitat and impact on water quality and aquatic habitats downstream. The effect of accelerated erosion are especially significant during floods. Disturbance or destruction of river bank vegetation and weed invasion has also severely limited the ability of river banks to repair themselves through natural regeneration of vegetation between flood events.

In their current state, river banks need active assistance and management to maintain and improve their stability and resistance to erosion. Planting river banks with native species which are adapted to the pressures of this dynamic environment is a valuable way to ensure our river estuaries remain healthy.

The vegetation naturally occuring on estuarine river banks changes as the river water becomes less salty upstream. The Bellinger and Kalang estuaries have four vegetation zones characterised by particular groupings of plant species and their preferred location on the river bank. See the following for more info:


2. Best Practice Stock Management

Best practice for stock management should address the following aspects: Fencing, off-river, Stock watering points, Formed access points.  Stock management is vital for riparian health to reduce:

  • Damage to riparian vegetation from grazing and trampling, leaving banks exposed.
  • Compaction of soil by hard hooves, subsequent erosion and degradation of the river structure.
  • Pollution resulting from sediment washing into the water course from erosion sites.
  • Stirring of sediment and damage to aquatic habitats caused by cattle loitering in streams.
  • Pollution resulting from cattle defecation.
  • Weed growth, through high nutrient loads from dung and disturbed riparian vegetation.
  • Stock exposure to water borne parasites, disease and footrot.

Download Bellinger River System Landholder Booklet: Best Practice for a Healthy River or request a copy of the booklet from Bellingen Shire Council.


3. Best Practice Fox Management

Turtle nest predation by foxes is  a major threat to the Bellinger River Snapping Turtle. Wild dogs kill and maul stock and pets threaten populations of native animals, have a social impact on farming and rural families, and are a reservoir for disease spread.

To enquire about the times and locations of baiting courses, contact Mick Elliott of the Grafton Ag Dept on michael.elliott@lls.nsw.gov.au or 0408 352 174.


4. Best Practice OSMS Management

On-site Sewage Management Systems (OSMS) are the treatment systems that collect wastewater from the home for the treatment and discharge into composting or septic system located within the property of unsewered areas of the shire. By maintaining best practice OSMS management, river landholders can contribute significantly to keeping our rivers healthy. For more info see:


5. Report Turtle Sightings

Please report turtle sightings using Turtle SAT, and report nesting sights, and sick or dead turtles at the contacts below. 

To report nesting sites, contact (02) 6659 8200 or Bellinger.turtle@environment.nsw.gov.au. To report sick or dead turtles, phone 131 555


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