Post-flood resilience in the Murray-Darling Basin

Ensuring resilience in the landscape of the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin has certainly been challenging in the wake of a series of devastating flood events in 2010 and 2011. The region is now aced with a massive rebuilding and recovery task in the wake of not one, but four flood events in the past few months.

Queensland Murray-Darling Committee is coordinating a whole of basin response to these damaging weather events, with a focus on supporting landholders to ensure they have sustainability businesses.

Queensland Murray-Darling Committee CEO Geoff Penton said it’s impossible to focus on resilient landscapes until you help landholders get back on their feet.

“We need landholders in the region to have sustainable businesses to they can, in turn, direct their attention to ensuring sustainable and resilient landscapes,” he said.

“That’s why we set up the Basin Flood Recovery Team,” Penton said.

The Flood Recovery Team was borne out of a need to rebuild strong, sustainable and vibrant rural communities and the environment. Volunteers from across Australia, America and even Europe have helped start the recovery process for landholders across the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin.

“The resilience of our landscapes and our people has been sorely tested since November which is why QMDC and Landcare groups joined with organisations such as BlazeAid, Conservation Volunteers Australia and Volunteering Queensland as well as regional businesses to give landholders some help as the start of the recovery process.”

To 10 March, more than 370 volunteers had taken part in the Basin Flood Recovery Team, helping out more than 100 landholders.

Penton said the recovery work complements the strategies in their Regional Natural Resource Management Plan.

“We’ve identified key strategies for landscape resilience already,” Penton said. “This Basin Recovery process is an obvious response to a distressed landscape.”

“Our Basin Recovery work will result in improved health of the region’s soil and water resources; improved health of the rivers, wetland and floodplains; the ongoing protection of native plants, animals and cultural heritage; and the reduced threat of weeds and pest animals which often flourish as a result of these extreme weather events.”

“Through our regional plan, our association with a variety of Landcare groups and the sub-catchment planning process, QMDC provides land managers with an ongoing opportunity for the widespread adoption of environmental best practice and the uptake of new innovations in sustainable farming practices,” Mr Penton said.

“All of this requires land managers who are confident in their businesses and their communities which is why our current flood recovery work is so important.

“Our volunteers are out there, on farms, getting their hands dirty.”

“So often the volunteers have been told by landholders that having them arrive gave them the motivation to pick a starting point for the repair process, to start them thinking about what needed to be done in terms of a series of achievable goals, not one unfixable disaster,” Penton said.

Mr Penton said that so far, about a third of the landholders contacted had indicated they would like help from the volunteer crews with calls to affected landholders continuing.

“This effort is truly more of a marathon than a sprint because as well as helping to repair the physical damage caused by the floods, we need to help rebuild community and landscape resilience and that’s not something that can happen in a few days or a few weeks or a few months.”