Project Assessment & Recommendations

What has been the result of the investment / Effort?

Monitoring Results

The results of the monitoring over the life of the project are provided below:

2011

Results from recent fish surveys have highlighted that Hollands Creek is benefiting from the work the local community has contributed to the Hollands Creek Demonstration Reach Project (HCDR).

These results are encouraging and follow the recent announcement of further funding to continue works to protect the endangered Macquarie perch and enhance stream health.  The Hollands Creek Project focuses on the protection of the critically endangered fish – the Macquarie perch.

A key element of the project is to assess changes in stream health and the fish communities which would benefit from improved stream conditions.  Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, a partner in the project, has undertaken surveys on an annual basis. This year’s results have shown an increase in the Macquarie Perch population in the last 12 months, together with the highest abundance of Macquarie Perch since surveys began in 2008. 

Other species seem to have also benefited with an increase in the River Blackfish population and  the Two-spined Blackfish population in last 12 months and Brown trout recorded a more than three-fold increase in abundance from 2011 to 2012.

In addition, no Eastern Gambusia (Mosquito Fish) were recorded in the HCDR in 2011 and 2012.  This is good news for the health of native species in the system. 

2012

Large-bodied native fish populations within Hollands Creek have significantly improved following the implementation of recent habitat rehabilitation works. This is extremely encouraging for the endangered Macquarie Perch population which was in critically low numbers five years ago. Following recent habitat restoration works, the Macquarie Perch population has significantly increased in abundance, extended their distribution within the creek and have successfully recruited juveniles over the past few months. This is an outstanding result for a species that has recently declined in abundance across much of its former range. Murray cod were also recorded in the annual survey, for the first time for this project. Both River Blackfish and Two-spined Blackfish have also shown major improvements in numbers and distribution in the creek. While these results are encouraging, further works, research and monitoring will improve the long-term outlook for our native fish species

2012 / 2013

Recent results include:

  • an increase in the Macquarie Perch population and geographic distribution;
  • altered instream habitat as a result of flooding;
  •  improved connectivity between four sites enabling Macquarie Perch to access habitat previously unavailable to them;
  • the presence of the Two-Spined Blackfish (Gadopsis bispinosus) in the reach, and survey results revealing even higher numbers of these fish, along with the highest abundances recorded for River Blackfish (Gadopsis marmoratus) since the project began;
  • the decline in numbers of some alien fish species, including Gambusia (Gambusia holbrooki) and Redfin (Perca fluviatilis);
  • the increase in Brown trout (Salmo trutta) abundance; and
  • the decline of small native fishes.

Project Assessment

Within the early phases of the project a number of key project aims were established.  The following Table details the key aims and an overall assessment of the projects performance on these aims.

Project Aim 

Assessment 

The fish community in Hollands Creek has benefited through the project – improved diversity, numbers and extent. 

Macquarie perch and River Blackfish have improved I abundance and distribution and exhibited recruitment. Two-spined Blackfish and Murray cod have been recorded for the first time.

There is high level of community ownership of the project:. 

A Community Reference Group was established and met regularly throughout the program. This group has had important input into the works program and development of priority action plans, and had ownership of communication elements of the project such as signage, market stalls and field days.

The project will enhance community awareness and support of the project and of native fish 

One landholder has put his property under a trust For nature covenant. Most landholders along the reach are committed to long term actions to support native fish, including erosion control, weed control and native revegetation. There is improved understanding of the role of instream woody debris, and the impacts of weeds such as willows, water extraction from refuge pools, and of introduced species. Peer to peer conversations are happening in support of riparian rehabilitation works which support native fish.

The project will enhance scientific knowledge of rivers and fish 

The robust monitoring and evaluation program has provided valuable information on the results of a range of interventions, and on recovery of threatened species, which have transferability to rivers around the Murray-Darling Basin.

There is increased community awareness and understanding of the project. 

Through peer to peer local conversations, community events, meetings, signage, and local media, substantially increased awareness is evident. More comprehensive awareness and community connection with the project could have been built with the support of a full time project officer; genuinely effective engagement demands substantial resourcing.

 

Challenges

 

Lessons Learned

 

 

Recommendations

  1. Consider the diverse needs driving the Hollands Creek’s community of interest when designing and communicating a community-owned approach to its management.  STRATEGIC
  2. Explore the possibility of an excursion to plantations of HVP Plantations, involving community members and agency staff.  OPERATIONAL
  3. Reinforce roles and responsibilities of government agencies, non-government organisations and individuals involved with catchment management through development of a brochure.  OPERATIONAL
  4. Reinforce responsibilities and rights of landowners (including incentives recipients and lessees) and other Hollands Creek users.  OPERATIONAL
  5. Develop a communication strategy for natural resource management in the Hollands Creek area. STRATEGIC
  6. Emphasise the importance of on-ground relationships between government agency individuals and community individuals, rather than between agency “organisations” and “the community”.  TACTICAL
  7. Reinforce the links of funding and works for the HCDR and other projects to the community-based planning that underpins it, highlighting the long-term vision and objectives.  TACTICAL
  8. Work with DEPI Fisheries to help communicate fish management issues, including stocking with trout and Macquarie perch and subsequent effects on fish populations.  OPERATIONAL
  9. Investigate if existing community-involvement processes in the Hollands Creek area can evolve and result in the community having greater influence on the Creek’s management, supported by agencies.  STRATEGIC
  10. Engage HVP Plantations in exploring options for involving the community in managing the Creek.  STRATEGIC
  11. Develop ways to communicate scientific perspectives on technical issues, perhaps inviting community discussion via the Tatong Tattler and a Goulburn Broken CMA blog.  TACTICAL
  12. Investigate and communicate what impact, if any, pine plantations in upper parts of the Hollands Creek Catchment are having on the Creek.  TACTICAL
  13. Continue monitoring the condition of Hollands Creek as a priority.  TACTICAL
  14. Consider promoting HCDR project achievements and ongoing management issues through the Tatong Tattler and a tour of works undertaken.  OPERATIONAL
  15. Consider involving schools in Benalla in future projects.  OPERATIONAL
  16. Consider how community groups in Tatong or beyond can contribute, for example, via working bees, field days, fishing-cum-picnic days.  OPERATIONAL
  17. Promote benefits of works for all fish species.  TACTICAL
  18. Consider involving landowners downstream of Tatong Bridge.  TACTICAL
  19. Consider the many forms of media when implementing communication strategies.  TACTICAL
  20. Highlight the local economic importance of Hollands Creek valley and the Creek itself when communicating, especially to funders.  TACTICAL

Development of Management Strategies (Works and Actions

On the basis of the social survey, background stream assessments and known requirements for Macquarie perch the following key actions formed the basis of the implementation program over the four years: 

 

Hollands Creek (project Outputs 2009 - 2013)

 

Hollands Creek Demonstration Reach Projects and associated programs (Flood, Employment etc)

Outputs

Units

Number

Alternative Water

no. points

3

Bank Stabilisation

stabilised (km)

0.77

Bank Stabilisation

structures (no)

9

Bank Stabilisation

protected (km)

2.56

Bed Stabilisation

stabilised (km)

0.68

Bed Stabilisation

structures (no)

2

Bed Stabilisation

protected (km)

2.05

Fencing (River)

(ha)

34.78

Fencing (River)

Fence length (km)

12.397

Fencing (River)

stream length (km)

13.961

Habitat - Output 1=no. debris replaced/relocated

 (no)

156

Habitat

habitat established (km)

13.72

Revegetation

(ha)

6.3

Revegetation

Stream length (km)

4.285

Revegetation

Number

4870

Riparian Management Agreement (RMA)-

area of CL protected (ha)

4.2

RMA

lenght of CL protected (km)

0.95

RMA

area of FH protected(ha)

1.3

Weeds (Aquatic)

Stream Length (km)

4.3

Weeds (Frontage)

Area (ha)

86.7

Weeds (Frontage)

Stream Length (km)

25.05