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The Alligator Creek Project

Project Details:
ALLIGATOR CREEK REVITALISATION PROJECT

S0P: To restore Alligator Creek to a level of health where the “gators” return.

Starting point:

A badly eroding wetland drainage system in Stock-Route Valley. The current situation is being compounded by frequent wild-fire and feral stock and donkeys. Soil, peat and most of the middle and upper story vegetation are gone. The flow of water ceases each year and most of the drainage-line is dry for much of the year. In high-rainfall years Alligator Spring oozes out some water all year. The water-hole where Lone Pine Creek joins Alligator Creek has not yet run dry.

Objective:

Kachana Pastoral Company wishes to revitalise Alligator Creek to a level where the fresh-water crocodiles will come back: This implies implementing management that will recreate the required conditions. We will work towards a situation that will sustain limited pastoral activities while we enhance the biodiversity and richness of the area.

This area is managed in line with our Goal.

What we need to do:

To recreate healthy riparian environments along the drainage line of Alligator Creek. Energy flow needs to be increased; Water catchment and retention needs to be improved to enhance reliable creek-flow and water-cycling through vegetation; mineral cycling needs to be initiated and enhanced; we require a diversity of vegetation types and age-groups to provide habitat for birds and other terrestrial and aquatic life-forms.

What do we wish to leave in our wake?

A diversity of habitat for birds, small native species and aquatic life including crocodiles. A perennially reliable flow of water and stable embankments around waterholes. Eco-system processes functioning at high levels with minimal requirements for human management input.

Additional Benefits:

Much of this project is being scientifically monitored and analysed. It can serve as a source of management information for many upper catchment areas in the region. It can also be used as an educational tool for school-children, students and future land-managers.

To achieve the planned results we will make use of management guidelines developed by the international Holistic Management Movement. In the first instance we will primarily need to change the current patterns of human lit fire (wild-fire, arson, aerial burning and ground lit fires) and the behaviour of humans, dingos, feral donkeys and cattle. With a planned manipulation of energy flow we will on an annual basis increase both solar-energy intake and water retention: the basis to begin acting on over-all eco-system function.

For practical management reasons we have identified key areas and have prioritised a number of project steps. (The sequence does not necessarily reflect ecological or short-term financial considerations, but a practical means to achieve a long-term desirable ‘triple bottom line’ outcome).

Project Sites:
THE UPPER CATCHMENT AREA:

At this stage all we can afford to do in the upper catchment area is to mitigate the effects of wild-fire. Kimberley Specialists are assisting in this by breaking up the fuel-loads through patch-burning. They have also begun to mark a fire buffer zone where fuel levels will be kept to a minimum.

ALLIGATOR SPRING AREA:

This area will be managed as a water reserve. This primarily means the exclusion of fire and the control of stock.

AREA DOWNSTREEM OF THE SPRING TO WHERE BAUHINIA CREEK JOINS ALLIGATOR CREEK:

This area, will be managed to provide a mosaic of diverse vegetation types and varying levels of succession.

Kachana Pastoral Company has been committed to this project since 2002 and subject to the availability of water and feed, a “working herd” is made available May and November each year for work required.

BAUHINIA CREEK:

This area will be managed as a separate entity to provide demonstrations of how different outcomes can be achieved by differing use of fire and livestock.

AREA FROM WHERE BAUHINIA CREEK JOINS ALLIGATOR CREEK TO WHERE LONE PINE CREEK JOINS ALLIGATOR CREEK:

This area is managed in line with our current approach where the priorities are: Resource stabilisation; Ground cover; vigorous plant-growth and eco-system enhancement in general.

On the ground management will be planned according to funds/labour available and seasonal demands.

ALLIGATOR CREEK WETLAND RESERVE:

This area, where The Lone Pine and Bingham Creeks join Alligator Creek, would need to be surveyed, fenced in and given most of a wet season to rest without large animal impact. A late wet ‘medium animal impact treatment’ (150 to 400 head / ha for 12 to 24 hrs) would be required and after that the area would require very low managerial input except for surveillance of the perimeter fencing and the creation and maintenance of internal and external wild-fire buffer strips (20 to 30 m wide) along the fence line.

This project will be commenced once funds and management plan are in place.