How do we begin to manage the devastating impact of Cat's Claw Creeper and restore the health of our riparian zones? This is the final episode in the Save Our Catchment virtual excursion. In this episode, you will apply the knowledge and data gained from your excursion to suggest an appropriate management plan for saving our catchments. (3:57)

Save Our Catchment – Episode 12

WARNING – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following video may contain images and voices of deceased persons.

[Screen reads – Focus question: Where to next? How can we better manage the Upper Clarence River Catchment?]


Through this Virtual Excursion, we have learned about the varied nature of riparian zones, and the threat that the Cat's Claw Creeper poses to their healthy future. The complexity of the issue in the Clarence River catchment must be balanced with the needs and motivation of various stakeholders, along with the difficulty and expense of long-term eradication processes. To create a clear strategy to address the issue, it is best to hear from those managing the weed locally. Here we heard from Marty and Steve, local Bundjalung Landcare officers. When we're looking at a catchment management issue, we really are looking at the whole catchment as a system. So farmers operating in these areas, how do you work with farmers on managing this problem?


Well, most of them, we got to work on their property.


Is there any rules to make the farmers do that work?


No, there's no rules.


No rules, yeah.


It's that weed, I said this clearly.


I guess because if it's upstream, that problem then spreads continually downstream. And unless the farmers are working in sections, and some are doing the management and some are not, then that increases the problem. Do you know far down it goes, down the river system?


Straight up to Grafton.


Total catchment management is defined in the New South Wales Catchment Management Act of 1989 as 'The coordinated and sustainable use and management of land, water, vegetation, and other natural resources, on a water catchment basis, to balance resource use and conservation.'

The act provides the structure for integrated natural resource and environmental management in New South Wales. In practise, total catchment management has three elements.

The philosophy, based on stewardship. In essence, holding natural resources in trust, having a duty of care, and leaving them in first-class order for the next generation.

The process, a means of achieving ecologically sustainable development through effective and efficient government-community partnerships. In this system, the surface water catchment is a basic, but not exclusive, unit of management.

Thirdly, the administrative structure. As set out in the New South Wales Catchment Management Act, it recognises the value of community input, such as localised Catchment Management Committees, Landcare, Bushcare and Dunecare groups, which play a key role in working towards effective and sustainable catchment management outcomes.

The Cat's Claw Creeper is so prolific now in the Clarence River catchment, there will be a need for drastic efforts to restore the natural habitat. Landcare representative Terry Moody suggests that specific sites need to be selected for management now.

Terry Moody [CEO and weed expert, Upper Clarence combined landcare] – In some other areas, you might just have to let it go, with the limited resources that we have. So it's a combination for us of looking at a catchment, trying to work from the top all the way down, because those seeds blow up and down, but the tubers get washed primarily down. And then picking individual sites themselves for their own special values.


Roy Bell outlined the culturally significant scar trees and native turtles that have been lost, and must be made a priority. The problem is vast. The attention that it has received as an environmental issue has been minimal, so where to next? How can we best manage the Upper Clarence River Catchment to control the spread and impact of the Cat's Claw Creeper? How can we save our catchment?

[List of sources and acknowledgements:

  1. Video – Drone footage of The Everlasting Swamp. We would like to thank The Everlasting Swamp National Park and Jessica Robertson Photography and Design for contributing their beautiful drone footage
  2. Image and video – Canoeing on the Upper Clarence River. Provided by Steven Ross and Clarence River wilderness lodge
  3. Narration – Voice over by Melissa Ellis, Southern Cross School of Distance Education
  4. Acknowledgment – We wish to thank Father Pop Harry Walker, Annabelle Walker, Roy Bell, Jubullum Local Aboriginal Land Council, Steve Walker, Marty Walker, David Foley, Upper Clarence River Landcare, Terry Moody, Steven Ross, Frederick Ellis]

[End of transcript]

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