WHAT WE DO
Healthy Land and Water is an independent organisation dedicated to improving and protecting South East Queensland’s environment.
Our diverse team of scientists and engineers are experts in research, monitoring, analysis, engagement and project management. Working alongside Traditional Owners, government, private industry, utilities and the community, we deliver innovative and science-based solutions to challenges affecting our landscapes, waterways and biodiversity.
We believe that maintaining healthy landscapes and waterways not only protects our unique wildlife and precious ecosystems, but also supports a vibrant economy, great lifestyles and the health and well-being of the community.
Around two decades ago, SEQ Catchments and Healthy Waterways were each created off the back of the critical need to address urgent catchment and waterway health issues in South East Queensland. Since these bodies joined together to form Healthy Land and Water in 2016, our shared journey has been to build on the legacy created since that time and deliver our vision of healthier landscapes and waterways across the region. When we started this journey, our team vowed to live by five core values: integrity, care, innovation, collaboration and courage. These values are woven through the fabric of the organisation and they inform everything we do each and every day.
In the 2018 financial year, I am proud to say that Healthy Land and Water delivered a body of work that defined and wonderfully showcased our values. As you explore our new-look annual report, you will glimpse the evidence of this fine work. Only a handful of projects are featured here, but we initiated, crafted, managed, collaborated and delivered on dozens of projects and programs that helped - in both big and small ways - to improve and protect South East Queensland’s environment. From creating frog habitats, tackling weeds, restoring parks, building resilience in our waterways, working with Traditional Owners to protect their land, or promoting sustainable agriculture techniques, we’ve moved closer to realising our vision.
None of our fine work would be a reality without the invaluable support of our partners and sponsors in government, in industry and in the community. Along every step of the journey, our partners provided financial support, knowledge and insight as we tackled South East Queensland’s numerous environmental issues. It is heartwarming to know there are so many people in all walks life that care so deeply for the environment. We value your support and look forward to continuing our partnership in 2019 and the years ahead.
Although we have much to be proud of in 2018 we must look forward. There is much left to be done and our focus is now squarely on the future. Healthy Land and Water, with a history spanning 20 years, has stood the test of time despite many challenges along the way. Our longevity is a testament to our firm belief in our vision. But to ensure our vision to safeguard the future is realised, we must grow our business to be bigger, stronger, and more resilient. Not for the benefit of shareholders, but for the benefit of the environment and our team.
Over the past 12 months, Healthy Land and Water has spent considerable time and effort evaluating our organisation, realigning our strategic plan and solidifying a path forward. We are only two years into our journey and have learnt so much along the way. The triumphs, the challenges and the learnings during that time have informed our plan for the future. It’s a plan that ensures Healthy Land and Water will deliver on its vision for a cleaner, greener and more sustainable South East Queensland through our mission – to enhance and preserve our natural assets by leading and connecting through science and action.
- Julie McLellan, Healthy Land and Water Chief Executive Officer
As Chair of Healthy Land and Water I am very pleased to present the 2017/2018 Annual Report on behalf of the Healthy Land and Water Board of Directors.
Like many of our fellow Natural Resource Management (NRM) organisations in Queensland, Healthy Land and Water has continued to deliver successful outcomes resulting in a positive difference to our environment, all performed in an increasingly challenging landscape. Changes in national funding programs along with ongoing environmental and development pressures have combined to make the task of delivering change harder than ever.
This is no more evident than in South East Queensland, where we continue to build on the great body of scientific endeavor and environmental rehabilitation conducted over the last two decades that have delivered significant advances in catchment health. Yet, under the threat of ongoing climate change, ever threatening severe weather events and the projected population growth of an estimated 2 million people in South East Queensland by 2041, this highlights the need to continue the effort and resourcing required to maintain the health of our region.
In South East Queensland, 716 hectares of new area under weed control, 52 new projects initiated, over 2km of stream bank flood engineering works and over 85,000 items of rubbish collected from our waterways are all examples of outcomes achieved this year to ensure the health of the region.
As has always been the case, we can’t achieve these outcomes alone, so we continue to deeply value the support from our funding partners, our owner organisations, our collaborating partners and of course, all members of the community, both individuals and groups who contribute to making South East Queensland a strong region to live.
In addition to these achievements in the region, I am also most proud to reflect on our journey in understanding and acknowledge the position and contribution of the Indigenous people of South East Queensland and indeed Aboriginal Australians across the nation, in helping us to achieve our environmental goals, respectful of the culture and the knowledge they have developed in this country for tens of thousands of years.
In 2018, Healthy Land and Water developed and submitted our Reconciliation Action Plan to Reconciliation Australia. To support this plan we have developed an Indigenous Engagement Strategy Committee, of which an Indigenous Action Plan outlines practical steps we will take along our journey of cultural understanding with Aboriginal Australians.
As 2018 draws to a close, I would like to sincerely thank our federal, state and local governments for their support of our programs. In particular, the Hon. David Littleproud MP, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon Melissa Price MP, Minister for the Environment, Trevor Evans, MP, Federal Member for Brisbane, the Hon. Leeanne Enoch MP, Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts and the Hon. Dr Anthony Lynham, Member for Stafford, Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy.
Sincere thanks also to our owners; the South East Queensland Council of Mayors, the South East Queensland Catchment Members Association and the South East Queensland Utilities; Seqwater, Queensland Urban Utilities and Unitywater, for their continued co-operation and support.
Thanks to my fellow Directors for their commitment and support to the delivery of the Healthy Land and Water strategic plan over the past 12 months.
And finally I extend my thanks to the entire Healthy Land and Water team, led by our Chief Executive Officer Julie McLellan, for their drive, commitment and passion in delivering on the vision of our organisation.
- Stephen Robertson, Healthy Land and Water Chair
A COMPLEX JOURNEY
Healthy Land and Water has spent considerable time in the last 18 months examining its culture and working out how we can better transform our organisation. While we have made major steps in the areas of personal safety, we have not focused enough on cultural safety.
In an effort to address this, in 2018 Healthy Land and Water’s Directors and Executive team attended a two-day Cultural Respect and Safety Workshop on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island). The workshop was led by Sharon Gollan, a direct descendent of the Ngarrindjeri nation of South Australia.
Healthy Land and Water, in delivering our objects, vision and mission focuses on land and sea. We work on Country. To be truly respectful of the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which we work requires strong understanding of the journey Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Australians have been on, and their connection to Country.
The workshop helped us to recognise and understand how dominant culture can impact on experiences, opportunities and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and enabled us to identify understand and respond to racism, including institutional racism. The workshop led us on a journey of self-exploration and understanding the impact of our beliefs, and how our upbringing and ethnicity shapes who we are and how we walk on this land. The journey took us through a range of emotions: denial, disbelief, anger, guilt, sadness, some fleeting, some lasting.
While the focus of this workshop concerned the position of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Australians, Healthy Land and Water remains committed to be respectful to all cultures and to ensure the safety of all our employees, regardless of race or colour.
In 2018, Healthy Land and Water developed and submitted our Reconciliation Action Plan to the Federal Government. We have developed an Indigenous Engagement Strategy Committee to support this plan, which includes an Indigenous Action Plan that consists of practical steps we will take along our cultural journey.
And we are poised at the very start of this journey. Through a deeper personal connection with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Australians, our organisation will be truly transformed and ultimately we will be much better equipped to care for the natural assets that our country’s original inhabitants have done for so long.
Julie McLellan, Healthy Land and Water Chief Executive Officer
Found only in tiny pockets of lowland subtropical rainforest in northern New South Wales and South East Queensland, the pink underwing moth is rare, elusive and, sadly, critically endangered. Fully-matured pink underwing moths are recognisable by their bright pink wing spots and large 14cm wingspans. Yet the moth is perhaps most infamous for its bizarre appearance as maturing larvae, when it develops an intimidating head display to ward off predators. The markings resemble two large eyes and a row of brilliant white teeth, giving off the appearance of a creature that belongs in a Predator film rather than the Australian rainforest.
Since the southern pink underwing moth was first identified in 1973, known populations have declined due largely to habitat loss and weed infestation. Pink underwing moth larvae only eat the carronia vine, a small and uncommon collapsed rainforest shrub. In early 2017, Healthy Land and Water launched an effort in conjunction with Sunshine Coast Council and the National Landcare Program to restore carronia vine habitat at Cahill Scrub Bushland Reserve on the Sunshine Coast. The project relies on the volunteering support of Friends of Cahill Scrub (FOCS), a passionate group of local residents who are determined to provide the southern pink underwing moth with a much-needed lifeline.
FOCS volunteers have worked alongside contractors and restoration experts including Healthy Land and Water Senior Scientist Bruce Lord to remove weeds from the reserve, repair damaged sections of the habitat and plant dozens of native rainforest species including carronia vine. A large component of the project is ongoing maintenance and monitoring to ensure invasive weeds are kept at bay and the new plantings take hold.
The project is a testament to Healthy Land and Water's committment to caring for biodiversity and working with community and government to improve South East Queensland's environment.
Restoring Shellfish Habitat
Shellfish have been synonymous with indigenous culture and Moreton Bay for thousands of years. Vibrant shellfish reefs were a valuable resource for Traditional Owners and shellfish farming was one of the first major industries following European occupation. But with overharvesting, disease and water pollution, native shellfish reefs in South East Queensland and Australia have been significantly depleted. In the Pumicestone Passage, shellfish communities are functionally extinct.
In 2015, Healthy Land and Water began a collaborative project with Traditional Owners, fishing groups, oyster farmers, local government, utilities, research institutions and community groups to restore the Pumicestone Passage's shellfish reef habitats to their former glory.
The project is crucial because shellfish are an incredibly important cog in marine ecosystems. Known as the "kidneys of the coast" due to their natural filtration properties, shellfish improve water clarity by drawing in particles and distributing them to the seafloor. Once grown, each shellfish can filter up to 100 litres of water a day, helping to create an environment that allows many other plant and animal species in estuaries and coastal bays to thrive.
After years of research, the project team settled on a plan to install artifical shellfish reefs made from recycled shells and other materials. The artifical reefs provide an attachment point for shellfish, and the embedded recycled shells act as a food-source for shellfish larvae as they mature. As shellfish populations expand, they support the growth of important fish species, enhance marine biodiversity and and ultimately improve water quality in the Moreton Bay region.
The first artificial shellfish reefs were installed within a one hectare site offshore of Kakudu Beach at Bribie Island in December 2017. To honour their inextricable link to Moreton Bay and shellfish communities, relatives of Traditional Owners helped assemble the potato starch reefs under the guidance of the Dutch developers who made the journey to Australia for the launch.
Three different structures were embedded underwater, including patch reefs of shell weighted with reef balls, steel cages full of recycled shell and an Australian-first biodegradable potato starch matrix developed in the Netherlands. A combination of recycled and live shells were used.
Almost a year on from the installation, initial results look extremely promising. A University of Sunshine Coast study found fish abundance, species richness and harvestable fish numbers had doubled since the installation. The potato starch matrix reefs appear to be the most successful installation so far, with the study finding these installations are consistently surrounded by a higher average diversity and abundance of fish compared to nearby control sites. Most excitingly, fish distributions across lower Pumicestone Passage have changed slightly since the installations, and some species have moved closer to the reef areas.
The project will be monitored by the University of the Sunshine Coast marine science team for three years and it is hoped the continued success of the project will encourage similar restoration work to be replicated elsewhere in the Moreton Bay Marine Park. Years in the making, the project exemplifies Healthy Land and Water's continued drive for innovative techniques to help improve marine ecosystems in South East Queensland.
The Clean Up Program crew - consisting of Jim Hinds and his sons Nick and Patrick - head out most mornings in a small tinny to collect floating and bank-bound rubbish. The crew patrol the Brisbane River, Bremer River, Caboolture River, Logan River and various waterways throughout the Gold Coast, with the aim of removing the waste before it flows into Moreton Bay. Often, the Hinds clan return to shore with a boatload of garbage bags full of plastic bottles, wood, chairs, discarded fishing equipment and a host of weird and unique pieces of litter.
Litter has a devastating impact on marine wildlife and ecosystems, and visible litter discourages residents and tourists from accessing waterways, creating a significant economic impact for communities that rely on waterways as a source of income and employment. Litter pollution is an issue facing all corners of SEQ, and that's why a range of organisations including Brisbane City Council, Ipswich City Council, Logan City Council, City of Gold Coast, the Queensland state government and Port of Brisbane contibuted to the program in the 2017/2018 financial year.
In the 2017/18 financial year, the Clean Up crew plucked more than 85,000 pieces of litter out of South East Queensland's waterways. As in years past, single-use plastic bottles were the most common item picked out the river. A staggering 18,552 bottles were removed, alongside 14,000 pieces of food packaging, more than 12,000 plastic pieces and almost 11,000 pieces of styrofoam. In one of the stranger retrievals during the financial year, the crew even pulled a full-size lounge out of the Brisbane River much to the relief of nearby boaties and CityCat captains.
A key component of the Clean Up program is meticulous data collection and analysis. Every piece of litter removed from waterways is recorded and added to a database, allowing Healthy Land and Water to build an understanding of where litter is coming from so it can be prevented at the source. The data is publically available and also helps government, community and industry groups plan where to target their prevention efforts.
The Clean Up program was one of Healthy Land and Water's most high-profile and successful initiatives in 2018. The story of the Clean Up crew was heavily featured by news outlets including Channel Nine Brisbane, Channel Seven Brisbane, The Guardian, Brisbane Times, The Courier-Mail, ABC News Brisbane and Caboolture Shire Herald. Almost 20 years since its inception, the Clean Up Program is a fine example of why collaboration is such an important tool in the ongoing mission to improve and protect South East Queensland's environment.
For almost 20 years, the annual Healthy Land and Water Awards have recognised everyday South East Queensland residents who work to improve and protect the environment. For the 2018 Awards, a new category was introduced to recognise people who have delivered outstanding and lifelong contributions to the environment. Under the dome of Brisbane City Hall, Wayne Cameron was named the inagural inductee into the Healthy Land and Water Awards Hall of Fame. It was fitting reward for a selfless man.
Wayne's journey in environmental management started in New South Wales in the 1980s when he volunteered for a landcare group. In the 1990s, Wayne settled in Queensland and in 1997 he was one of the founding members of Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (B4C). In those early days, Wayne would work the late-night shift at his newspaper job and then volunteer his time during the day to B4C. It was a gruelling schedule, but it underlined Wayne’s commitment to and passion for the environment.
Eventually, Wayne and his team’s hard work saw B4C establish itself as a trusted deliverer of important restoration work in Brisbane’s south-east region. The ongoing success and influence of B4C success allowed Wayne to transition into a full-time paid role as B4C president, where he oversaw all the organisation’s projects throughout the South East Queensland area and beyond. In that time, Wayne’s contributions to the environment have been immense. He played a key role in the stunning transformation of Bulimba Creek from a waste dump to a fish haven and was part of the successful fight against the damming of the Mary River.
In his time with B4C, Wayne has helped establish over a dozen community environment organisations and is a trusted and key advisor for many council and communities focused on environmental management.
While Healthy Land and Water's main focus is delivering environmental projects and programs that improve South East Queensland, recognising the incredible passion and dedication of everyday people is seen as vitally important to our vision and mission. And Wayne Cameron deserves that recognition more than anyone.
As the custodians of South East Queensland’s water supply, Seqwater, Queensland Urban Utilities and Unitywater work in tandem with Healthy Land and Water to improve and protect the region’s catchments and waterways.
Healthy Land and Water helps deliver several on-ground catchment and weed management projects funded by the water utilities that are designed to improve water quality and safeguard South East Queensland’s water supply. Seqwater, Queensland Urban Utilities and Unitywater are crucial partners as we strive to make South East Queensland a healthier place to live.
Council of Mayors (SEQ)
The Council of Mayors (SEQ) was established in September 2005 as an independent political advocacy organisation to represent the interests of South East Queensland, one of the nation’s fastest growing regions. Council of Mayors (SEQ) consists of ten mayors representing the eleven councils that make up the South East Queensland local government region. The organisation uses its united voice and leverage to advocate for a better resourced SEQ with world-standard infrastructure and healthy and sustainable environments.
Council of Mayors (SEQ) works closely with Healthy Land and Water on a number of projects including the Resilient Rivers Initiative, which aims to improve the health of SEQ’s waterways by delivering a coordinated approach to catchment management.
Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation
Healthy Land and Water shares a close bond with the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC). QYAC was formed in formed in 2011 under the Native Title Act to represent the interests of the Quandamooka people, who have called the lands and waters around Moreton Bay home for tens of thousands of years.
QYAC and Healthy Land and Water work collaboratively on many environmental projects, and the partnership grew stronger in 2015 when the two organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU was the first of its kind between an Indigenous organisation and a natural resource management group in Queensland.
Under the terms of the MoU, QYAC is able to utilise Healthy Land and Water’s project delivery expertise and experience to improve its capacity to conserve and protect the environment. In return, Healthy Land and Water draws on the Quandamooka people’s thousands of years of experience on the land, and builds its capacity to become a culturally competent organisation.
The South East Queensland Catchments Members Association (SEQCMA) is an alliance between community, government and industry focused on finding solutions to issues affecting South East Queensland’s environment. SEQCMA is an owner/member of Healthy Land and Water and works closely with our project teams to identify and develop solutions that build resilience into our landscapes and waterways.
The association’s purpose is to bring many elements of the community together as one loud voice in the fight to improve and protect our lands, forests, bushland, waterways, wetlands and coastal regions.
With over 200 members, SEQCMA is uniquely placed to effect meaningful change. Members include catchment and landcare groups, agriculture, tourism and local government bodies, Traditional Owners and community members.
SEQCMA members have a say on management planning, prioritisation of activity and funding of projects in order to meet the long-term targets detailed in the SEQ Natural Resource Management Plan 2009-2031.
I am so proud to lead an organisation full of so many passionate and talented people who dedicate their daily lives to improving the environment. It was a pleasure working with you in the 2018 financial year, and I look forward to continue our special journey together in 2019.
- Julie McLellan, Healthy Land and Water Chief Executive Officer