Watershed Revitalisation Project
Kachana Watershed Project
Latitude: 16deg. 31min. Longitude: 127deg. 47min.
We are demonstrating that the use of controlled and managed herds is a very effective tool in the restoration of watersheds and upper-river rainfall-catchment health…
Perhaps appropriately managed herds are the only tool available to mankind that can realistically be applied to address rangeland health issues on millions of square kilometers worldwide…
How do we define rangeland health?
Health has to do with “Life”:
- Vitality in a single organism…
- Vitality in a group of organisms…
- Vitality in a population…
So how does one attempt to define the “health” of a resource base that provides life to populations of organisms that include humans?
Well there are enough well referenced books out there for those who wish to indulge in that academic debate…
As custodians of the land we require sustained productivity and sufficient resilience to cope with the unexpected…
- We wish to see a dynamic balance of populations working together at making effective use of the sunlight energy that is beamed in each day (effective energy flow)
- Our annual rainfall needs to be captured and retained to water soils, plants and other organisms (an effective water cycle to include the nightly formation of dew and the transport of moisture from wetter to drier micro-sites in the form of dung and urine)
- Minerals that have been mobilized from their parent materials need to remain in the area and be made available as nutrients to organisms (mineral cycle)
- We want to see stable productive living soils being “fed” by vigorous plant-growth which in turn is kept mulched, fertilized and pruned through appropriate biological processes; carbon and nutrients are captured and retained; we want to see these minerals being cycled and recycled within the system…(Community dynamics)
In summary we need to see life-sustaining opportunity for ourselves at the apex of the energy-pyramid and therefore also for all the biodiversity that we depend on.
Photo 1A: Taken July 2007 - KACHANA WATERSHED PROJECT AREA
An aerial overview of the area; boundaries are not yet clearly visible, but it is becoming obvious (even to the untrained eye) that something different is happening and that humans play a part in this...
In buffer areas surrounding our project area low fuel loads are maintained by set stocking with cattle and donkeys, and patch burning during the wet season and early in the dry season.
The area was first fenced August 2003 and first treated with high animal impact during the dry-season 2004.
August 2005 a significant wildfire disturbed the whole area…
While this ongoing project, which began in 1998, has had numerous setbacks we have not given up on focusing on where we wish to take it: We chose a watershed between two creek systems that is typical for many areas of central Kimberley range country…
Given that we are using biology, what we are demonstrating is scale neutral; therefore what will work on one hectare will also work on a thousand hectares or more. In conjunction with this particular project we are in the process of rehabilitating approximately two square kilometers. We have animal-maintained, low-fuel buffer zones with ground-cover around the edges.
Much precious time was invested in attempting to attract public funding and support for this project, but to no avail. We therefore cannot justify doing all the scientific monitoring that should be associated with a project like this. We are producing the results as predicted and surrounding areas serve as “controls” for those who wish to analyse the nature of micro-climatic change that we are inducing.
Visible and tangible results on the ground remain our highest priority so please bear with us until we can justify the time to better document things on the web…
Meanwhile below are some photos and comments as a taste of things to come…
Photo 1B: Taken July 2007 - KACHANA WATERSHED PROJECT AREASame as photo 1A, but shows the location of the Alligator Airways Island of Biodiversity and the Kachana “Kan-do Demonstration” site.
Photo 2A: Taken July 2007 - Kachana “Kan-do Demonstration” site
One of the failed submissions for funding was for a nation-wide project to include a 20 hectare plot in each state of Australia where land managers could demonstrate to the public what they actually “Kan Do”: Taking local knowledge and marrying it with cutting edge science, new skills and an holistic decision making process in order to maximize land health and optimize productivity.
The reasoning is as follows:
There is sufficient knowledge and willingness out there in the field for land managers to positively impact Australian rangelands on a scale way beyond current industry limitations. What is missing is incentive, appropriate legislation and community partnership structures that enable land managers to move from an immediate need to justify their financial investments to becoming custodians of the land on behalf of the many who chose to live in communities, towns and cities.While we wait for this sort of practical rangeland-research to attract funding and agency support, the comprehensive web-page on the “Kan-Do” concept has been left on the drawing board and so has the planned 20 Ha Kachana Kan-Do Plot.. We are however giving three strips of land the “Kan-Do Treatment” as small demonstration of what is possible…
Photo 2B: Taken July 2007 - Kachana “Kan-do Demonstration” site
A, B & C: Three sections being given “Kan-Do Treatment” to enhance biodiversity and productivity
D: Water-point for stock at edge of creek. Animals can access water
for drinking but cannot stand in it.
Large animals are only required on site for a few hours each year, but
they require water. Water as an incentive to do the
required mulching, fertilizing and pruning of plants; water that is then
brought back out onto dry landscapes in the form of
dung and urine to enable microorganisms to continue the work…
E & F: Low fuel zones are maintained by high animal-impact treatment as
required. Low fuel zones mitigate the effects of wildfire.
Photo 3A: Taken July 2007 - Alligator Airways Island of Biodiversity from the air.
Photo 3B: Taken July 2007 - Alligator Airways Island of Biodiversity
G: Temporary stock-camp area; in use whilst we manage a herd as a 'landscape tool'
H: Favoured water point of the rare and locally endangered Gouldian Finch now breeding in this area.
(The first Gouldian was spotted in this area April 2004.)
J: The controlled use of herd animals is used to maintain an effective wild-fire buffer around the
‘Island of Biodiversity’
K: In areas where tight herd control is financially unaffordable and where wild-fire poses a significant
risk, fuel loads are kept down by set stocking of cattle and donkeys…
(Once effective regional wildfire mitigation strategies are in place this can change.)
Healing land naturally…
Kachana Pastoral Company offers consulting with a special emphasis on environmental health issues affecting upper catchments.
Kachana Pastoral Company also offers Landscape Management Advice to Industry. The correct use of livestock as a tool does not need to impact existing production enterprises and does not compromise animal welfare issues.