Collaboration between drivers of change is achieving greater outcomes than if separate bodies go it alone - that is the realisation after two years of floodplain restoration on the Macquarie River at Dubbo.
OzFish and Landcare have partnered to perform fresh and salt water habitat restoration across NSW but the momentum of their project at Dubbo is a standout, says OzFish project manager Braeden Lampard.
The project is supported with funding from the NSW Recreational Fishing Trusts.
To mark a milestone on the Macquarie the 10,000th tree has been planted by local fishers, one of a diversity of species all intended to provide homes for bugs and birds.
"What we're doing is building food hub for fish," says Mr Lampard.
Other work in the catchment includes the creation of aquatic habitat by placing logs and rocks in the streambed.
"We know that by providing food and habitat native fish will come back," he says.
Read more: FMD won't lead to beef or dairy shortage
Read more: Delayed ripening yields better wine
While OzFish and Landcare have partnered on similar aquatic restoration projects from the mangroves of the lower Richmond River to the Murray at Wagga and the Gwydir near Moree but the Macquarie project has a special momentum that goes back a decade ago to when the Inland Waterways Rejuvenation Association formed at Dubbo.
The work begun by the IWRA back then has been instrumental in the restoration of the Macquarie and the group was responsible for many of the 10,000 trees that have now been planted, through its River Repair Bus.
Three years later they joined with OzFish and with that history of fishing community involvement the latest project on floodplain land owned by Dubbo Zoo has realised 2500 trees planted over 2.5 hectares.
In the area of the Macquarie River alone, the local OzFish Inland Waterways Chapter, based at Dubbo, is making a significant difference to the local environment and communities. This includes its innovative River Repair Bus - a vehicle dedicated to taking OzFish volunteers where they need to be to restore vital waterways across the region, and work on restoring and repairing the river five days a week.
The new trees will also provide valuable shade and food for native fish in the river - protecting their numbers and building a healthy ecosystem around and in the water.
The beleaguered waterways in the region have endured significant degradation over a prolonged period, including severe fire, flood, and drought events in recent years, and need major attention if they are to be returned to healthy and thriving environments.
We see that we are building social outcomes as well. We are building capacity within community groups to identify, plan and deliver more of these projects.- Braeden Lampard
Along with planting there is room in the budget for follow up maintenance, particularly weeding and watering to allow the planted species to get established.
Mr Lampard said the ability of OzFish and Landcare to access government grants from all three tiers - local, state and federal - and to link arms in following through with projects meant there was a new scale of delivery, thus the excitement at witnessing the 10,000th tree go in the ground.
In the wake of flooding on the eastern seaboard OzFish has been inundated with calls about potential projects that might provide food and habitat while slowing down water.
But Mr Lampard says the focus on existing projects is first and foremost, with "value-adding" of new plantings adjacent to existing work seen as most beneficial.
This enhanced work has taken place at Dubbo and the results are showing an increase in water quality.
One of the tests that OzFish carries out is a Horiba test for water quality, and environmental DNA sampling, which identifies the potential for life in that watercourse.
One species the project is especially keen to foster is the purple spotted gudgeon, currently endangered.
While not a table fish it is indicative of river health - provided they return to that waterway - and also shows that the project is about the whole ecosystem, not just a means for more recreational fishing fun.
Certainly the funding momentum is strong, with $350,000 in cash and almost the same in kind - mostly volunteer labour - budgeted in the last financial year across the OzFish and Landcare partnership.
Across the whole of the state there are 30 salt and fresh water projects, many of them on private land. State-wide the OzFish and Landcare collaboration has rejuvenated 50km of waterways and planted 26,000 trees.
"We see that we are building social outcomes as well," says Mr Lampard. "We are building capacity within community groups to identify, plan and deliver more of these projects."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.