Vegetation protection on the Wakefield River

This project is now complete.

The aim of this project was to protect and enhance important riparian refugia along the Wakefield River by supporting sustainable farming practices and landscape-scale conservation of native vegetation by private and public landholders.

The focus was managing threats (weeds, stock access) and strategic revegetation within an agricultural landscape, expanding on existing natural resources management (NRM) projects.

This catchment contains two nationally threatened ecological communities and 27 nationally threatened species.

Activities included: weed control targeting Weeds of National Significance (WoNS); fencing and watering point relocation; revegetation; developing management agreements with landholders for ongoing best practice; and engagement strategies to enhance landholder skills and knowledge.

It was designed to address the Caring for our Country 2012-13 targets: 

  • Biodiversity and Natural Icons
    • Increasing native habitat
  • Sustainable Farm Practices
    • Landscape scale conservation

Project background

Project area

The project area was a 25km section of riparian land along the Wakefield River extending from The Rocks Reserve in the west to the township of Undalya in the east. The Wakefield River catchment (690 square kilometres) is located 100 kilometres north of Adelaide and is easterly bound by the Northern Mount Lofty Ranges. The Wakefield River flows westerly from the ranges across a floodplain area discharging into the Gulf of St Vincent. Watercourse surveys have recorded important riparian habitat (44 kilometres) and good native vegetation (54 kilometres).

River Management Plan

This project implemented recommendations from the Wakefield River Management Plan (2000) contributing to landscape scale conservation as follows:

  • High value riparian habitat a high priority for management of grazing, exotic plant control and revegetation
  • Protection and regeneration of native vegetation to improve habitat
  • Stock management which reduces the impacts on riparian vegetation
  • Program to facilitate better watercourse management in the catchment
  • Watercourse management field guide be produced
  • Environmental indicators for the catchment be developed
  • Long term monitoring program be established to assess watercourse condition
  • Develop and implement a community and stakeholder education program
  • Plan information be integrated into strategic and operational plans of local government

The project activities were also undertaken to promote natural regeneration of the native riparian vegetation and incorporate strategic revegetation as guided by recommendations of the draft national recovery plans for the peppermint box grassy woodland and iron-grass natural temperate grassland of South Australia ecological communities.

Project activities

This project addressed major threats (weeds, stock access) preventing landscape connectivity – enhancing and restoring native riparian vegetation. It increased the condition, connectivity and resilience of important ecological and evolutionary refugia for nationally listed species within an agricultural landscape.

Strategic revegetation with listed species from the characteristic flora of the two nationally threatened ecological communities was undertaken across the project area to strengthen the links along this critical habitat and buffer this area of high conservation value at the landscape scale against potential future impacts of surrounding land uses.

On-ground revegetation and watering point relocation increased the connectivity of these threatened ecological communities across the catchment improving their resilience to climate changes predicted for the region.

Volunteers and community groups were involved in project activities where-ever possible – to increase community ownership of this valuable riparian refugia.