REVEGETATING rivers and creeks can be tricky to say the least. You have to deal with floods, erosion and often frost. However given a few tricks of the trade you can still restore tree cover to creeks that will in turn, reduce erosion, provide shade and provide complex habitat for all the animals in and along the waterway.
First step is to get your head around the technical lingo of revegetation. River and creek banks are now referred to as “Riparian Zones”, snags or dead trees in the water are called LWD (Large Woody Debris) etc. Ahhh for the good old days when a river bank was a river bank and a dead tree in the creek was just that! These terms can be handy however if you are seeking funding for restoration works.
Any vegetation on a creek bank is better than none, and this also includes woody weeds. Ideally management of weeds should see a gradual transition to native vegetation rather than wholesale removal of weed at a cost to bank stability, shade, habitat etc…
Quite often we don’t consider planting or retaining a wide enough strip of vegetation along the river bank. At a minimum, revegetation should be planted all the way to the top of the bank and preferably beyond this by at least 10 to 20 metres. This allows for the development of a wide strip of root mat to bind the whole creek bank.
Lomandra are great for riverbank stabilisation, they are tough, flood resilient and long lived. Planted at one half to one metre centres they will provide a solid cover to stabilise areas of high erosion potential, once established. Jute mat blanket mulch may be required to assist this establishment. Jute mat can be a costly but very effective way of establishing groundcover vegetation and providing temporary stabilisation to creek or riverbanks.
Pick the right trees for the right river or creek. Waterhousea (Waterhousea floribunda), River SheOak (Casuarina cunninghamii) and Black Ti-tree (Melaleuca bracteata) are fantastic on lower altitude creeks and rivers, Blackbean (Castanospermum australe), Syzygium francisii, Small Leaved Fig (Ficus obliqua) are just a few of the rainforest species great on the range (if you can beat the frost).
Revegetation of creek and riverbanks isn’t an instant fix, and given the dynamic nature of our waterways the creation of a perfect, erosion free, stable environment is not only impossible, but perhaps not even natural. Waterways are dynamic, complex, changing environments – what is certain is that we need to reinstate trees and woody vegetation back along our waterways, for water quality, land management, habitat – and so that we have a nice cool place to swim on a summers day!
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