When the extreme rainfall events on the Northern Rivers in February and March 2022 hit it resulted in widespread landslides and devastating impacts across the Northern Rivers. Numerous landholders had internal roads cut off, fences wiped out, paddocks disfigured, hillsides slumped, and forested areas collapsed. This was beyond the scale experienced within living memory leaving affected people completely shocked and perplexed as to what could be done to address the damage.
With the spotlight through this disaster largely on the flooding impact in high population zones, the devastating impacts of landslips in rural areas was largely missed by the media and fell through the cracks of the recovery grants and services.
This is where Landcare stepped in.
Supported by the Local and Regional Landcare Coordinators, the Border Ranges Richmond Valley Landcare Network (BRRVLN) and Richmond Landcare Inc formed a partnership to mobilise on this issue and within a few weeks had mustered together a suite of experts to speak to landholders affected by landslides at a forum held at the Southern Cross University. Attended by nearly 200 people and with a waiting list, this event identified and amplified the need for further support to this issue.
With a rapid turnaround provision of funding from the Northern Rivers Community Foundation, BRRVLN was able to facilitate 28 site inspections with geotechnical engineers and soil conservationists to help landholders understand the dynamics of the landslips, the ongoing risks and the potential for remediation.
This included a field day demonstration of hydro-mulching to support rapid cover to a landslide affected area to stabilize the slope and reduce the risk of further sheet erosion.
Out of tragedy has come learnings and opportunity for growth. The 2022 Northern Rivers floods has brought attention to a poorly recognized element of unsustainable land management. As importantly, it has highlighted the need for resources and expertise to be made available to landholders to better understand landslip risk, adapt land use towards prevention and know where to turn for advice when landslips occur.
Further collaborations and opportunities between all Landcare networks across the Northern Rivers are underway to expand the Landcare response to this need.
This activity was supported by the NSW Landcare Program (2019-2023). This initiative is made possible by the NSW Landcare Program. A collaboration between Landcare NSW and Local Land Services, supported by the NSW Government.