Projects


The Mulloon Institute’s long-term goal is to facilitate 100 landscape rehydration projects across Australia and overseas over the next decade.

We believe in a future where holistic landscape management is a mainstream practice and we want to help other communities adopt land management models that are productive, profitable and sustainable. 

ROLL OUT INVOLVES

  • Collection and publishing of data and findings;

  • Development of handbooks and manuals, training materials and courses;

  • Preparation of financial tools to reduce commercial risks and increase financial outcomes;

  • Conducting of training courses and field days;

  • Development of a simulation tool for project planning, visualisation and management;

  • Outreach programs to inspire other communities to implement similar projects;

  • Packaging a body of expertise and experience to support and optimise the outcomes of future projects;

  • Develop policy guidelines to make future implementations easier.

Ecostructure at Mulloon Creek


Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project 

This project is the model for community programmes to heal and rehabilitate landscapes across Australia, providing stable, resilient and productive landscapes.

The Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project involves 17 landholders and covers an entire catchment of 23,000 hectares of land, including 40 km of creeks and tributaries including Mulloon, Reedy, Sandhills and Shiel Creeks. The project area forms a critical biodiversity corridor by connecting the Tallaganda National Park with the protected State Reserve of the Mid-Shoalhaven Water Catchment. 

It is here that our unique model of holistic landscape repair is being executed, documented and translated into a model adaptable by communities across Australia and the globe. This work combines practical experience and implementation, backed by real data and scientific studies to improve the landscape as a whole, the farming enterprises that operate within it, and the wellbeing of the greater community. 


IMPLEMENTATION

The primary focus of implementation is on creek rapair and erosion control methods to reconnect the Mulloon Creek to its landscape, restoring the creeks and floodplains to as close as possible to their original state and function. 

Creek interventions - ecostructures made with natural materials such as logs and rock - will be made into the creek bed with the goal of: 

  • Preventing further incision of the creek

  • Stop and then reverse erosion

  • Raise the creek bed

  • Slow and filter the flow of water

  • Facilitate water storage in the floodplain

Healthy creeks store water in the adjoining landscape, providing critical soil moisture for flora and fauna to thrive, building resilience for extreme weather conditions. Small creek interventions will be supported by adopting a holistic approach to agriculture and landscape management along the creek, including the use of sustainable grazing methods and leading edge technologies, fencing, tree planting, slope stabilisation and key line formation. 

RESEARCH OBJECTS AND OUTCOMES
 

  • Rehydrate the total landscape of the defined area. Priorities are the floodplains, then the undulating slopes, then the higher country;

  • Create a significant banking system for water;

  • Provide measurably clean water for Sydney with the aim of saving built infrastructure to do this;

  • Increase the productivity and profitability of all farms in the defined area;

  • Measure and account for natural capital;

  • Increase biodiversity of flora and fauna to what will be regarded as a healthy stable state – including vegetation (groundcover, shrubs and trees) animals, birds, insects (especially bees), aquatic and soil life;

  • To be a complete and uncompromised demonstration of the philosophy and practice of Peter Andrews OAM, as well as others who have and will contribute their expertise

  • Through efficiency and effectiveness of all human, financial and natural resources, provide value to not only landowners involved but to the taxpayer providing significant funds for this model of ecosystem services;

  • Undertake and complete a full education and experiential training programme, at different competency levels, for planners, operators, regulators, and financiers, especially farmers, LLS staff, earthmovers, bureaucrats, indigenous natural resource managers, politicians and bankers.

  • To be a model of active community cooperation for “environment, farming, and society".


BASELINE SURVEYS

Several scientific baseline surveys have been conducted prior to the MCLRP to help us monitor the impact of the project on the Mulloon Creek and surrounding catchment.

Invertebrate Survey (2015-16)
Australian National University

Baseline Bird Survey (2015-17)
NSW Office of Environment & Heritage

Baseline Fish Survey (2016)
University of Canberra

Baseline Frog Survey (2017)
ACT and Region Frogwatch


Pilot Project - Natural Sequence Farming

Prior to European settlement the water in Mulloon Creek moved slowly through a chain of ponds, surrounded by grassy floodplains. When these ponds flooded water spread across the floodplain, depositing sediments and nutrients and banking water in the landscape. The ponds even remained full during times drought.

With the introduction of European farming in the late 1820s, the delicate, energy-dissipating balance that existed between vegetation and the water cycle was dramatically altered by a whole suite of new plant and animal species. What followed was nearly 200 years of soil, nutrient, biodiversity and water loss that turned the creek into a continuous channel cutting through the floodplain like a drain. 

In 2005, our late Founder Tony Coote AM and his wife Toni invited innovative landscape thinker Peter Andrews OAM to their property at Mulloon Creek Natural Farms. That first meeting of minds led to a union which transformed Tony’s property and the deeply eroded creek that ran through it.

Landscaping works began along 3kms of Mulloon Creek in 2006, with the objective of slowing the flow, raising the creek’s water level, de-energising and spreading flood waters, and reinvigorating the floodplain. This included installing a series of erosion control structures (living leaky weirs), fencing to exclude stock and wildlife, and planting of thousands of trees, shrubs, reeds and rushes. The project was supported and supervised by Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority and co-funded by the National Landcare Program



Before - Mulloon Creek upstream of Peter's Pond (1977)

After - Mulloon Creek upstream of Peter's Pond (2015)


Monitoring

One of the most contentious issues for the project was how leaky weirs would affect the system’s hydrology (stream flow, groundwater and rainfall). To measure and understand this, stream gauges were installed above and below the project site, piezometers were set up throughout the floodplain, and a weather stations were installed.

Monitoring has shown an overall improvement to the creek’s flow as it discharges from the project site with the creek maintaining its flow during dry times, even when most of Mulloon Creek dries up completely. This is vividly apparent during drought periods. 

Generally, the same amount of water is flowing through the system but it’s spread out over a greater area and over a longer time, allowing the water to soak in. This allows a greater diversity of creek habitat to develop including an abundance of flora and fauna. The increasing habitat complexity also captures and recycles nutrients more efficiently, which has created many benefits including improved water quality and a significant increase in the primary productivity of the floodplain.

Raising the water level of the creek has also raised the water level under the floodplain. During wetter periods the floodplain is able to recharge (bank water) to a greater extent than before the structures were built. During dry times, this 'banked'water is then slowly released from the floodplain back into the creek, sustaining the system downstream. The next wet cycle then replenishes ‘the bank’ again.


Outcomes

Over ten years later, the creek has become a healthy, vibrant ecosystem, filtering water through its extensive reed beds, capturing flood sediments, recycling nutrients and providing complex habitat for birds, mammals, reptiles, frogs, fish and invertebrates. Productivity in the floodplain through which the creek flows has also increased by 60%.

The Natural Sequence Farming Pilot Project has successfully demonstrated improvements to the health and productivity of a degraded section of Mulloon Creek, resulting in:

  • increased flora and fauna

  • improved water quality

  • sustained water flow

  • 60% increase in agricultural productivity.