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Riparian

Riparian forest is the vegetation beside waterways which can help reduce pollutant losses to waterways.

Great Barrier Reef

Since pre-European times, 18% of riparian forest has been lost. Reef Plan aims to halt this loss. The loss of riparian forest was caused by a range of factors including modifications to hydrology and clearing of vegetation.

Riparian loss

Target: Improved condition and extent of riparian areas.

Result: Moderate progress

Loss of riparian forest decreased from 0.65% (41,490ha) between 2001 and 2005 to 0.39% (24,636ha) between 2005 and 2009. The greatest reduction in the rate of loss of riparian forest was in the Fitzroy region, down from 1.12% (21,153ha) between 2001 and 2005 to 0.48% (9069ha) between 2005 and 2009.

Riparian forest is the vegetation beside waterways which can help reduce pollutant losses to waterways.

Graph data (.csv, 1 KB)

From 2005 to 2009, the Burnett Mary region had the highest proportion of riparian forest loss with 0.89% (7889ha), followed by the Mackay Whitsunday region with 0.50% (672ha). Between 2001 and 2005 the highest proportion of vegetation loss occurred in the Fitzroy region, with a loss of 1.12% (21,153ha), followed by the Burnett Mary region which experienced a loss of 1.02% (9037ha).

The loss of riparian forest has decreased across all regions except Mackay Whitsunday and the Wet Tropics where little or no change was reported.

Graph data (.csv, 1 KB)

Approximately 6.39m ha of riparian areas were mapped in the Great Barrier Reef region. In 2009, the forested area was approximately 79% (5.03m ha). The loss of riparian forest since pre-European extent was an estimated 18% (1.2m ha).

In 2009, 1.63% (103,854ha) of the Great Barrier Reef region was classed as non-forested and low groundcover within riparian areas. This included degraded areas such as gullies which have a higher risk of erosion, but also some areas of sandbars and rocky streams where erosion is unlikely to be a concern.

Cape York

Riparian loss

The Cape York region lost the lowest proportion of riparian forest out of all the Great Barrier Reef regions with only 0.03% (265ha) of clearing between 2005 and 2009. This compares to 424ha (0.05%) from 2001 to 2005.

Graph data (.csv, 1 KB)

Approximately 939,669ha of riparian areas were mapped within the Cape York region. Historically, there has been limited change in riparian forest in this region.

In the Cape York region, 0.16% (1541ha) of riparian areas were non-forested with low groundcover. The low groundcover areas were mainly associated with coastal sand dunes in the Jacky Jacky and Jeannie catchments.

Wet Tropics

Riparian loss

Loss of riparian forest remained constant at 0.16% when comparing 2001–2005 (734ha) with 2005–2009 (753ha). The Murray catchment had the highest riparian forest loss with 0.83% (135ha) between 2005 and 2009. However, this was 0.46% lower compared to 2001 to 2005. 

Graph data (.csv, 1 KB)

Most catchments had a very minor increase in riparian loss between 2001 to 2005 and 2005 to 2009. The Mossman, Barron, Herbert and Tully catchments had riparian forest losses of 0.19% (31ha), 0.32% (144ha), 0.19% (340ha) and 0.16% (45ha), respectively. The Daintree, Mulgrave-Russell and Johnstone catchments had riparian forest losses of 0.01% (10ha), 0.06% (19ha) and 0.08% (29ha), respectively.

Graph data (.csv, 1 KB)

Approximately 472,889ha of riparian areas were mapped in the Wet Tropics region. In 2009, the forested riparian area was approximately 91% (429,677ha) of the riparian area. Historically, approximately 6% (28,000ha) of riparian forest has been lost from pre-European extent.

In the Wet Tropics region, 0.41% (1948ha) of riparian areas were non-forested and had low groundcover, potentially leading to lower bank stability and an increased risk of erosion. The highest proportion was in the Herbert catchment with 0.63% (1132ha).

Burdekin

Riparian loss

Loss of riparian forest between 2005 and 2009 was 0.29% (5988ha). This was 0.17% (3537ha) less than 2001 to 2005. However, in the Black, Ross and Don catchments there was an increase in riparian forest loss from 2005 to 2009 compared with 2001 to 2005.

Graph data (.csv, 1 KB)

The loss of riparian forest in the Black and Ross catchments was 0.84% (277ha) and 0.98% (408ha), respectively. The loss of riparian forest in the Burdekin, Haughton and Don catchments was 0.26% (4848ha), 0.25% (237ha) and 0.33% (218ha) respectively.

Graph data (.csv, 1 KB)

Approximately 2.08m ha of riparian areas were mapped in the Burdekin region. In 2009, the forested riparian area was approximately 77% (1.6m ha). Historically approximately 19% (400,000ha) of riparian forest has been lost from pre-European extent.

In the Burdekin region, 2.78% (57,764ha) of riparian areas were non-forested with low groundcover. This region had the highest proportion of low groundcover potentially leading to lower bank stability and an increased risk of erosion.

Mackay Whitsunday

Riparian loss

Loss of riparian forest increased from 0.46% (617ha) between 2001 and 2005 to 0.5% (672ha) between 2005 and 2009. The O’Connell catchment had the highest loss of riparian forest with 0.92% (312ha).

Graph data (.csv, 1 KB)

In the O’Connell and Plane catchments, loss of riparian forest increased when comparing 2001 to 2005 with 2005 to 2009. The loss of riparian forest in the Pioneer, Proserpine and Plane catchments was 0.08% (28ha), 0.51% (163ha) and 0.49% (169ha), respectively.

Graph data (.csv, 1 KB)

Approximately 133,876ha of riparian areas were mapped in the Mackay Whitsunday region. In 2009, the forested riparian area was approximately 76% (101,873ha). Historically approximately 22% (30,000ha) of riparian forest has been lost from pre-European extent.

In the Mackay Whitsunday region, 0.47% (635ha) of riparian areas were non-forested with low groundcover, potentially leading to lower bank stability and an increased risk of erosion.

Fitzroy

Riparian loss

Loss of riparian forest decreased considerably from 1.12% (21,153ha) between 2001 and 2005 to 0.48% (9069ha) between 2005 and 2009.

There was significant riparian forest loss in the Styx catchment with 1.23% (552ha) and Waterpark catchment with 1.79% (555ha) between 2005 and 2009. The loss of riparian forest in the Shoalwater and Waterpark catchments increased from 2001 to 2005 and 2005 to 2009.

Graph data (.csv, 1 KB)

Riparian forest loss in the Fitzroy, Shoalwater, Calliope and Boyne catchments was 0.44% (7359ha), 0.47% (325ha), 0.52% (169ha) and 0.25% (109ha), respectively.

Graph data (.csv, 1 KB)

Approximately 1.88m ha of riparian areas were mapped in the Fitzroy region. In 2009, the forested riparian area was approximately 71% (1.3m ha). Historically approximately 26% (490,000ha) of riparian forest has been lost from pre-European extent.

In the Fitzroy region, 2.03% (38,169ha) of riparian areas were non-forested with low groundcover potentially leading to lower bank stability and an increased risk of erosion. This is the second highest proportion of all Great Barrier Reef regions.

Burnett Mary

Riparian loss

The Burnett Mary region had the greatest loss of riparian forest between 2005 and 2009 of all the regions with 0.89% (7889ha). Loss in the Burrum catchment increased from 0.79% (341ha) between 2001 and 2005 to 1.62% (700ha) between 2005 and 2009. However this was a reduction from 9037ha (1.02%) between 2001 and 2005.

Graph data (.csv, 1 KB)

Most catchments had a decrease in loss of riparian forest, except for the Baffle and Burrum catchments. Loss in the Burrum catchment increased from 0.79% (341ha) between 2001 and 2005 to 1.62% (700ha) between 2005 and 2009. Loss in the Baffle catchment increased from 1.09% (605ha) between 2001 and 2005 to 1.3% (722ha) between 2005 and 2009.

Riparian forest loss in the Burnett, Kolan and Mary catchments was 0.81% (4080ha), 0.61% (285ha) and 0.91% (2102ha), respectively.

Graph data (.csv, 1 KB)

Approximately 881,837ha of riparian areas were mapped in the Burnett Mary region. In 2009, the forested riparian area was approximately 74% (653,215ha). Historically, approximately 25% (220,000ha) of riparian forest has been lost from pre-European extent.

In the Burnett Mary region, 0.43% (3797ha) of riparian areas were non-forested with low groundcover potentially leading to lower bank stability and an increased risk of erosion.

Last updated:
27 August, 2014
Last reviewed:
21 May, 2013

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