Wetland Regeneration at The Branch

Landholders getting great outcomes with broad partnerships and flexible project planning

Wetland Regeneration at The Branch

Landholders getting great outcomes with broad partnerships and flexible project planning

Collaborations -


The issue

Water quality in the Branch River and lower Karuah River has long been a problem, with water quality testing repeatedly showing high turbidity, nutrients and chlorophyll A (an indicator of algal growth) over the years. Farmers in the lower Karuah and The Branch have been concerned about water quality, but are unable to influence land management in the upper catchment including heavy use of chicken litter from the local broiler industry. A group of landholders in the Karuah River Catchment Landcare Group, auspiced by Karuah & Great Lakes Landcare (KGLL), identified that grazing impacts on the widespread wetland country at The Branch was something they could manage and improve.

The solution

The Karuah River Catchment Landcare Group held a widely promoted field day at the Branch in February 2019, and invited representatives from Hunter Local Land Services and MidCoast Council. At a roundtable meeting in the KRLG convenor Rod Zemanek’s back yard, local landholders discussed their issues and MidCoast Council Catchment Officer Andrew Morris outlined a funding opportunity for works in the Karuah catchment through a MidCoast Council-Landcare Australia partnership. This started the process of local landholders working with HLLS Senior Land Services Officer Geoff LeMessurier on wetland and riparian protection and regeneration projects. Rod’s local advocacy and passion and Geoff’s great experience with landholders’ diverse needs led to the creation of eight unique win-win project plan applications on eight properties at the Branch.

The impact

All eight projects were signed off for funding, with works implemented through 2020. This saw a total of $500,000 in joint funding from Council, Landcare Australia and HLLS and over $1,000,000 worth of in-kind and cash contributions from landholders, supporting the protection of over 270ha of wetlands and 50ha of riparian land at The Branch. Landholders have observed rapid natural regeneration of wetland vegetation. Results and progress are being monitored with drone surveys and a water quality monitoring program conducted by Dr Steve Lucas of the University of Newcastle with funding support from HLLS.


Broad partnerships with multiple landholders and multiple agencies take time and effort to build and sustain, but the results can be fantastic.

Every landholder and every property is unique, and a flexible approach is needed to create win-win project plans.

Key facts

  • 8 projects on 8 properties
  • $500,000 in joint grant funding secured
  • 270ha wetlands protected
  • 50ha riparian land protected

Project Partners