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Thousands of native trees planted around region's key water source

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More than 70,000 native trees have been planted on the shores of Lake Baroon, as part of a land care and water quality project.

Seqwater and Lake Baroon Catchment Care Group reached the milestone after three years of planning and planting to rehabilitate the ‘Bunya Block’, a 125-hectare former beef property adjacent to the lake.

The project is minimising erosion and sediment run-off into Lake Baroon, also known as Baroon Pocket Dam, as part of Seqwater’s investment and collaborative community approach to protecting source water quality.

The planted trees are currently up to a metre tall and growing vigorously, providing water catchment benefits as well as supporting native habitat corridors.

Located between Maleny and Montville, Baroon Pocket Dam is connected to the SEQ Water Grid and supplies water to about 75 per cent of the Sunshine Coast.

Seqwater and the Lake Baroon Catchment Care Group have worked together for years delivering on-the-ground land care projects and education programs for one of the Sunshine Coast’s most important water supplies.

Lake Baroon is located between Maleny and Montville in the Blackall Range.

Seqwater has invested more than $7 million into its catchment partnership program in the Lake Baroon catchment during the past decade.

A total of 158,000 trees have been planted across the catchment, which spans 7400 hectares across the Blackall Range.

Catchment projects, including tree planting, weed control, erosion repair, livestock fencing and on-farm land care improvements, help stabilise soil and minimise sedimentation and agricultural run-off into the dam, which in turn reduces the need and cost of excessive water treatment.

The projects are made possible through the ongoing support of local landholders and farming communities.

Minister for Water Glenn Butcher said the project was making a difference.

“This fantastic project is already delivering environmental and water quality benefits to one of South-East Queensland’s largest water supply dams,” he said via a media release.

“I’m pleased to see our publicly-owned bulk water provider prioritising water quality alongside environmental conservation.

Member for Nicklin Robert Skelton said the project would be of great benefit.

“It’s so important we protect the natural environment and this tree-planting project is a fantastic win-win for both the environment and protecting our water sources,” he said.

“We have so many koalas and black cockatoos in our local community. I’m pleased to see Seqwater, in partnership with the Lake Baroon Catchment Care Group, creating more vegetation for these and other species.”

Seqwater executive general manager operations Fiore Zulli said groups had worked together to make it possible.

“Water treatment starts at our catchments and our partnership with the Lake Baroon Catchment Care Group has gone from strength-to-strength thanks to the ongoing support of the group, local landholders, the community, and the passionate contractors involved with planting and other source protection projects,” he said.

“Like most of South-East Queensland’s drinking water catchments, this catchment includes farmland, rural properties, townships, and other land Seqwater does not own or manage, which is why we work in partnership with others to protect water quality.”

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Lake Baroon Catchment Care Group president Peter Stevens said the planting helped bring stability to the area.

“Seqwater and the Lake Baroon Catchment Care Group have been working together for over 20 years and share a commitment to sustainable catchment management, with many of our projects already delivering catchment and water quality benefits,” he said.

Representatives from levels of government, Seqwater and the Lake Baroon Catchment Care Group.

“For the Bunya Block, we’ve been nurturing trees planted just over two years ago and have seen this native tree corridor grow significantly in this time, assisting in the stabilization of multiple unstable hillslopes.”

Over the past decade, Seqwater and the Lake Baroon Catchment Care Group, together with the support of local farmers, have delivered 49km of fencing to minimise stock access to waterways and riparian zones, together with offstream storage points for stock; 236 hectares of weed control work; 158,000 trees planted; and 48 hectares of landslide management.

In recognition of the shared commitment to sustainable catchment management, Seqwater entered a 10-year agreement with Baroon Catchment Care Group in 2021 allowing for long-term planning and delivery of on-ground projects to protect water quality

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