Unwanted tree stumps recycled to restore river health

Leftover tree stumps from highway expansion projects are being used to help protect more than three kilometres of the Bellinger, Nambucca, Macleay and Hastings estuaries in an innovative recycling initiative.

Combination rock and tree fillet, lower Macleay River

Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Senior Coast and Estuary Officer, John Schmidt, said the exciting project expands available habitat by using the unwanted tree stumps, timber and rocks to create vital bank protection structures.

“Bank protection structures are usually made entirely of rock, so this timber will deliver nearly 100 tonnes of additional carbon into the estuary food chain, as well as providing a habitat niche for an extra one hectare of mangroves and promote fish habitat,” John said.

“OEH and the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI Fisheries) successfully negotiated with Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), the Environment Protection Authority and Pacific Highway contract partners to supply timber materials generated from highway clearing between Oxley Highway and Urunga at no cost.

“With RMS support, highway partners Lend Lease, Pacifico, Thiess and OHL Construction have provided around 600 stumps, 1600 timber pins and 120 tonnes of rock, most of which has been delivered onsite at the river restoration project spanning 3.5 km.

“With assistance from DPI Fisheries and support from local councils, landowners, and Forestry Corporation, timber and other material was also allowed to be temporarily stored on their properties until required.

“This unique project is a good example of how landowner willingness and collaboration between many stakeholders can help bring about coordinated action to improve the health of estuaries on the north coast of New South Wales (NSW),” John said. 

With the help of Nambucca Valley Landcare, funding for river restoration projects has come from a number of sources complementing Pacific Highway partner contributions, including NSW Recreational Fishing Trust’s Habitat Action Grant program, private landowner contributions, Bellingen, Nambucca, Kempsey and Port Macquarie Hastings Councils and the NSW Government Estuary Program.

Photos for media: Highway upgrade waste protects estuaries.

Contact: Vanessa Fuchs