THE influence of the Pioneer River in this region has never been second guessed.
An iconic feature, the river plays a role of significant importance, supplying water for irrigation to graziers and cane growers, as well as supplying the water demands of a growing city.
To the countless people who take to the river recreationally, it holds value to those who swim, fish, or boat its waters, and for those who take pleasure in observing nature there are many species to be found, including the infamous platypus.
As you wind your way up the Pioneer River from its mouth, the vegetation varies in composition; from mangrove-dominated verges in tidal areas through to the array of riparian rainforests found along most of its remaining banks.
Vegetation along any riverine system or waterway is an important facet in the health of the surrounding ecosystem, providing important corridors for wildlife, both terrestrial and aquatic, to move freely throughout the valley.
Plants are important for stabilising stream banks, reducing sediment runoff, and act as environmental sponges; taking up excess nutrients before they have a chance to enter the waterway.
They are a fundamental component for healthy waterways, particularly in regions of intense agriculture such as Mackay.
Currently the banks of the Pioneer River are in a state of transitional change.
Issues of erosion rise and subside in differing areas depending on seasonal elements.
Unvegetated banks directly above weirs are at risk of wind-generated waves lapping away sandy loam banks and weedy growth in areas that lack proper management have negative implications.
Urban development along the banks also comes with inherent environmental risk.
One group that has decided to take action is the Marian Community Working Group.
Among other community projects currently on their work bench, they have taken to the riverbank along the Prime Minister's Walk with regular working bees to remove weedy growth and revegetate with locally-sourced native trees.
Given the high value they place on recreational enjoyment, the group is also working to retain open areas for families to enjoy leisurely outings, without compromising the strength of the bank.
Overseeing the community group's activities is the Pioneer Catchment & Landcare Group.
This co-operative approach to management ensures ongoing commitment and support, as well as technical advice through on-hand project officers.
So far about 20 cubic meters of leucaena have been removed, and 256 native plants have been planted with immediate aesthetic results.
The future looks bright for the Pioneer River bank at Marian and both groups are currently looking to secure more funding so the project can be expanded.
Anyone wishing to become involved in the project or join in on regular working bees can contact PCL for further information. Phone 4944 1979 or email admin@pioneercatchment. org.au.
Pioneer Catchment and Landcare Group's work along the Pioneer River bank is supported by the Mackay Regional Council through the Natural Environment Levy.