RACQ Foundation volunteers join flood recovery project


RACQ is putting down roots for resilience, protecting riverbanks in Gympie from future flood events.

RACQ Foundation volunteers at Gympie.

RACQ Foundation volunteers have helped revegetate The Sands along the Mary River in Gympie to improve flood resilience and protect the riverbank from future flood events.

A total of 3,000 specially selected native trees and shrubs were planted on the riverbank, which will protect against future erosion and rebuild the area as a recreational hub for the community.

The project in May was completed in collaboration with Minderoo Foundation's Australian Resilience Corps and supported by the Gympie Regional Council and the Gympie & District Landcare Group.

Environment and Conservation Manager for the Gympie & District Landcare Group, Marty McArthur, said the project would help protect the region against future severe weather events.

“Planting native vegetation will help build resilience against future floods by reducing the loss of soil and resulting erosion affecting the river system,” Mr McArthur said.

The plants used included a mix of riparian species that are adapted to the nature of floodways, like The Sands.

The Sands was the site of an RACQ Foundation trip in 2023.

“This area is vegetated with Chinese elm, which can become scoured out during weather events as there is only one type of root system that is surface orientated,” Mr McArthur said.

“We selected native woody plants, such as lomandra, to create a diverse root structure so that instead of losing the topsoil and sand, we can gain organic matter and allow the succession of the bush.”

The revegetation of the area not only builds flood resilience but also affects the whole river system through the Mary River catchment.

By reducing sediment and improving water quality, the impacts of the project will extend all the way out to the Great Sandy Strait and the southern reaches of the Great Barrier Reef.

Senior Environmental Impact Specialist at RACQ Natalie Haanwinckel Hurtado was in Gympie as an RACQ Foundation volunteer.

“It's very important to have the community involved and be actively working with locals, as they know best what is impacting their region and can tell us their priorities,” Ms Haanwinckel Hurtado said.

“For Gympie, we heard they want to be more protected and less vulnerable to flooding, because it was just devastating when it happened.”

RACQ Foundation volunteer Will Soutar at Gympie.

The Gympie region was heavily affected by severe weather in February 2022, with flood waters reaching up to 23m.

RACQ has a long history of helping communities recover from disasters and is now shifting to building resilience in the State’s most at-risk regions to help them be more prepared for future severe weather events.

“We want to give our communities more capacity to respond to natural disasters that may happen in the future,” Ms Haanwinckel Hurtado said.

“Building resilience is about reducing vulnerabilities and investing in our communities for the longer term.”

Read more about the RACQ Foundation volunteer activity to support the flood-affected Gympie region here.

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