Understanding the effectiveness of riparian management interventions

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Murray Local Land Services (Murray LLS) has a long history of managing waterways and riparian zones to ensure these ecosystems remain healthy and productive for future generations.  Regular monitoring is used  to determine the effectiveness of management actions, however, often responses vary over time and at different locations.

In response to this variability, Murray LLS has developed the Riparian and Aquatic Health Monitoring Project to gain a better understanding of how; ecosystems respond to management interventions, why some creeks and rivers respond differently to others, and, why management outcomes can change over time.

The project, funded by Catchment Action NSW and Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme, will inform Murray LLS for future management actions.

Specifically, the project aims to:

  • determine how Murray LLS riparian management actions effect riparian and instream vegetation
  • understand the impact of Murray LLS riparian management actions on river ecosystem functioning, e.g. the movement, storage and breakdown of wood and leaf litter, channel erosion and bank stabilisation.
  • identify factors that change the outcomes of Murray LLS riparian interventions, such as hydrology, climate, landuse and geomorphology.
  • ensure the monitoring and evaluation is being done in a way that best supports Murray LLS and landholder adaptive management of riparian zones.

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A Riparian and Aquatic Health Monitoring Plan and Pilot has already been undertaken by the Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) of Environmental Research. The work has been undertaken in the South West Slopes Bioregion (area surrounding Holbrook) – an area where there has been significant investment by Murray LLS in the fencing and restoration of riparian zones.

Monitoring the impacts of riparian zone management

Monitoring the impacts of riparian zone management

Through a new contract (established June 2015) ARI will implement and develop the monitoring plan which includes the expansion of monitoring sites from 12 to 24. Three different groups of sites with contrasting histories of riparian management (Travelling Stock Reserves, degraded sites and revegetation sites) are to be monitored.

Simplified outcomes hierarchy for riparian zones adapted from the Murray LLS MERI framework (Brooks et al, 2011).  This monitoring program is a foundation activity that will collect evidence for the achievement of outcomes and the factors that modify them, and influence subsequent riparian management.

Simplified outcomes hierarchy for riparian zones adapted from the Murray LLS MERI framework (Brooks et al, 2011). This monitoring program is a foundation activity that will collect evidence for the achievement of outcomes and the factors that modify them, and influence subsequent riparian management.

The following is a list of indicators which will be monitored. They have been selected on the basis that they are likely to show a response to management interventions, and on their influence on aquatic ecosystem processes and services (e.g. carbon storage);

  • Shrub and tree cover and density
  • Canopy cover
  • Riparian zone width and continuity (how fragmented the riparian zone is along a reach)
  • Aquatic vegetation
  • Presence of bare ground, fine woody debris and coarse wood
  • Debris dams
  • Channel shape, structure and evidence of erosion or avulsion
  • Bank profile and slope

The project has so far completed an initial Monitoring plan and pilot, detailed in Monitoring Outcomes from Murray LLS Riparian Interventions: Plan and Year 1 Pilot Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research (2015). Based on the pilot and plan, a more formalised monitoring plan will be developed and implemented. Results of the monitoring project will be workshopped with staff and relevant stakeholders, and information gained will be used to guide future riparian policy, incentive delivery and management.

Project collaborators include: Melbourne University, Holbrook Landcare and Riverina LLS. Collaboration with the Australian Research Council (ARC) is being investigated.

Partners / Stakeholders: to be determined

For more information, please contact:

Emmo Willinck
Senior Strategic Land Service Officer
Phone (02) 6051 2220
emmo.willinck@lls.nsw.gov.au

Sources and further information:

Murray LLS website

Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme

Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research

Holbrook Landcare

Riverina Local Land Services

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Our address

Address:
South West Slopes Bioregion
GPS:
-35.7268382, 147.31163600000002

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