research paper in Earth and Environment Communications Shows progress in Australia towards United Nations targets, making rivers better able to recover from floods, droughts and other impacts.
In July 2022, the 120-kilometre Wollombi Brook, which flows north into the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, suffered its largest flooding on record. And it has held remarkably well, says Professor Kirsty Frears of Macquarie University’s School of Natural Sciences. “Yes, there was widespread inundation, but the flood waters were slower and the vegetation prevented widespread erosion and sediment movement.
“All the hard work of a very active community in nature-based rehabilitation for more than 20 years, such as continuous riverside revegetation, has played a part in this outcome.” It’s one of Australia’s best examples of sustainable ecological restoration in river management, she says.
It represents the kind of transformation that Professor Friers and research colleague Dr Catherine Russell of the University of Melbourne believe the multi-billion dollar river management industry around the world must work for.
“It is important, as part of the global effort to achieve river sustainability and resilience to drought, fire and flood,” says Dr. Russell. More specifically, the researchers say, Wollombi Brook outlines the kind of changes we need to make to meet the river health goals set out by the United Nations in its Decade for Ecosystem Restoration to 2030.
Adopting UN environmental goals as principles in river management will be essential to maintaining and improving river health, making effective use of diverse traditional knowledge, integrating grassroots into global action, improving the strength and cost-efficiency of restoration efforts, and securing river resilience. to climate change and natural disasters.
Accelerate and upgrade
Dr. Russell is the lead author and Professor Frears is the second author of a research paper recently published in Earth and Environment Communications. Nine additional authors from diverse backgrounds also contributed. The paper does not look at river management directly, but rather how the industry behind it has changed in Australia to achieve those goals. The verdict is that progress has been solid but sporadic.
“We’re doing a lot of good things at a local level,” says Professor Frears, citing several examples in eastern NSW. Dr Russell presented urban examples of Norman Creek in Hanlon Park/Boroda across the river from the University of Queensland in Brisbane and the Sunbury Integrated Water Management Plan, which will protect streams and protect water supplies in western Melbourne.
“But this work needs to be scaled up and better resourced – from short sections of river to passages to watersheds – if we are going to get any closer to achieving some of the UN’s global targets,” says Professor Frears. “Australia seems to have reached a focal point with fires, floods and droughts. If we don’t get it right at this time, we may have missed that moment.”
analysis and recommendations
The authors analyzed the proliferation of research papers delivered to the long-running 25-year Australian Flow Management (ASM) conference between 1996 and 2021. From their analysis they extracted information on how the structure and methods of the river management industry in Australia have changed. time, and what were the successes and failures.
They found that the river management industry had matured over those 25 years, with greater diversity and collaboration among its various components. However, there has been little measurable expansion of community involvement and use of adaptive management or ‘learning by doing’ and ‘learning from mistakes’.
Unlike parts of the world where expensive engineering solutions — large dams, canals and pipelines — still predominate, such as China, India and South America, the researchers say what they found in Australia is typical of most of the developed world. such as Europe and North America. “The directions are quite the same,” says Dr. Russell. “Although our analysis is local, our recommendations are global.”
On the basis of their analysis, the authors make five recommendations to support sustainable development – that practitioners from different areas of management should work together and with communities (including First Nations communities) holistically; that solutions based on nature, not engineering ones, should be implemented; that greater resources should be devoted to the adaptive management of rivers; That knowledge and understanding must be maintained by organizations; and that practitioners should have more influence in shaping government policy.
Kathryn Russell et al., The evolution of Australia’s river management industry reveals a tortuous path to achieving the UN 2030 targets, Earth and Environment Communications (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s43247-023-00748-y
the quote: Nature-Based Management Enhances River Resilience, Study Shows (2023, April 12) Retrieved April 12, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-nature-based-river-resilience.html
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