It's a good news story! Tracking geomorphic recovery of rivers in eastern New South Wales as part of process-based river management

Kirstie Fryirs*, Gary J. Brierley, Fergus Hancock, Timothy J. Cohen, Andrew P. Brooks, Ivars Reinfelds, Nick Cook, Allan Raine

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


    Along many alluvial river reaches in south eastern Australia, clearance of forests and riparian vegetation, and removal of wood from channels in the 19th and 20th centuries induced widespread geomorphic impacts. However, since the 1970s there has been a noticeable and significant shift in the geomorphic condition of many rivers. This reflects increases in groundcover and re-establishment of woody vegetation within riparian and inchannel zones associated with a reduction in land-use pressures and improved farming practices on the one hand, and adoption of recovery enhancement approaches to river conservation and rehabilitation by management authorities on the other. Following a brief review of river change in eastern NSW since European settlement, we outline an approach to identify and measure key geomorphic indicators of river recovery for
    different river types. We use case studies to demonstrate examples of geomorphic river recovery and the ‘things to look out for’ when assessing geomorphic river recovery. For example, the formation and stabilisation of benches, pool scour and re-establishment, and the reorganisation of bed materials into well-defined low flow channels are key indicators of geomorphic river recovery for some river reaches. We present how this approach to monitoring and tracking changes in condition can be used to identify when geomorphic recovery is occurring so that decision-support frameworks can determine whether river management is required, where, when and how much to intervene to enhance river recovery and when to opt-out of management because the system requires little (or no) intervention. Broader implications of this ‘good news story’ are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 9th Australian Stream Management Conference, 12–15 August 2018, Hobart, Tasmania
    EditorsGeoff J. Vietz, Ian D. Rutherfurd
    Place of PublicationMelbourne, Victoria
    PublisherRiver Basin Management Society
    Number of pages8
    ISBN (Print)9780734054555
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    EventAustralian Stream Management Conference (9th : 2018) - Hobart, Australia
    Duration: 12 Aug 201815 Aug 2018
    Conference number: 9th


    ConferenceAustralian Stream Management Conference (9th : 2018)
    Internet address


    • anthropogenic disturbance
    • river restoration
    • riparian vegetation
    • river condition
    • river evolution


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