The effective, adaptive management of New Zealand's river systems requires the holistic assessment of river condition in order to detect responses to human impacts and management practices. Geomorphology forms an essential component of holistic condition assessments, as it provides a physical template for integrating ecosystem structure, function and change. This study appraises the use of geomorphic principles within the river condition assessment protocols of the 12 regional councils and five unitary authorities of New Zealand. At present, regional State of Environment reporting focuses on monitoring changes in water quality and biological indicators, with some assessment of physical habitat. Regional condition protocols within this framework seldom incorporate assessments of process-form associations, inter-scale controls or temporal variability, which are needed to identify the causes of and controls on long-term changes in condition. This study demonstrates that there is significant potential to improve the incorporation of geomorphic analysis within New Zealand protocols and practice for assessment of river condition. Recommendations are made for the incorporation of geomorphic principles into holistic, emergent condition assessments.
|Number of pages
|Journal of Hydrology New Zealand
|Published - 2011