Monitoring and assessment are integral components in adaptive management programmes that strive to improve the condition of river systems. Unfortunately, these procedures are generally applied with an emphasis upon biotic attributes and water quality, with limited regard for the geomorphic structure, function and evolutionary trajectory of a river system. Geomorphic principles convey an understanding of the landscape context within which ecohydrologic processes interact. Collectively, geo-eco-hydrologic understanding presents a coherent biophysical template that can be used to frame spatially and temporally rigorous approaches to monitoring that respect the inherent diversity, variability and complexity of any given river system. This understanding aids the development of management programmes that 'work with nature.' Unless an integrative perspective is used to monitor river condition, conservation and rehabilitation plans are unlikely to reach their true potential.