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Reading Group: Progress, problems and prospects in Australian river repair

06/03/2014 @ 7:30 am - 8:30 am

Summary of Event:

Autism and Abattoirs; the Apgar test and the Brain journal: Progress, problems and prospects in Australian river repair

The March reading group met for a broad ranging discussion on the state of our industry. The discussion was informed by an analysis of the makeup of six Australian Stream Management Conferences reported in a 2013 journal article by Kirstie Fryirs, Bruce Chessman and Ian Rutherfurd. This important paper tied in nicely with the 7th Australian Stream Management Conference and our call for the use of ‘best available science’ as a core consideration in the RBMS submission on the Victorian Water Bill Exposure Draft.
Important points in this paper were that:
1. Our industry has matured (from single discipline approaches to “cross-disciplinary” river management), but there is scope for so-called “trans-disciplinary’ management.
2. There has been a ‘contractualisation’ of the workforce (with more science and management undertaken through subcontracting and by consultants) – producing a body of work that lies mostly in the grey literature and is poorly disseminated
3. There have been few good examples of monitoring and evaluation presented at Australian Stream Management conferences; and even less providing evidence of adaptive management.

Reading material:

Fryirs K, Chessman B, Rutherfurd ID. Progress, problems and prospects in Australian river repair. Marine and Freshwater Research. CSIRO Publications. 2013, Vol. 64, Issue 7, pp. 642 – 654.

Effective river restoration requires an integrative approach among researchers, managers and stakeholders, grounded in sound science. Using Australia as a case study, we examined contemporary responses to the following three global challenges for river management: first, to base management practice on ‘best available science’ (BAS); second, to integrate diverse, discipline-bound knowledge within cross-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary approaches; and third, to achieve adaptive management based on monitoring and evaluation. Analysis of 562 papers from the six Australian national stream-management conferences held since 1996 provided insight into the rapidly growing area of management, and the degree to which these three challenges are being met. The review showed that discipline-bound abiotic or biotic science was the focus of 46% of papers. Cross-disciplinary science, defined as the integration of biophysical sciences, was presented in 36% of papers, and trans-disciplinary science, defined as the merging of biophysical science with social and economic perspectives, in 17%. Monitoring and evaluation results were presented in only 12% of papers, whereas applications of adaptive management were reported in a mere 2%. Although river management has been transformed in recent decades, much remains to be done to create a holistic foundation for river restoration that links biophysical science to social science and economics.

How to access the journal article:

The article can be accessed through the Marine and Freshwater Research journal here.

RBMS Committee



7:30 am - 8:30 am
Event Category:


Manchester Press
8 Rankins Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000 Australia
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