Environmental flows aim to influence river hydrology to provide appropriate physical conditions for ecological functioning within the restrictions of flow regulation. The hydrologic characteristics of flow events, however, may also lead to unintended morphologic effects in rivers, such as increases in riverbank erosion beyond natural rates. This may negatively impact habitat for biota, riparian infrastructure, and land use. Strategic environmental flow delivery linked to monitoring and adaptive management can help mitigate risks. We monitor riverbank condition (erosion and deposition) relative to environmental flows on the Goulburn River, Victoria, Australia. We describe the process of adaptive management aimed at reducing potential impacts of flow management on bank condition. Field measurements (erosion pins) quantify the hydrogeomorphic response of banks to the delivery of planned and natural flow events. Managed flows provide opportunities for monitoring riverbank response to flows, which in turn informs planning. The results demonstrate that environmental flows have little influence on bank erosion and visual perceptions in the absence of monitoring are an unreliable guide. This monitoring project represents a mutually beneficial, science-practice partnership demonstrating that a traditional ‘know then do’ approach can be foreshortened by close collaboration between researchers and managers. To do so requires transparent, often informal lines of communication. The benefits for researchers–a more strategic and targeted approach to monitoring activities; and benefits for the practitioners–reduced time between actions and understanding response; mean that a learn by doing approach is likely to have better outcomes for researchers, stakeholders, the public, and the environment.
Environmental Management – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 6, 2017
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