Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Progress, problems and prospects in Australian river repair

Kirstie Fryirs A D , Bruce Chessman B and Ian Rutherfurd C

A Department of Environment and Geography, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia.

B New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, Parramatta, NSW 2150, Australia.

C Department of Resource Management and Geography, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, The University of Melbourne, Vic. 3001, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: kirstie.fryirs@mq.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 64(7) 642-654 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF12355
Submitted: 17 December 2012  Accepted: 13 April 2013   Published: 31 May 2013

Abstract

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.

Additional keywords: adaptive management, cross-disciplinary, monitoring and evaluation, river management, river restoration, trans-disciplinary.


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