Integrating geomorphological assessments and oral histories in catchment management: implications for the Mulgrave River, Northeastern Australia

Leonard, Sonia, and Nott, Jonathan (2015) Integrating geomorphological assessments and oral histories in catchment management: implications for the Mulgrave River, Northeastern Australia. Geographical Research, 53 (2). pp. 160-174.

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Abstract

The dramatic decline in the integrity of Australian river systems in recent decades has seen the development of landcare and catchment management groups across the continent as the main facilitators of river rehabilitation works. There is growing concern for the need to develop adaptive management frameworks that assist informed decision making through the integration of social and geomorphological knowledge into catchment planning. In the Mulgrave River Catchment of northeastern Queensland, difficult management decisions have to be made with limited access to knowledge of natural processes and baseline geomorphological data. To date management decisions have been based almost exclusively on oral histories that state that point bars are accreting and the river is becoming shallower due to bank erosion. As a result bank stabilisation and removal of sand from within the channel have been recommended in the absence of any geomorphological assessments. This study compares oral histories of river bank erosion in the Mulgrave River with geomorphic evidence to highlight the need for integrated landscape scenario planning. The results of grain size analysis of bank and bed material from 27 locations, involving 47 samples, suggest that bank erosion cannot be delivering sediments to point bars. Furthermore, qualitative analysis of historic parish maps and aerial photographs shows that there has only been moderate bank erosion at three locations along the Mulgrave River since European settlement. The study demonstrates the important role that geomorphological investigations have for catchment management and the need for management frameworks that integrate geomorphological processes and landholder priorities for sustainable river management.

Item ID: 39528
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: integrated catchment management; oral histories; bank erosion; grain size analysis
ISSN: 1745-5871
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2015 02:35
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040607 Surface Processes @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960999 Land and Water Management of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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