Enhancing whole-of-river conservation

Pearson, Richard G., Davis, Aaron M., and Birtles, R. Alastair (2022) Enhancing whole-of-river conservation. Marine and Freshwater Research, 73 (6). pp. 729-741.

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Abstract

We argue for improved conservation of freshwater ecosystems at catchment or eco-regional scales by explicit assignment of values to all river sections and wetlands, recognising current disturbance, and aiming for ‘no further harm’ to the commons. The need is indicated by the global deterioration of biodiversity and ecosystem services of rivers and wetlands, increasing demands on water and land resources, and climate change. Regional pressures include multiple jurisdictions, competing demands, piecemeal management, pollution and habitat impacts. Effective resource and conservation management needs to integrate multiple uses via governance of activities of stakeholders, recognising hydrogeomorphic, water quality and ecological properties of ecosystems. Complete ecological protection is impractical amidst water-resource and land-use development, but we suggest that all river reaches and wetlands be given a conservation rating based on habitat, biodiversity and connectivity values. We present a straightforward approach to spatial conservation rating of freshwaters, using hydrogeomorphic typology and assignment of conservation values on the basis of available information and expert elicitation. We illustrate the approach by using the large Burdekin River catchment in north-eastern Australia. This approach is complementary to more spatially focused conservation prioritisation and could greatly improve management for sustainability, reduce further decline in conservation values, and facilitate rehabilitation.

Item ID: 76255
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-6059
Keywords: Burdekin River, catchment scale, development, prioritisation, stream, tropic, typology, water resources, wetland
Copyright Information: © 2022 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND)
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2022 02:26
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310304 Freshwater ecology @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 25%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 25%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1803 Fresh, ground and surface water systems and management > 180301 Assessment and management of freshwater ecosystems @ 40%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1803 Fresh, ground and surface water systems and management > 180303 Fresh, ground and surface water biodiversity @ 40%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180201 Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems @ 20%
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