Focussing on Riparian Vegetation in the Landscape
Wednesday 21 August 2013
9am – 1pm
Sir Samuel Griffith Building – Room N78 1.19
Griffith University, Nathan
A Collaborative Initiative between SEQ practitioners, scientists and policy-makers.
Supported by:
Practical River Science Forum
Over the past 12 months a number of preliminary discussions have taken place
between interested river scientists and practitioners in South East
Queensland. Together, they have identified an opportunity to develop a regionally
focussed ‘practical river science forum’ to showcase the depth of river science and
management being undertaken by various stakeholders and to develop relevant
pathways for this to be used to inform good policy and strategic investment across the
In contrast to the range of existing forums, workshops and symposiums centred
around national and international expertise and knowledge, the ‘practical river
science forum’ focusses on local and regional initiatives
The Concept
The concept is based on the premise of celebrating and sharing the experiences of
river management relating to South East Queensland waterways, and focussing on
bringing local science into practical applications. This involves bringing together
representatives of various disciplines, agencies and organisations, including ecological
and social sciences, geology and hydrology, policy, economics, and catchment and
river management.
The broad aim of the ‘practical river science forum’ is to facilitate open and collective
discussion by high level practitioners, scientists and policy decision-makers on how
practical river science can better inform and be guided by good policy and catchment
management decisions.
The Benefits
The future of SEQ waterways, catchments and security of water supply is contingent
on the key stakeholders ‘getting it right’. This relies on effective engagement and
communication between policy makers, practitioners and scientists to not only
identify what is needed and where, but also how and who will fund action.
The ‘practical river science forum’ provides an important opportunity for the key
stakeholders in riparian and catchment management to discuss and identify synergies
in science, policy and practice and to ensure our investment is targeted, collaborative
and effective.
The Proposal
It was proposed that the initial ‘practical river science forum’ will tackle a single high
priority river management issue, rather than attempt to cover a broad range of topics
at once. This is to allow for a higher level of targeted discussion and stakeholder
engagement, with an aim to develop an ‘action statement’ as a key forum outcome.
The ‘action statement’ will highlight future science and management needs for South
East Queensland waterways.
The continuation of the ‘practical river science forum’ as an annual, or more regular
event, will be based on the applicability of the ‘action statement’ and stakeholder
engagement success of this initial forum.
The Collaboration
The success of the ‘practical river science forum’ will be based on the collaborative
support and input from multiple stakeholders recognising government, science, nongovernment organisations , regional bodies and practitioners roles in river
Effective communication and resource sharing are key to ensuring we reach our goal
of healthy and resilient waterways in South East Queensland, and to informing
coordinated investment that is supported by adequate policy and strategic direction.
The Stakeholders
SEQ Council of Mayors
SEQ Local Governments
SEQ Healthy Waterways Partnership
SEQ Catchments Ltd
International Water Centre
International River Foundation
Universities and Research Organisations
Australian River Institute
Utilities and Water Service Providers
Wilston Group
River Improvement Trusts
Forum1: Focussing on Riparian
Vegetation in the Landscape
Topic Overview
Catchment management is a well understood and touted approach to address the
declining health of our waterways, and riparian vegetation is often seen as a priority
action for reversing anthropogenic impacts. Whilst many agree that riparian
revegetation is the way forward, we are often left grappling with the complexities of
scale and use of science and the inconsistencies in policy to get the fundamentals of
who, what, where, how and why right. By identifying and bridging the gap between
science, policy and practice we will be better equipped to direct investment into
targeted on-ground action and be better able to communicate the outcomes to the
wider community.
If we are to draw a positive from the devastating impacts of the recent flood events on
essential infrastructure, life and waterways in South East Queensland, it is the
revitalised discussions on the role of riparian vegetation within the landscape. It is
now more than ever that our timing is critical to ensure our understanding, our policy
and our investments are collaborative and there is a clear understanding of where we
all are seeking to go. Many decisions are being made by various parties and at
different levels. We need a clear, concise and collaborative approach.
The Objectives
To be South East Queensland focussed
To bring the key stakeholders in riparian vegetation and catchment management
practice, science and policy to the one table
To identify and discuss the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders and the
linkages in current and future riparian vegetation visions, activities and
To discuss the scale and complexities of multi-stakeholder interests in regional
catchment and riparian management
To support the development of an agreed SEQ riparian management governance
A Multiple Benefits Context
Economic, Social and Environmental Improvements
- alignment of processes and stakeholders to improve economic and legislative outcomes
Catchment Management
& Rural
Practical River Science Forum
Communication between scientists,
practitioners and policy makers at a
regional scale
Presentation 1.
Prof. Stuart Bunn – Director Australian Rivers Institute
Importance of riparian vegetation
First national conference on the Ecology and Management of Riparian Zones held in
QLD (1993)
Riparian influence on river health
Land use within the active zone has much bigger influence on the ecosystem
Riparian zone has a major influence on channel erosion – source of sediments
and nutrients
50% of 48,000km of streams in SEQ in poor condition
Significant legacy impacts, complicated by poor channel management (eg: stream
straightening, levee construction, riparian vegetation clearing, sand and gravel
extraction) and compounded by altered hydrology.
We now have different priorities from only focussing on the Bay (eg: reduce loss of
farmland, reduce risk to water supply, reduce flood risk AND improve health of our
We know how to do this….
New science – How much vegetation do we put back to change the score in each
Challenge – optimising restoration effort (size and location)
SYSTEMATIC PLANNING APPROACH – participatory, full range of management actions,
incorporate social and economic drivers
Riparian Vegetation is GOOD
Strategic investment in planning and rehabilitation
Tackle issues of stream power and stability (consider change in land use /
management in upper catchment)
Major investment in communication and capacity building
Cease doing what makes the problem worse
Requires private investment / commitment – What are the levers to achieve this?
What is the process. How do we raise the money (eg: levies, water charges)?
Need to change focus from tackling the symptoms and therefore tackling individual
issues. What’s the negotiation to deal with broad-scale approach?
Do we need to make sure strategic plans allow this?
The legislation is there. Is it a technical problem or investment issue?
Need to convince decision-makers this is urgent
Need to convince the public as a whole (politicians influenced by the community – need
to be aware of the risks)
Asset holders need to be aware of risks to assets
Advocacy work is required
How do we draw in the key players?
What are the barriers for key players (eg: don’t know what to do, assume regulatory
barriers, assume local government impediments, don’t know the science)?
Becomes too hard when laid on one entity
Same for land owners – need to demonstrate success
Difficult for an individual to make a difference when only tackling a single issue
Strong reliance on engineering solutions; fall back on hard solutions
Need to talk decision-makers language; need champion government to champion the
Key Actions:
KA1. Identify and understand the levers for private investment.
Presentation 2.
Julie McLellan – CEO Healthy Waterways
Integrating science, policy and action
Regional issues takes a regional approach
Integrating science, policy and action
Work as a collective – more influence on policy
Action: How do we begin to inform those that need to make changes?
Top 10 Tips – How do we influence change? (adapted from John Thwaites)
1. Know what is wanted
6. Be persistent
2. Understand the government
7. Timing
3. Political lifecycle
8. Operate with the best players
4. Collaboration
9. Have new news
5. Be facilitative
10. Prioritise
Talk the right language – previously talked about the Bay. This is not necessarily the
right language for the government of today.
As a partnership we need to step forward with a single message and meet political and
community needs
Switch around the driver, such as get people engaged, social movement to get
environmental outcome.
Does this framework also apply to investment?
Someone has to put their hand up and be in charge under legislation
Need Leadership
Turn ‘what is needed’ to ‘why aren’t they doing it’ – What are the barriers to action?
What is stopping the state from investing?
Structure of government a barrier, matters don’t sit with one distinct section
Story not being told in complete sense. Slack’s Creek example – social and economic
drivers to get environmental outcome
Current processes don’t allow the story to be told
Shift focus of narrative but need Premier to say this will happen – get the business
case of what needs to be done
Need a vehicle to be created (eg: Victoria – but still have similar issues with different
How do we get the ground swell to effect the changes? Some forums have started.
What are the influences from outside of government?
We have been waiting for message and dollars to come BUT need to get projects going
State government have gotten on board through project involvement – because there
is a project to be involved in.
Local government has had to change to get things happening
Key Actions:
KA2. Identify and understand the levers and barriers for government investment.
KA3. Establish clear leadership.
KA4. Develop a ‘new’ narrative to engage the stakeholders.
Presentation 3.
Tony Costantini – Senior Commercial Manager
SEQ Catchments Ltd
Riparian Management – Project delivery and implementation
Riparian management project delivery and implementation
Engagement of land owners is key to everything we do to develop long-term
relationships in the community
Land owner
½ SEQ rivers in very poor condition – generate most of the sediments
The value of trees is not a uniformly held view
Different science around what trees to plant
Changes in river banks over time – removal of riparian vegetation, blue gums now being
lost in high flow events (single standing trees)
Don’t forget the other values of healthy riparian zones
Where to invest? – Healthy Country Program in the upper catchments
Land owners have to be willing to invest
Riparian condition and future sediment loss
current condition indicator of future risk
more vulnerable to future flood damage
2011 – take out poor vegetation
2013 – more vulnerable – greater impact
Step 1. rebuild resilience of degraded systems – no right or wrong place to start
Wherever work is undertaken, make sure to look at the reach and not just the site;
understand the geomorphic processes.
For practical river science, do we have information for river practitioners for dealing with
river restoration?
Where does the dollar come from to support action and knowledge?
Some solutions more simple (eg: fencing), others have high costs.
Use natural resilience rather than engineering solutions
In SEQ some macro channels in Stage 2 & 3 have stabilised. Need to look at stabilising
the features within the system.
Message: it will continue to get worse; do nothing is a serious mistake
Challenge: different stakeholders are on different pages
Science to continue to inform investment governance arrangements
Key Actions:
KA5. Match the on-ground knowledge to landscape research / science.
KA6. Make information and data consistent, relevant and accessible to river
Presentation 4.
Steve Skull – Regional Manager Alluvium
Informed Stream Management Intervention
We’re all seen the problems….
Bank erosion / loss of land/ sediment export
Impacts on infrastructure
Loss of production
Loss of water quality
Need to get away from environmental narrative
Need to know the stage at which your waterway is at to know what the restoration effort
needs to be
We know vegetation works but needs time to grow
Have we got the intervention approach right in SEQ yet? – question of scale
Need a widely agreed approach with appropriate recognition. Current funding models
impact delivery
An Investment Strategy is needed
What is the scale of Investment Strategy? Match to science scale?
Investment Strategy needs to be at a landscape scale, but be flexible to identify projects to
match to opportunities (eg: engaged land owners).
Everyone to align to the Investment Strategy when doing projects
Willingness can be influenced by economic opportunities to do something better
Maybe we don’t have all the right players yet, especially if we need to change the narrative
Issues come up around the timeframes
Long timeframes
Definition of what infrastructure is
Bad at pricing the cost of risk (eg: implications of not doing the action now)
Key Actions:
KA7. Develop a regional–scale Investment Strategy .
Presentation 5.
Donald Mackenzie – Principal Environment Officer
Logan City Council
River Recovery Journey
River Recovery Journey started as an outcome of the Waterways Summit
Multiple drivers / holistic approach led to investment increases
Need to be clever in selling the message against competing issues
Need to learn how to tell the story “What’s the Buzz”
Waterways are valuable and valued
Enable stewardship. Support productivity and lifestyle. Build resilience.
WHY – drivers for river bank improvements (eg: park embellishment, asset protection,
network and connection, safety, habitat enhancement, offset contributions, pollution
abatement, flood mitigation, land use buffer)
HOW – the pragmatism of river bank improvement (eg: comprehensive plan that is
community endorsed, tells a holistic story, political support and funding, align with other
planning and key stakeholder interests)
policy making to contract management
environmental management to community engagement
holistic approach where river bank improvements part of collaborative renewal
interesting, engaging and exciting
What were the resources you had to procure?
Need a reason for doing it – set clear objectives
Look at the entire catchment and not be bound by government boundaries
Talking to the community through the Summit gave the imprimatur
Value change – show value of return on investment as value to local community
Key Actions:
KA8. Continue to support investment in River Recovery initiatives at the catchment
KA9. Tell a ‘story’ that speaks of multiple benefits and encourages community
engagement and connection.
Rural setting has a different perspective to the urban environment but the principals
are the same
Missing multi-disciplinary approach. How do we engage land use planners and
Healthy Waterways is a repository for resources. We do good science and need to
communicate it better especially to the community – all singing from the same song
sheet. Consolidation of existing information, including Case Studies.
Need to get key messages into the community. Not only good for the environment
but for land / agricultural management.
Marketing person to package an appropriate message
We are taking this to another level now, so to achieve these outcomes how do we do
this at the bigger scale? Bigger picture view!
Need to find the link between ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ project scales
Need to retrieve and store information and data at a central location. (eg: Australian
Rivers Guidelines, SEQ Restoration Guideline)
Australian Rivers Institute and Healthy Waterways for storage of information
Availability of State Government data – getting this data can be a barrier
Link to state initiatives to bring this all in (eg: flood work for planning schemes)
Education and community engagement is valuable – not everyone agrees!
Need a network of practitioners – who to talk to.
Next forum suggestion – logistics of sharing information
Key Actions:
KA10. Develop a communication network accessible for all stakeholders.
Action Statement
KA1. Identify and understand the levers and barriers for private investment.
KA2. Identify and understand the levers and barriers for government investment.
KA3. Establish clear leadership.
KA4. Develop a ‘new’ narrative to engage the stakeholders.
KA5. Match the on-ground knowledge to landscape research and science.
KA6. Make information and data consistent, relevant and accessible to river practitioners.
KA7. Develop a regional–scale Investment Strategy .
KA8. Continue to support investment in River Recovery initiatives at the catchment scale.
KA9. Tell a ‘story’ that speaks of multiple benefits and encourages community
engagement and connection.
KA10. Develop a communication network accessible for all stakeholders.
A Way Forward
Two Priority Initiatives were identified as key outcomes of the Forum. These initiatives
will be developed up over the coming months with representatives from the relevant
stakeholders, with an aim to address as many of the key actions as possible. It is
envisaged that the findings of these will be reported back to the group at a future
‘practical river science forum’.
Identify the key stakeholders and their levers and barriers to investment.
Develop a coordinated Investment Framework with clear leadership and
responsibilities identified.
Develop a single message (a ‘new’ narrative).
KA1. KA7.
KA2. KA8.
KA3. KA9.
Identify current catchment scale resources, spatial information and data sets, and
address the barriers for sharing this information. Determine which organisation(s) is
best placed to act as the manager and repository of information.
Develop a Restoration Manual and continue to build capacity within the NRM Sector.
Synthesise and communicate ‘Case Studies’ to showcase existing information and
project outcomes.

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