Rivers, streams, waterways and wetlands are important components of urban landscapes. These freshwater habitats are valuable to people because they help create a safe environment by mitigating flooding and keeping our water clean. Unfortunately, streams face many threats including altered hydrology, elevated levels of nutrients and other pollutants, increased water temperature and sedimentation, and reduced biodiversity.
For management efforts to be targeted and effective, managers need to understand the key ecological drivers in the region and how they vary among other freshwater habitats (such as wetlands and streams). They also need to understand how the key drivers vary with local characteristics such as position in the catchment and soil type.
This project investigates the extent to which ecological drivers vary among freshwater habitats and across a range of geographic scales in southern Australia. It also explores the sensitivity of these drivers and the extent to which improvements in different drivers deliver improvements in ecosystem function.
The project will deliver conceptual urban waterway typologies or categories which identify the key ecological drivers of ecosystem health and function. It will also develop region- specific urban waterway management frameworks that will support decisions for optimising management and restoration efforts over a range of scales. The outcomes of this project will be used by water planners in state and local governments to guide their policy and planning, and by developers, consultants and local natural resource management bodies to inform on- ground management and restoration of urban waterways.
Researchers have reviewed existing literature and interrogated existing datasets to investigate the extent to which landscape and local ecological drivers vary among freshwater habitats across Perth and Melbourne. A recent journal article presented the results of their research into developing a decision-support tool to predict the likelihood and direction of baseflow change based on the natural vulnerability of the landscape and aspects of urban development.
A key output of the project will be a typology-specific urban waterway management framework that will support decisions for optimising management and restoration effort over a range of scales. This will provide state and local planning and management agencies with the information they require to improve the health of their urban freshwaters, and assist in the transition to a water sensitive city.