River Management: The Australasian Experience

River Management: The Australasian Experience

River Management: The Australasian Experience

River Management: The Australasian Experience


Only in Australasia can the effect of technological societies on river systems be truly analysed and this unique, accessible book covers key issues in river management from a geomorphological perspective.

Australia and New Zealand were colonised only 200 years ago by central bureaucratic administrations. For the whole period of European settlement most river management activities have been carried out by government agencies and the record of their activities is relatively complete. These countries therefore provide good case studies for the impact of technological societies on river systems, having transformed their rivers in a short time from their 'natural' into a heavily managed condition.

Geomorphology provides the scientific basis for much of our understanding of river behaviour and geomorphologists are now actively involved in the management process. This book provides a collection of case studies, the first to be produced to date, which describe the management of rivers covering issues of environmental flow, stream condition, mining and extractive activities, river channel change, river stabilisation, river regulation and urban streams.

The book will prove invaluable to geomorphologists, river engineers, stream ecologists, river managers, and environmental impact assessors involved in river management and restoration.


Brian Finlayson

Centre for Environmental Applied Hydrology, the University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia


Sandra Brizga

S. Brizga & Associates Pty Ltd, Clifton Hill, Victoria, Australia

Why a special volume on river management [down under]? Australia is a special case in many respects: an ancient continental mass (a fragment of Gondwana); generally low continental elevation; a predominance of climatic aridity; unusually high hydrological variability; colonised recently by a highly technical and bureaucratic culture in which there was an early recognition of the importance of rivers in the physical landscape. Some of these special characteristics are common to other regions, but nowhere is there a continental-scale region in which they exist in the same combination. Despite its close proximity to Australia, New Zealand does not share Australia's physical attributes but it does have some close parallels in its cultural and political history in the 200 years of European colonisation.

This book arose from a special session held at the International Association of Geomorphologists' Regional Conference in Singapore, June 1995, and therefore the majority of the chapters have a geomorphological bias. Holistic river management has a range of other dimensions – including biological, ecological, engineering, social, financial, legal and institutional – so this volume represents only one of the many sets of Australasian perspectives which could be presented on this issue. the bias towards physical processes does, however, accurately reflect the preoccupation that river management in this region has had with physical channel processes in the early to mid-twentieth century.

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