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We’re all in this together:
Have your say about evaluating vegetation outcomes to environmental flows

By Cherie Campbell

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan aims to achieve a healthy working Basin for the benefit of all Australians. This aim is partially achieved through the delivery of environmental water to improve the condition of riverine, wetland and floodplain ecosystems. An important part of environmental water management is evaluating the outcomes of environmental flows – or ‘learning by doing’. This helps to improve the outcomes, while ensuring the efficient use of environmental water.

There are many steps involved in the management of environmental water – from collaborative input into setting objectives, targets and prioritising actions, planning based on research and expert opinion, water delivery, monitoring and evaluation, and the reporting of outcomes to communities and stakeholders to inform future watering actions and policy. This process involves input from a wide range of people from broad sectors of the community, including government, university / research sectors, traditional owners, other community and stakeholder groups, not-for-profit and private consultancy sectors.

Effective environmental water management, therefore, requires us to consider many things –  human values,  the scientific and traditional knowledge of the water requirements of plants, animals and functions (such as maintaining water quality), an understanding of water delivery pathways and constraints, interpretation of observed outcomes, data management and reporting processes, and how best to connect with and communicate to stakeholders.

My PhD project is focusing in on an important component of any ecosystem – vegetation.  I am aiming to characterise good condition for non-woody wetland and floodplain vegetation (NWV) across the Murray-Darling Basin so that I can develop condition benchmarks to provide the basis for evaluating outcomes. Key questions I want to asnwer are: For NWV what does environmental watering success look like? What are we trying to achieve and why is this important?

Part of the processofo characterising good condition for NWV is to reflect on what we have learnt to date. What are the challenges and limitations to evaluating outcomes to environmental flows for NWV? Where are the opportunities to improve our learning by doing?   I have developed this online survey so that I can learn from those already working in vegetation management – and it is important I hear from a broad  range of stakeholders.  I am hoping that the outcomes from the survey will improve our understanding of the challenges and needs associated with evaluating outcomes for NWV to environmental flows. As this study is part of the large, collaborative Flow-MER project, the outcomes will be reported to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO) and directly influence future evaluation projects and environmental water management.

So…

Are you involved in the assessment, management or protection of riparian, wetland or floodplain vegetation?
Do you manage habitats in these systems for animals or other functions?
Are you involved in the delivery of environmental flows?

We would love to hear your opinion. Tell us about the challenges and opportunities here: COMPLETE THE SURVEY 

The survey will only take you around 20 mins to complete and it will be available until the 31st of January 2021 and all answers you provide will be anonymous. Keep an eye out for a summary of the survey outcomes on the Flow-MER website.

Thank you 😊

Cherie Campbell

Cherie Campbell is a vegetation ecologist interested in the maintenance and recovery of wetland and floodplain vegetation in river-floodplain ecosystems. Cherie leads a research project that will develop a framework of condition benchmarks and a process for evaluating outcomes for non-woody wetland and floodplain vegetation at a Basin-scale.

If you would like any further details please contact Cherie Campbell, Centre for Applied Water Science, University of Canberra, cherie.campbell@canberra.edu.au.

Our work in the Vegetation Basin Theme

For additional information about the evaluation of vegetation outcomes to environmental flows or my PhD please click the button below or contact Cherie Campbell, Centre for Applied Water Science, University of Canberra, cherie.campbell@canberra.edu.au.

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