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Taking environmental water requirements and climate change into account in the designation and management of protected areas for floodplain ecosystems

Peake, P., Fitzsimons, J., Mitchell, M., Withers, N. and Phillips, J. 2008, Taking environmental water requirements and climate change into account in the designation and management of protected areas for floodplain ecosystems, in APAC 2008 : Protected Areas in the Century of Change : Proceedings of the Australian Protected Areas Congress, EPA Qld, Brisbane, Qld., pp. 220-220.

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Title Taking environmental water requirements and climate change into account in the designation and management of protected areas for floodplain ecosystems
Author(s) Peake, P.
Fitzsimons, J.
Mitchell, M.
Withers, N.
Phillips, J.
Conference name Australian Protected Areas Congress (2008 : Twin Waters, Qld.)
Conference location Twin Waters, Qld.
Conference dates 24-28 Nov. 2008
Title of proceedings APAC 2008 : Protected Areas in the Century of Change : Proceedings of the Australian Protected Areas Congress
Editor(s) Garven, Ian
Monk, Simon
Publication date 2008
Start page 220
End page 220
Publisher EPA Qld
Place of publication Brisbane, Qld.
Summary In 2005, the Victorian government asked the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) to 1) identify and evaluate the extent, condition, values, management, resources and uses of riverine red gum forests and associated fauna, wetlands, floodplain ecosystems and vegetation communities in northern Victoria; and 2) make recommendations relating to the conservation, protection and ecological sustainable use of public land. The design of a comprehensive, adequate and representative (CAR) reserve system was a key part of the recommendations made by VEAC. In order to assist in the decision-making for environmental water allocation for protected areas and other public land, a process for identifying flood-dependent natural values on the Victorian floodplains of the River Murray and its tributaries was developed.

Although some areas such as the Barmah forest are very well known, there have been few comprehensive inventories of important natural values along the Murray floodplains. For this project, VEAC sought out and compiled data on flood requirements (natural flood frequency, critical interval between floods, minimum duration of floods) for all flood-dependent ecological vegetation classes (EVCs) and threatened species along the Goulburn, Ovens, King and Murray Rivers in Victoria. The project did not include the Kerang Lakes and floodplains of the Avoca, Loddon and Campaspe Rivers. 186 threatened species and 110 EVCs (covering 224,247 ha) were identified as flood-dependent and therefore at risk from insufficient flooding.

Past environmental water allocations have targeted a variety of different natural assets (e.g. stressed red gum trees, colonial nesting waterbirds, various fish species), but consideration of the water requirements of the full suite of floodplain ecosystems and significant species has been limited. By considering the water requirements of the full range of natural assets, the effectiveness of water delivery for biodiversity can be maximised. This approach highlights the species and ecosystems most in need of water and builds on the icon sites approach to view the Murray floodplains as an interconnected system. This project also identified for the first time the flood-frequency and duration requirements for the full suite of floodplain ecosystems and significant species.

This project is the most comprehensive identification of water requirements for natural values on the floodplain to date, and is able to be used immediately to guide prioritisation of environmental watering. As more information on floodplain EVCs and species becomes available, the water requirements and distribution of values can be refined by ecologists and land and water managers. That is, the project is intended as the start of an adaptive process allowing for the incorporation of monitoring and feedback over time. The project makes it possible to transparently and easily communicate the extent to which manipulated or natural flows benefit various natural values. Quantitative and visual outputs such as maps will enable environmental managers and the public to easily see which values do and do not receive water (see http://www.veac.vic.gov.au/riverredgumfinal.htm for further details).
ISBN 9780646507330
Language eng
Field of Research 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Socio Economic Objective 961302 Protected Conservation Areas in Fresh
HERDC Research category E3 Extract of paper
Copyright notice ©2008, Australian Protected Areas Congress
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30019260

Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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