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Management pathways for the floodplain wetlands of the southern Murray–Darling Basin: Lessons from history

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posted on 02.09.2019 by Peter A. Gell, Michael A. Reid, Robert Wilby
The condition of floodplain wetlands of the Murray–Darling Basin (MDB) reflects the combined effects of climate variability, river regulation, vegetation clearance, and the impacts of human settlement and industry. Today, these systems are degraded, in large part due to changes in the hydroecology of waterways arising from water diversion and abstraction to sustain irrigated agriculture. The MDB Plan directs substantial investment towards the restoration of ecosystems largely via the buy-back of water allocations, under a cap-and-trade system, for use as environmental flows. This region is projected to receive less winter rainfall and run-off, which could exacerbate the impact of water diversions. Long-term climate records suggest a higher level of resilience to drying than may be inferred from modern studies. Further, palaeoecological records of change reveal that many wetlands that are perennial today were once naturally seasonal or intermittent, and that much wetland degradation predates regulation and can be attributed to declines in water quality, rather than quantity. A mix of approaches to rehabilitate this long-degraded system, planned and implemented over an extended period, may meet the demands of the Water Act of 2007, but also support the regional economy. An adaptive management approach offers a framework within which to map system vulnerabilities, characterize climate pressures, identify adaptation options, and monitor outcomes along a pathway to a sustainable future. Early lessons show the extent to which such a deliberative framework can assist water reform under changing socio-economic priorities and external hydroclimatic pressures.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Geography and Environment

Published in

River Research and Applications

Volume

35

Issue

8

Pages

1291 - 1301

Publisher

Wiley

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Publisher statement

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: GELL, P.A., REID, M.A. and WILBY, R.L., 2019. Management pathways for the floodplain wetlands of the southern Murray–Darling Basin: Lessons from history. River Research and Applications, 35 (8), pp.1291-1301, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1002/rra.3515. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

Acceptance date

18/07/2019

Publication date

2019-08-20

Copyright date

2019

ISSN

1535-1459

eISSN

1535-1467

Language

en

Depositor

Prof Robert Leonard Wilby

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