Refreshing River Management to improve river health

The Environmental Trust has awarded Murray Local Land Services a one-off River Connections grant of $8,999,200 for its project ‘Refreshing River Management: New partnership and stewardship pathways for improving river health’.

River Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), Murrumbidgee RiverRivers are the lifeblood of inland NSW – they have enormous ecological, cultural and economic significance. River health is directly linked with the wellbeing of our regional communities and their ability to thrive; rivers are vital to agriculture and threatened plant and animal species.

The importance of inland river health impelled the Trust to create the River Connections program, seeking submissions to improve river management practices in rivers in western NSW.

The successful project, Refreshing River Management, was announced in January 2021 and will deliver a portfolio of initiatives over 10 years to achieve enduring social and ecological change around river management.

Murray Local Land Services heads a consortium of 15 partners from government, industry, research and community organisations who will collaborate to improve river health in three pilot areas in the Murray and Riverina Local Land Services regions. The Lower Billabong and South West Slopes pilots are in Murray Local Land Services region, while Riverina Highlands is in Riverina Local Land Services.

River management practices trialled in these areas could be rolled out in similar river ecosystems across the State, driven by industry, farmer and community action.

The Environmental Trust's funding of nearly $9 million will be matched by partner contributions (cash and in-kind) of at least $12.7 million.

River Connections map

Outcomes of River Connections

Collaboration is key to this 10-year project, which aims to deliver:

  • integrated, landscape-scale river management plans
  • outcomes supported by market-based stewardship and sustainability schemes
  • case studies of cutting-edge innovations in land-management technology
  • social marketing campaigns to help nudge community, industry and grower behaviours related to river-friendly farming
  • a maximised uptake of best land-management practice.

On-ground works will address direct impacts to river health. These could include:

  • fencing
  • installation of watering points
  • livestock management
  • revegetation of riverbanks
  • channel rehabilitation
  • barrier removal
  • pest exclusion.

Project-management staff will deliver efficiencies of scale and scheduling, ensuring that works are delivered on time and within budget and that quality standards are maintained.

River Connections aims to support more than 1600 farmers and communities managing land in river ecosystems in the Murray and Riverina areas. It will also support building connections between Aboriginal works crew members and Country across the three pilot areas.

River Connections' 'Refreshing River Management' partners

  • Murray Local Land Services (project lead)
  • Riverina Local Land Services
  • Holbrook Landcare Network
  • Yanco Creek and Tributaries Advisory Council Inc.
  • Riverina Highlands Landcare Network
  • Griffith University
  • Meat & Livestock Australia
  • Australian Holistic Management Cooperative
  • Brungle-Tumut Local Aboriginal Land Council
  • Cummeragunja Local Aboriginal Land Council
  • Murray Darling Basin Authority
  • Australian Holistic Management Cooperative
  • Soil Conservation Service
  • Biodiversity Conservation Trust
  • Rural Assistance Authority/Rural Financial Counselling Service