What we’ve learned from 10 years of integrating biophysical and social research to improve outcomes of environmental flows in Australia

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Adaptive management of environmental flows has both biophysical and social aspects. In this paper we share some lessons from over a decade of multi-disciplinary research on environmental flows, where we have sought to understand the process of learning and change practice.
Our first project focussed on river operators working within operating rules to achieve multiple outcomes in the Mitta Mitta River (Victoria). We integrated biophysical data with results from interviews with river operators, and contributed to the development of new guidelines for operation of Dartmouth Dam. Our recent research in the Edward-Kolety/Wakool system (NSW) is integrating results from biophysical monitoring and stakeholder surveys to document outcomes and perceptions of flow trials undertaken outside operational norms.
In both of these projects, learning (social, operational, ecological, physical) was occurring, but targeted social research was required to find and document evidence of it. Our multi-disciplinary research has helped broaden understanding of adaptive management and has influenced water management. It has led to social research being integrated into monitoring and evaluation of environmental flows in the Edward/Kolety-Wakool systems. River systems are under increasing pressure in the Anthropocene, and we consider this approach of integrating research is one model for meeting that challenge.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 10th Australian Stream Management Conference 2020
EditorsT Boyd, M Coker, S Gregor, A Miller, A Morris, K Russell, I.D Rutherford, G.J Vietz, J Walker, A Wood
PublisherRiver Basin Management Society
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9780646844916
Publication statusPublished - 02 Aug 2021
Event10th Australian Stream Management Conference - Online
Duration: 02 Aug 202104 Aug 2021
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Conference10th Australian Stream Management Conference
OtherThe Australian Stream Management Conference is an unmissable opportunity to connect with the amazing people driving stream and integrated catchment management in Australia, while sharing new experiences and advancements in knowledge and practice.
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