The Murray CMA needed to understand the condition of riparian vegetation for the Yanco, Colombo and Billabong Creeks to assist with identifying investment priorities for the system in the future. Water Technology and the Murray CMA developed a method for assessing the riparian condition, vegetation composition, potential threats and condition trajectory.
A limited budget allowed only 20 days to field assess 1,000km of creek network vegetation and hence we had to develop a method that was:
• Rapid enough to allow a ‘reasonable’ sample size
• Repeatable (method able to be applied by trained CMA/LLS staff and well documented)
• Useful in meeting the project aims
• Capable of assessing the key vegetation condition attributes
• Able to inform investment direction.
A range of condition assessment parameters were mapped and graphed by reach including Habitat Quality, Riparian and Instream Health, Canopy Health, Weed cover and Condition Trajectory. More than 1200 photos were taken across the project area and these were provided digitally in a GIS hotlinked project file. This allows the viewing of photographs across the project area at the click of a mouse on a map.
The final report provided a baseline condition assessment of riparian vegetation across the project area and included recommendations for future work to maintain or enhance that condition.