Posted by Siwan Lovett | March 23, 2017
We know that healthy riparian areas mean improved in-stream health because:
- Native vegetation in and along the stream provides the leaf litter, insects and food that fish and other aquatic organisms need to survive
- Native vegetation along the stream shades the water, reducing temperatures and enabling native plants and animals to thrive
- Mixed trees, shrubs, grasses and reeds trap and filter sediment, preventing it from entering streams and degrading water quality
- Trees and wood falling into the stream provides habitat for fish and aquatic organisms
When these actions are taken we boost life in riparian areas, enabling these important parts of you landscape to fulfil their role as ‘hotspots for biodiversity’. At the bottom of this page you will find a range of resources focusing on in-stream health, we encourage you to spend some time going through them to find out answers to any questions you might have about riparian zones and in-stream health.
In addition to restoring riparian areas, the Rivers of Carbon project also tries to improve in-stream health for endangered species, with two of these being the Southern Pygmy Perch and the Macquarie Perch.
“Habitat makes Fish Happen’ and we have been fortunate to work with native fish expert, Dr Luke Pearce from the Department of Primary Industries. Luke has undertaken surveys across Rivers of Carbon sites to see how native fish are doing in response to changed habitat as a result of riparian restoration. In the southern tablelands of New South Wales we have a big problem with the exotic European Carp and Redfin taking over much of the available habitat and decimating our native species.
Luke has noticed enormous changes in the riparian zone condition of the Yass River and these changes have positively impacted on fish populations, with Murray cod, Golden perch and the Southern pygmy perch all present in some river reaches. This quote from Luke really sums up why we do what we do, and the success of the Rivers of Carbon Yass River Linkages project in contributing to healthy rivers and inspired communities.
“There has been an incredible transformation in some sections of the stream from a willow clogged, stagnant mess, to a stunning looking natural Australian river system, complete with large complex wood debris, fantastic riparian vegetation, pools, riffles, cobble beds, fringing and submerged aquatic vegetation, ideal habitat for all manner of native fish.”
Saving the Southern Pygmy Perch:
We have also been paying attention to a special little threatened fish called the Southern Pygmy Perch. Working with Luke we have established a couple of populations of Southern Pygmy Perch in the Blakney Creek and Pudman Creek. To protect one of these populations from carp and redfin, we constructed a large rock wall – not even carp can get over it! You can read more about this project in our blog post entitled ‘Alien fish stopped in their tracks’. The wall has been successful in protecting the Pygmy population and we have the great news to report that we have self-sustaining populations with a range of ages showing that breeding is occurring and young are surviving to adulthood. We recently got in touch with Luke to ask him to write about how Rivers of Carbon has assisted him in his work protecting the Southern Pygmy Perch:
I have been working with the Rivers of Carbon (RoC) team on several projects now for a number of years. I have found the model and the approach from the team involved to be an extremely successful process, one that has been successful in engaging and connecting the local community and landholders back to their rivers and waterways.
The program has been extremely useful with regard to threatened species projects that I have been working on, it has enabled these projects and species to gain a wider audience through which has built awareness, engagement and ownership. Local landholders are now aware of threatened species that live in their waterways, they have an affinity with and for them, where as previously they did not even know they existed. This has allowed for ongoing targeted management aimed at maintaining and improving these populations of threatened species that would have otherwise gone largely unnoticed and unassisted.
The engagement and funding from RoC has assisted in the establishment of and additional population of Southern Pygmy Perch a small threatened native fish species. This is the first successful reintroduction of this species into the wild, and now one of only 4 known populations left within NSW. Not only has the RoC project supported the rehabilitation of the creek system in which these re-introductions have occurred it has funded the ongoing monitoring of this population and allowed us to determine that not only is the population persisting and recruiting, but it is now dispersing within the system. RoC also has increased the dissemination of this information and allowed for these results to reach a much wider audience and hopefully inspire other landholders and community groups.
The RoC program was also involved in the funding of a barrier to prevent pest fish from moving upstream into some of the last pest fish habitat for Southern Pygmy Perch, this was an innovative and novel approach targeted at maintaining an extremely important and venerable remnant population, which would otherwise no doubt have been lost.
These are just some examples of how RoC is supporting not only significant work on the ground but is linking communities, landholders, and science to attain a better outcome for all involved. Too often we tend to work in isolation I think the real value in RoC is that it brings everyone together working towards a common goal.
We have written a number of stories about our work with the Southern Pygmy Perch that you can access here:
- Saving the Southern Pygmy Perch
- Farmers helping to save the Southern Pygmy Perch
- Southern Pygmy Perch breeding in Pudman Creek
- Alien fish stopped in their tracks – protecting the Southern Pygmy Perch
- RipRap Edition 34 – Bringing Back Native Fish – Community efforts save a small fish
- Feeling Fishy Field Day
- RipRap Edition 39 – Habitat makes Fish Happen – Pygmy fish inspiring goliath action
Another fish we are working had to protect is the Macquarie Perch, with our work focusing on this species in the Upper Murrumbidgee River. We are fortunate to be working with another terrific fish scientists Prue McGuffie and her work to ‘bring the Macca Back’ has been the subject of a number of articles as well as a separate webpage. To find out what we are doing follow the links below:
Bringing the Macca Back
The issue of carp in our waterways is immense, this species are doing so much damage to our waterways and native fish communities. Rivers of Carbon has been doing work in managing carp and we have a page dedicated to ‘talking carp’.
We also have a range of resources about in-stream health that you might like to explore:
Fact Sheet 4 — Maintaining in-stream life
Fact Sheet 5 — Riparian habitat for wildlife
Fact Sheet 7 — Managing Woody Debris in Rivers
Fact Sheet 8 — Inland Rivers and Floodplains
Fact Sheet 10 — River flows and blue-green algae
Fact Sheet 12 — Riparian Ecosystem Services
Fact Sheet 13 — Managing Riparian Widths
RipRap — River and Riparian Management Newsletter
Riparian Land Management Technical Guideline Updates
Number 3 (July 2003) — Managing wood in streams
Number 5 (October 2004) — Managing high in-stream temperatures using riparian vegetation
Number 6 (June 2006) — Controlling willows along Australian rivers
Design guideline for the reintroduction of wood into Australian streams
Riparian Land Management Technical Guidelines
Refer to the following chapters
Chapter 3 — Temperature and light
Chapter 4 — Aquatic food webs
Chapter 7 — Large woody debris and other aquatic habitat
Chapter 8 — The role of vegetation in riparian management
Chapter 9 — Riparian wildlife and habitats
Refer to the following chapters
Chapter A — Controlling nuisance aquatic plants
Chapter B — Managing snags and large woody debris
Chapter E — Managing and rehabilitating riparian vegetation
Chapter F — Managing riparian land for terrestrial wildlife
A Rehabilitation Manual for Australian Streams
You can use this power point presentation to reflect local riparian characteristics, by inserting photos and examples from your region.
The powerpoint presentation has notes to accompany each slide, explaining the key point being made and how you might explain it to others.