Applications and impact of the River Styles framework
River Styles has had international impact on river management through application of the framework. The following are a selection of applications that demonstrate the potential for River Styles to integrate with other management tools and provide a geomorphic basis for river management.
European REFORM (Restoring rivers FOR effective catchment management) – including the Morphological Quality Index (MQI)
Restoring river ecosystems in Europe: the REFORM project’s objectives were to provide tools to support cost-effective implementation of restoration measures and monitoring to reach the ecological objectives for rivers as required by the EU Water Framework Directive. REFORM aimed to improve existing tools and develop new ones to increase the success and cost-effectiveness of restoration measures and procedures to monitor the biological responses to hydromorphological changes with greater precision and sensitivity. For this, REFORM developed an open-ended hydromorphology framework incorporating multi-scale spatial and temporal aspects that builds heavily on the River Styles Framework. It aids users in developing understanding of the morphology and dynamics of river reaches and their causes. The Morphological Quality Index (MQI) is the method recommended by REFORM for assessing river condition. The MQI builds directly on Stage 2 of the River Styles Framework. The method is extremely useful for analysing and interpreting critical problems and causes of alteration.
United Kingdom – Climate change impacts on river typologies for the Water Framework Directive – Environment Agency UK (2006)
USA – Columbia Habitat Monitoring Program (CHaMP)
The goal of CHaMP is to generate and implement a standard set of fish habitat monitoring (status and trend) methods in up to 26 watersheds across the Columbia River basin. The program undertakes larger salmonid population-level life cycle modelling and restoration activities and uses this to priortize habitat for salmonids listed in the Endangered Species Act. The application has been in the Interior Columbia River Basin in the Pacific Northwest. The River Styles Framework is used as the geomorphic template for identifying river types and associated geomorphic structure, to assess geomorphic condition and recovery potential. The Framework has also provided a basis for integrating a range of geospatial tools, and generating new tools for assessing the ecohydrology and geomorphology of rivers more generally.
Upscaling site-scale ecohydraulic models to inform salmonid population-level life cycle modeling and restoration actions – Lessons from the Columbia River Basin in Earth Surface Processes and Landforms (2018)
USA – River Styles Report for the Middle Fork John Day Watershed, Oregon
USA – United States Department of Agriculture – Guidance for Stream Restoration and Rehabilitation
Yochum, Steven E. 2016.
Guidance for stream restoration and rehabilitation. Technical Note TN-102.2. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Stream & Aquatic Ecology Center.
USA – Texas Water Development Board
USA – Texas Water Development Board
Australian Federal, State and Local Government
Land & Water Australia – Measuring return on 20 years of investment in natiral resource management research & development
Commonwealth – National Water Initiative (NWI)
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI)
NSW DPI has applied the River Styles Framework in mapping and assessing river types, river condition and recovery potential across the state of NSW since about 2000. Analyses of geomorphic condition are incorporated with other indices of hydrological stress, threatened species and vegetation condition to create the River Condition Index. State-wide overage of River Styles (all 4 stages) is soon to be available.
This significant investment has been used by many Departments, including NSW Local Land Services, DPI Fisheries, DPI Water and former Catchment Management Authorities to achieve savings through improved decision making and prioritisation of activities. The state wide assessment also provides a database to that illustrates the range of River Styles, reference reaches for practitioners to consult, and target conditions to guide management and rehabilitation approaches. The Framework is also used to inform Water Sharing Plans across NSW.
NSW Catchment Management Authorities (fmr) – Catchment Action Plans
NSW Natural Resources Commission – Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Strategy (MER)
The MER Strategy supports regional delivery of Natural Resource Management (NRM) in NSW and informs the review, revision and ongoing implementation of Catchment Action Plans and other high-level strategic plans such as the NSW Biodiversity Strategy. The aim of NRM MER is for a seamless link between local, regional, State and Australian Government NRM data that truly informs and guides the whole community on how we care for the natural resources of the State and builds robust mechanisms that facilitate the acquisition, management and sharing of NRM data. The River Styles Framework is used as one of the key baseline datasets used in this strategy.
NSW Catchment Managament Authorities – River Health Strategies
NSW River Health Strategies used River Styles to assessing river reach structure and function, geomorphic condition, recovery potential and threats to recovery. This was used in conjunction with indicators of ecological health to set a strategy to:
- Maintain the condition of river reaches where they are in natural or near natural condition
- Maintain and improve river reaches where they are in good condition
- Improve the environmental condition of the remaining river reaches
- Achieve the highest environmental and community gain for the resources invested
NSW Local Land Services – Transition Catchment Action Plans and State Strategic Plans
River Styles, as part of the NSW River Condition Index, is incorporated into the long term strategic catchment planning of the NSW Local Land Services (LLS). Prior to the transition to LLS, the Catchment Management Authorities (CMA) used the River Styles Framework as a key dataset in their River Health Strategies and Catchment Action Plans. This work is ongoing as part of a strategic goal for healthy, diverse and connected natural environments in the LLS State Strategic Plan.
NSW State of the Environment Reports 2012 and 2015
NSW State of the Environment (SoE) reports on the status of key environmental issues facing New South Wales. The River Styles Framework was used to create a Statewide assessment of geomorphic condition, providing a more detailed analysis than previous work including the Murray-Darling Basin Sustainable Rivers Audit.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries) – Fish communities and threatened species assessments
Commonwealth Environmental Water Office and Murray-Darling Basin Authority – Murray-Darling Basin aquatic ecosystem classification
Brooks S., Cottingham P., Butcher R. and Hale J. (2014). Murray-Darling Basin aquatic ecosystem classification: Stage 2 report. Peter Cottingham & Associates report to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office and Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Canberra
Sustainable Rivers Audit – A review of geomorphic classification schemes for rivers and floodplains
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage – Wild Rivers
Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
Tasmania – Natural Resource Management (NRM) – South Region
Queensland – Mary River and Tributaries Rehabilitation Plan 2000
Queensland – Lockyer Catchment Action Plan 2015-2018
Tasmania Natural Resource Management Associations – Tasmania’s River Geomorphology
NSW Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan
NSW Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program (Ecohealth)
Native Fish Strategy program of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority – Demonstration Reach Toolbox
Council and environmental groups
Many smaller councils and environmental groups have adopted the River Styles Framework, either through their own assessment or through assessments conducted by larger state funded departments (e.g. NSW DPI Water).
Warringah Council (NSW) – Creek Management Study
Sunshine Coast Council (QLD)
ACT Natural Resource Management Council
Molongo River Rescue Action Plan 2010 (NSW)
Blue Mountains City Council (NSW)
Landscape-scale assessment of watercourses in remote arid South Australia to inform mine planning and mine closure – Iluka Resources and Alluvium Consulting
Awards and recognition
Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)
Australian Institute of Policy and Science Tall Poppy Awards
Innovation in Research Award in 2007 for the River Styles Framework
Innovative Partnership – Highly Commended in 2005 for the Upper Hunter River Rehabilitation Initiative