Putting rivers into rehab after fire

The Murrumbidgee River, Australia’s third longest river and a major tributary of the Murray River, holds significant ecological value, with many threatened fish and plant species calling it home. It is also a part of Canberra’s drinking-water supply.


Murrumbidgee River in the Bumbalong Valley affected by fire. Photo: Antia Brademann.

In recent times, droughts, bushfires and subsequent high rainfall have caused high levels of sediment and ash to enter the waterway, smothering the river, drastically reducing water quality, and threatening native plants and wildlife, such as the iconic Platypus and the endangered Macquarie Perch.

With support from the Caterpillar Foundation, Greening Australia is partnering with the Australian River Restoration Centre to help local communities tackle this environmental challenge. Together we’ve launched Recovering our Rivers, a project focusing on restoring parts of the Murrumbidgee River catchment, and the adjoining Shoalhaven catchment, where the impacts of fire have left landowners grappling with massive erosion damage on their properties.

The Caterpillar Foundation is supporting the project, because they recognise that investing in natural infrastructure initiatives can help protect, restore and maintain ecological and riverside communities that are susceptible to threats and natural disasters.

By working together with local landholders, the project will demonstrate that the community is not alone in facing the devastation the fires left behind.

The project will address both the symptoms and causes of erosion, with works along the river, as well as higher up in the tributaries to prevent more sediment from entering the waterway.

In addition to targeted erosion works, landholders will be assisted to fence off gullies, creeks and rivers to protect plants from livestock grazing.

An exciting part of the project is installing some new ‘fish hotels’ for native fish, which will be placed in locations where we know these fish like to hang out.

Together, the Caterpillar Foundation, Greening Australia, the Australian River Restoration Centre and landholders will restore and protect the natural values of local river ecosystems. We hope that this timely investment will also boost community spirit and resolve to continue caring for these important waterways.

This is a repost based on the original blog, which can be found on the Caterpillar Foundation’s website.

Recovering our Rivers builds on a long-standing collaboration between Greening Australia and the Australian River Restoration Centre on the ‘Rivers of Carbon’ program, working with landholders and other organisations across regional New South Wales to protect and restore rivers.

For more information about this project, please feel free to send us an online query.