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Towards best practice management of Queensland’s rivers

The Queensland River Management Framework is a Queensland Government program of work delivering the Queensland River Rehabilitation Management Guideline (Guideline) and a Queensland River Classification Scheme (Classification Scheme). These scientifically robust decision support tools will enable increased consistency and transparency in decision-making. They will improve the efficiency, success and impact of river management policies and programs aimed at building resilience as well as conserving and appropriately managing rivers already in good condition. In addition to these tools, is the development of a set of guiding principles to support collaboration and co-design with First Nations peoples to integrate their traditional knowledge, sciences, stories and connection to Country with the Department’s scientific understanding of river management.

Since 2017, over $51 million has been invested in Queensland river rehabilitation activities following natural disaster events, with significant additional investments targeting river restoration for resilience and water quality outcomes. These significant investments have been made with limited access to technical decision-support tools to prioritise and guide rehabilitation effort. This has resulted in reduced transparency and consistency in decision making and a lack of consensus about what ‘best practice’ river management looks like.

Led by the Department of Environment and Science, this program aims to deliver scientifically robust and integrated tools to enable best practice river rehabilitation and management. It builds on significant work commissioned by the former Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and led by Water Technology, and has collaborated across all levels of government, NRM groups, universities and the private sector to refine the tools and maximise awareness and uptake.

Classifying rivers helps us to understand how they function, their status and values, and how to properly manage them. The Queensland River Classification Scheme is important as it will help to create transparent scientifically robust and uniform approaches to inform river mapping, modelling, management, decision-making and research. It is an attribute-based classification that is consistent with the Interim Australian National Aquatic Ecosystem (ANAE) Classification Scheme, and other aquatic system classification schemes for Queensland.

The Guideline provides a seven-step approach that considers multiple objectives and values to develop a river rehabilitation management plan. It will be aligned with the whole-of-system catchment management framework originally developed for the wetlands in the Great Barrier Reef Catchments Management Strategy 2016-2021 and complimentary to river management policies and programs in Queensland. The Guideline suite of tools will consist of an interactive web tool hosted on WetlandInfo, a downloadable document, and reporting tools that enable the user to develop project specific reports including user defined rehabilitation plans and data and mapping reports.

If you would like to find out more about this program of work, contact [email protected].

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