Conservation of freshwater ecosystems in the Murray-Darling Basin

Freshwater ecosystems in the Murray-Darling Basin are being degraded by a range of drivers, including over-extraction of water, poorly designed or unnecessary water infrastructure and climate change. The 2012-2026 Murray-Darling Basin Plan is meant to conserve freshwater biodiversity but its benefits are being limited by poor implementation and a failure to adequately incorporate measures to address climate and other environmental change. Our research looks at options for more effective conservation of freshwater ecosystems for the benefit of people and nature. We assess the implementation of government commitments under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. This research is often in collaboration with Indigenous nations, river communities and the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists.

Current projects include the following –

  • Identifying climate change adaptation options to conserve freshwater ecosystems;
  • Assessing the benefits of rebuilding or removing redundant water infrastructure to restore river and floodplain connectivity;
  • Researching the costs and benefits of restoring riverine natural capital for people and biodiversity;
  • Identifying options to deliver water-based ecosystem services to people with lower environmental impacts compared to large-scale infrastructure projects, including for the management of floods and supply of water;
  • Assessing options for better delivery of environmental flows and conservation of freshwater biodiversity in protected areas;
  • Researching enhanced governance of freshwater ecosystems and resources.