Environmental Management

, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 1201–1218 | Cite as

Don’t Fight the Site: Three Geomorphic Considerations in Catchment-Scale River Rehabilitation Planning

  • Gary BrierleyEmail author
  • Kirstie Fryirs


Three geomorphic considerations that underpin the design and implementation of realistic and strategic river conservation and rehabilitation programs that work with the nature are outlined. First, the importance of appreciating the inherent diversity of river forms and processes is discussed. Second, river dynamics are appraised, framing the contemporary behavioral regime of a reach in relation to system evolution to explain changes to river character and behavior over time. Third, the trajectory of a reach is framed in relation to downstream patterns of river types, analyzing landscape connectivity at the catchment scale to interpret geomorphic river recovery potential. The application of these principles is demonstrated using extensive catchment-scale analyses of geomorphic river responses to human disturbance in the Bega and Upper Hunter catchments in southeastern Australia. Differing implications for reach- and catchment-scale rehabilitation planning prompt the imperative that management practices work with nature rather than strive to ‘fight the site.’


River rehabilitation Geomorphology Human impact River change River evolution River recovery River Styles Landscape connectivity 



Discussions with various colleagues at Macquarie University and the University of Auckland, and numerous participants in field-based professional short courses that we teach, greatly assisted the development of this paper. We thank David Outhet for his ongoing support of these courses. Critical appraisals by three anonymous reviews and Helen Reid helped us to restructure and rewrite the paper. Primary research was supported initially by Land and Water Australia and subsequently by an ARC Linkage Grant (LP0346918).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography, Geology and Environmental ScienceUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Discipline of Environmental Science, Department of Environment and GeographyMacquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia

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