The Identification of Wild Rivers

Methodology and database development
J.L. Stein, J.A. Stein and H.A. Nix,
Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies,
Australian National University, 1998

ISBN 0 6425 4590 1

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About this document

The Wild Rivers project arose from the Prime Minister's Statement on the Environment, December 1992, which set out a commitment by the Commonwealth to assist agencies to identify rivers in near-pristine condition and to encourage protection and proper management of their total catchment. The Australian Heritage Commission was given the lead role in developing the Near-pristine Rivers Project, later renamed the Wild Rivers project, with three major objectives:

  1. to identify Australia's wild rivers;
  2. to develop a voluntary code of conservation management guidelines for wild rivers; and
  3. to promote awareness of the values of wild rivers

This report deals with the first of these objectives, the identification of wild rivers, focusing on the methodology adopted. Analysis of the results of the identification procedure is presented elsewhere (Stein, Stein and Nix, in prep.). Other components of the project are also presented separately, for example, Conservation Management Guidelines and stakeholder liaison.

Section 1 presents a brief background to the identification phase of the project, including the involvement of State and Territory agencies. Section 2 provides an overview of the Wild Rivers Model. Technical details of the operation of the model and the development of the supporting database are presented in Section 3. The Wild Rivers software was developed to enable update, display and interrogation of the Wild Rivers database. Its functions and use are described in Section 4.

Undertaking a national assessment imposes many constraints and limitations, in particular in relation to data availability and hence the complexity of the model used. In Section 5 these issues are discussed along with suggestions for future improvements.