Threats to riparian land

There are many threats to riparian land in Victoria.

Stylised image showing threats to riparian land including uncontrolled livestock access, invasive species and bed and bank erosion

The major threats to the condition of riparian land in Victoria include:

Stock access

Uncontrolled stock access to riparian land and the bed and banks of waterways can contaminate water, degrade native vegetation and erode the banks by trampling.

Farmland with creek through middle, cows standing in the creek and on the banksStock access to beds and banks of Middle Creek, South West Victoria.
Photo courtesy Glenelg Hopkins CMA

Weeds and pest animals

Weeds (especially willows) and pest animals (such as rabbits) degrade native vegetation, can spread to other areas and, in the case of weeds, can make access to rivers difficult.

Willow trees growing along a riverbankWillows dominate the banks of the Happy Valley Creek, North East Victoria
Photo courtesy North East CMA

Vehicle access

Unmanaged vehicle access and stream crossings can have a serious impact on riparian land.

Fenced farmland on rights, dirt vehicle track through centre, creek on left
Vehicle access damaging the riparian land. Gunbower Creek, North West Victoria
Photo courtesy North Central CMA

Rubbish dumping

Rubbish dumping can be a serious issue in riparian areas, impacting on both environmental and recreational values.

Dumped assorted rubbish, including machinery, in the middle of native vegetation
Rubbish dumped in the Gunbower Creek, Norther West Victoria
Photo courtesy North Central CMA

Other threats

Riparian land offers great potential for recreation. However, pressure from recreational activities can lead to damaged and destroyed vegetation, litter and other issues.

Other threats include lack of and degraded riparian vegetation due to past clearing, urban development and some agricultural practices (for example, cropping too close to riparian land).

These threats have all affected the condition of Victoria’s riparian land. The third statewide benchmarking of riparian land condition undertaken in 2010 showed that 32 per cent was in good to excellent condition, around 40 per cent was in moderate condition and 28 per cent was in poor to very poor condition.

Managing riparian land

Stylised image showing well-managed riparian land, including off-stream watering of livestock, fenced riparian land with gate access to water and revegetationOver the last 20 years, waterway managers in Victoria have worked in voluntary partnerships with landholders to undertake riparian management activities.

Riparian management activities are activities that aim to protect or improve the condition of riparian land.

Riparian management activities are primarily funded from the state and Australian governments. In particular, through implementation of the Regional Riparian Action Plan, an additional $40 million is being provided for riparian works from 2015 to 2020.

Regional Waterway Strategies, developed by waterway managers in 2014, identify high value waterways and outline the regional priorities for riparian management to guide investment over an eight-year period.

Riparian management activities provide many benefits to the community:

  • Improved water quality (with significant benefits to public health due to improved drinking water quality);
  • Better stock management, stock water quality and stock productivity;
  • Improved habitat and diversity of native vegetation; and
  • Sequestering carbon.

The scale of riparian work has meant that some waterways in the state are now almost entirely fenced and protected. For example, the floodplain section of the Snowy River in East Gippsland is almost entirely fenced, about 2100 kilometres of the Glenelg River and its tributaries have been fenced and several waterways in the Goulburn Broken catchment are more than 80% protected from stock (for example, Ryans and Holland creeks, Taggerty and Howqua rivers).

Fencing and revegetation

Fencing to keep out livestock, and revegetation can lead to the rejuvination of riparian land.

Fenced agricultural land on right, creek and native vegetation on right
Fencing and revegetation on the Mitchell River, East Gippsland.
Photo courtesy East Gippsland CMA

Off-stream stock watering

Provision of off-stream stock watering infrastructure and controlled grazing help lessen the impact of livestock on riparian land.

Water tank and trough separated from creek by a fence
Off-stream stock watering. An important tool to manage stock access to waterways. Joyce’s Creek (Loddon River tributary).
Photo courtesy Johanna Slijkerman, DELWP

Weed management

Including weed and pest management in the maintenance of riparian land can greatly improve existing native vegetation.

Woman cutting back weeds by the river
Managing weeds along the lower Snowy River, East Gippsland, by crew of the Moogji Aboriginal Council.
Photo courtesy East Gippsland CMA

Case study: the Amery farm, Glenelg River, Mooree

Farmer standing next to fenced riparian landIn 2010, Geoff and Cherryl Amery undertook their first Landcare project with the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority. They had recently moved onto their property at Mooree with the Glenelg River running through it. While the cropping and sheep and cattle grazing property had idyllic river frontages, there were significant active eroding gullies leading into the river on the property.

Geoff says the motivation behind the project, “was to fence off the gully to exclude stock to protect it from further erosion”. He said, “the decision to undertake the works was easy, with the CMA providing funding for 1.2 kilometres of fencing and 1200 native trees and shrubs and providing technical assistance throughout the project.”

Other projects undertaken by the Amerys have included the protection of high quality native vegetation along the Glenelg River and land class fencing to better manage saline areas. These projects are part of Geoff and Cherryl’s overall farm plan. Geoff says:

The benefits have been amazing since completing the project. With ease of mustering stock now, and the protection for stock from weather, the project has been a real benefit. There is less or no erosion now, and the aesthetic appeal is absolutely beautiful, a paradise for bird life. A gully I was once ashamed of is now a place I take pride in, showing it to many visitors and our B & B Cottage guests. I have really appreciated the professional assistance that the CMA has been to me over the time I have been farming here at Harrow.

Photo, above: Geoff Amery on his property along the Glenelg River, Mooree, South West Victoria. Photo courtesy Glenelg Hopkins CMA.

Page last updated: 13/02/19