Evidence-based decision making and adaptive management underpin the effective management of Victoria’s waterways.

Collectively, DELWP’s waterway monitoring programs help management programs in rivers, wetlands, estuaries and riparian land to be adaptively improved using new information.

Three types of evidence complement each other to support adaptive management:

  • Surveillance monitoring;
  • Management intervention monitoring; and
  • Strategic research

Surveillance Monitoring

Surveillance monitoring provides valuable information about current waterway values and threats at large, spatial scales. It is expected that, over the long-term, the influence of management activities will reflect in overall improvements of waterway resource conditions. These improvements may take many decades to emerge, however, as the benefits of management actions accumulate and ecological systems have time to recover.

State-wide surveillance monitoring of resource condition is undertaken using three specifically developed Indices of Condition:

  • The Index of Stream Condition (ISC);
  • The Index of Wetland Condition (IWC); and
  • The Index of Estuary Condition (IEC).

The Indices of Condition integrate data that covers the key components of rivers, wetlands and estuaries, which are important from an ecological perspective (water regime, water quality, aquatic life, physical form and riparian vegetation). They have been designed to assess environmental condition.

The Indices of Condition were not designed to measure the local-scale effects of particular management activities at specific sites and do not currently measure change in condition over time (that is, trend). The Indices of Condition are currently used to provide a spatial 'snapshot' of condition across the state at a single point in time.

Management Intervention Monitoring

Management intervention monitoring is required to evaluate the expected changes that can be attributed to the delivery of management activities (or interventions). The purpose of this monitoring is to document responses to management activities. This monitoring can be used to validate and update assumptions and expectations, as well as communicate progress made towards agreed management objectives.

Management activities (or interventions) on waterways take place at many locations across Victoria each year. It is not practical or cost-effective to measure the outcomes of these management activities at all these locations. Therefore, a program of targeted monitoring is undertaken across the state and will focus on priority areas of investment.

Strategic Research

Strategic research is needed to test our assumptions about relationships between management activities and waterway health outcomes. It also improves our understanding of underlying processes and emerging threats. Wherever possible, research efforts will support and link to resource condition assessments and management intervention monitoring efforts underway.