In the midst of a worldwide trend of environmental degradation and natural resource depletion, efforts for recovery and salvaging are being heightened in response to a global call for the conservation of nature. In implementing this goal, various considerations confront policy makers as to which approach or principle will be put to use. With regards to the general health of the rivers, namely: Hutt, Greenough, and Chapman in Western Australia, it is apparent that the three are already in the verge of destruction, albeit, majority are still within the threshold of nature.
Along this line however, many other factors are still under consideration. But first, evaluating the status of the rivers would guide our understanding in restoring them. Greenough River The river is a strategically significant waterway in the mid west region of Australia. This is in terms of biodiversity, habitat provision, cultural and aesthetic values, including recreational activities. Greenough begins near the Yalgoo district, approximately 240 kilometers north east of Geraldton, Western Australia, and extends through a diverse landscape to the river mouth located at Cape Burney 10 kilometers south of Geraldton.
The Greenough River has a large receiving basin that has been utilized for agriculture for in ancient times. But in an unlikely event, the Water and Rivers Commission (WRC) in their 2001 study, cited the significant clearing of remaining vegetation in the catchments area of the river and degradation of the riparian zone along its banks from past and present land exploitation has resulted in declining water quality, loss of biodiversity and habitat provision, poor bank stability, rising groundwater tables and sedimentation. The riparian environment next to natural waterway supposedly serves as a buffer zone to the surrounding territory.
Chapman River Like Greenough, the Chapman River is also a significant watercourse in the mid west region of Australia in terms of biodiversity, habitat provision, cultural and aesthetic values, including recreational activities. The Chapman River system originates near Yuna which is approximately 60 kilometers north east of Geraldton, Western Australia. An official study conducted by the Water and Rivers Commission (2001), showed that the health of Chapman River and its tributaries, marked from ranged of Very Poor to Very Good.
Only few areas rated Very Good, while the Very Poor ratings are recorded all through the catchments. Hutt River Hutt River passes through the area of Batavia, near Geraldton in mid west Australia and extends towards the Batavia coast, which serves as its catchment. Hutt River’s lagoon has been described in the Regional Coastal Strategy Plan, 1997 “as the only significant coastal lagoon formation and may have a sediment supply relationship with the coastal areas to the north”.
It is also a primary site with potential for Land Based Marine Aquaculture in the Mid-West Region. Restoring the rivers The least and the best option now is to recover what have been lost. As the principle of ecology suggests, there’s no free lunch in nature– what you get, must be returned. In this case, restoring the rivers to its near pristine state would mean payback to the cost humans have spared. Hence, river restoration has been described by Blackwell Publishing as becoming an emerging business at present and an alternative policy option.
Restoration is defined as the retransformation of an ecosystem from degraded state to becoming a close approximation of the potential left in the system. In the case of the three rivers, the Geraldton Guardian reported, that each of the rivers being identified are in poor state and faces more serious threats of degradation if not mitigated or restored. Hence, to protect and enhance the ecological integrity and social values of river Hutt, Greenough, and Chapman, a foreshore assessment to evaluate the health of the rivers and its accorded management plans was conducted.
Foreshore assessment is anchored on the State principles that require flexible approaches in riparian planning and land management, as stipulated by the Department of Environment. This policy advocates the use of the biological and physical features or biophysical criteria associated with a waterway and its values and pressures to determine the level of degradation around the waterway. The same study (WRC, 2001) revealed that among other resulting problems, the identified rivers were evident and or confronted with related problems.
This is regardless of the fact that they have almost similar significance and ecological elements and components in that part of the mid west region. Among of the key issues being raised which demand for an immediate policy move includes: • Poor bank stability– due to an increased water volumes and removal of vegetation and rising levels of water; • Loss of native and endemic vegetation and high levels of weed invasion, particularly in the verge vegetation; • Lack of stream cover – due to loss of lush vegetation;
• Reduced habitat diversity; • Relatively low increases on the value of land and reduce ability for land utilization to earn a living; and • difficulties associated with managing accessibility. Specific concerns involves weeds control, of which the priority include controlling the grasses (Couch, Red Natal, African love grass and Fountain grass), Castor oil, Arum lily, Blackberry and pasture weeds including Doublegee, Lupins, Paterson’s curse and Saffron thistle. Challenges in Restoration