The Living Murray initiative aims to improve the ecological condition of significant forests, wetlands and lakes along the River Murray as part of helping to deliver the Basin Plan objectives and outcomes. It is a joint partnership between the Australian Government and Basin state and territory governments, and the Murray–Darling Basin Authority.
This report draws on over 10 years of ecological monitoring undertaken as part of the Living Murray by local and state agencies at six priority environmental assets, also known as icon sites, on the River Murray in the southern Murray–Darling Basin. This monitoring provides invaluable long term data, tracking the ecological condition of these assets and ecological responses to water delivery for the environment over time. This is from the time of the longest drought in Australia’s recorded history (the millennium drought) when only small amounts of water for the environment were available, through improved conditions, to the first use of environmental works and more water available for the environment across the Basin.
This report is a first attempt at providing a high level qualitative assessment of the performance against icon site objectives from 2006–07 to 2016–17. This information is essential to support adaptive management at the site, system and basin scales and its presentation and utility will be refined over time.
While it is still early days, this monitoring provides a strong evidence base that, where environmental water holders and managers have been able to deliver water for the environment, the health of the southern Murray–Darling Basin rivers, wetlands and floodplains are improving. This monitoring shows the critical role of water for the environment to build on the benefits of natural flooding, maintain and build resilience in dry times and how the operation of environmental works over successive years is helping achieve environmental outcomes.