Research on the Re-introduction of large pieces of wood into streams

Case Study C

Over a period of 10 years LWA supported work on this topic by the same scientist, initially as a postgraduate research project identifying the key principles, then through a large research and demonstration project that aimed to test and evaluate re-introduction techniques in real life on two high-energy streams. At the commencement of the work little thought was given to project legacy, but with the success of the second study this became an important issue as there was increasing interest in wood re-introduction but few, if any, evaluations of past on-ground works.

Three approaches were adopted to build legacy. The first was to engage the relevant State agency in the re-introduction work so that its staff (initially skeptical) could see for themselves the construction methods and how the replaced wood withstood large flood events. Winning over the staff and the local community, and allaying their fears that re-introduced wood would be washed downstream and threaten valuable infrastructure such as bridges, was a crucial step in getting wood re-introduction to be taken seriously.

The next step was to publicise the work to river and catchment managers, community groups and engineers. This was done through articles in RipRap, a magazine focusing on river and riparian research, as well as presentations and discussion at a series of workshops on different aspects of riparian management held in all States and Territories so that people could talk to the researcher direct. These workshops were run across the country and included a field component so that the researcher could show in ‘real life’ how the theory could be put into practice.

The final step for legacy was to provide the details of the re-introduction methods, and the evaluation of the LWA-funded demonstration project, in a 'Design Guideline for Reintroducing wood into Australian Streams’ that enables others to plan, implement and evaluate their own wood re-introduction project. These next steps were supported by LWA well after the research had been completed, but in order to make sure the legacy from the initial investments was maintained.

By Phil Price, Technical Adviser

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