Riverside rescue report released
The report 'Riverside Rescue' was released on World Rivers Day, 2011.
It highlights the parlous state of Victoria's degraded rivers and streams and identifies policy solutions that would help repair rivers and improve water quality across Victoria.
Compiled by scientific experts from Monash University and commissioned by the Victorian National Parks Association, the report draws attention to significant threats from cattle trampling valuable riverside habitats and fouling waterways.
Cattle are currently allowed to graze on much of the 30,000km of Victoria's publicly-owned land abutting inland waterways under state licences.
Monash University has reviewed a large body of research in the field of riparian land management from across the world and found that well-managed land abutting rivers and creeks has a range of benefits that cattle impact upon. These include:
- Water quality.
- Aquatic biodiversity.
- Terrestrial biodiversity.
- Resilience of plant and animal populations.
- Conservation of threatened species.
The report also identifies the risks cattle in streams pose to water quality and human health. It found that:
- Cattle faeces contain pathogens (infectious agents or germs) that can be transmitted to humans.
- These pathogens can survive long periods in water.
- Transmission to humans can occur directly by ingesting contaminated water.
- Allowing cattle uncontrolled access to water has multiple impacts that increase the likelihood of pathogens entering the water supply.
- Nutrients from cows increase the potential for toxic algal blooms.
The report includes a number of case studies from across Victoria that consistently show benefits to river and soil health, biodiversity, and ecological functions of riparian areas following exclusion of stock.