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Accueil du site → Doctorat → Australie → 2007 → River response to land clearing and landscape salinisation in southwestern Australia

University of Western Australia (2007)

River response to land clearing and landscape salinisation in southwestern Australia

Callow, John Nikolaus

Titre : River response to land clearing and landscape salinisation in southwestern Australia

Auteur : Callow, John Nikolaus

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy PhD 2007

Université de soutenance : University of Western Australia

Land clearing is known to increase runoff, and in many dryland landscapes is also associated with rising saline watertables, causing increased stream salinity and degrading riparian vegetation. The limited understanding of how river morphology responds to these changes and the potential for vegetation-based strategies to offer river management options under these conditions, has prompted this research. In southwestern Australia the severity of salinity and recent nature of land clearing provides an appropriate setting to investigate river response. A data-based, multidisciplinary methodology was applied to determine how land clearing and landscape salinisation has altered landscape sensitivity through changes in erosive potential, system connectivity and material threshold mechanisms, and how these affect patterns of river response. The study investigated the responses of morphologically similar reaches across fifty two study sites in the Kent River and Dalyup River catchments, in the south coastal rivers region of Western Australia. Land clearing was found to have significantly altered the hydrologic regime and erosive potential in both frequency and magnitude, with flow becoming more perennial, and increased annual discharge, flood peaks and bankfull flow frequency. While sediment transport rates have also increased since land clearing, they remain low on a global scale. Human response to a reduced rainfall regime and related water security pressures has caused large hillslope areas to be decoupled from the main channels by bank and farm dam construction, and have reduced downstream transmission of change. ... By contrast, steeper-sloped mid-catchment areas with minimal vegetation degradation caused by salinity are associated with higher erosive potential. A more erosive response is observed in these reaches where floodplains have been cleared for agricultural purposes. A conceptual model of vegetation growth across the salinity gradient observed in the study catchments was developed, and applied to selected river styles to assess the potential that vegetation-based strategies offer for river management. This work identifies the unsuitability of river restoration strategies, but the potential for river restoration or remediation in a saline landscape. Hydraulic modelling demonstrated that river rehabilitation strategies such as improving the vegetation condition of the riparian buffer using native or commercial species on areas elevated above saline flow can stabilise reaches. For river styles in wide and flat valleys, there is limited potential for vegetation-based river rehabilitation under the current salinity gradient. Field observation and modelling suggest that river remediation may offer geomorphic management options in salt-affected reaches through channelisation to lower watertables, and further research on this is warranted. This work found a consistent response for river styles across the two study catchments. Based on the understanding of river response and the potential for vegetation-based river management for each style, this research offers a regional-scale tool for river management in a saline landscape.

Mots clés : Clearing of land — Western Australia — South-west • Stream salinity — Western Australia — South-west • Geomorphology — Western Australia — South-west • Salinity — Western Australia — South-west • Land degradation — Western Australia — South-west

Présentation (National Library of Australia)

Page publiée le 12 septembre 2007, mise à jour le 30 mai 2017