How Local River Rehabilitation is Strengthening Australia’s Ecosystems

Waterways play a key role in maintaining healthy ecosystems, however, environmental threats like fires are damaging these ‘biodiversity hotspots’, lowering water quality and harming wildlife. 

The Caterpillar Foundation recognizes that investing in natural infrastructure initiatives can help protect, restore and maintain the ecological and riverside communities that are susceptible to threats and natural disasters. 

The Murrumbidgee River, Australia’s third longest river and a major tributary of the Murray River, holds significant ecological value, with many threatened fish and plant species calling it home. It is also a part of Canberra’s drinking-water supply. In recent times, droughts, bushfires and subsequent high rainfall have caused high levels of sediment and ash to enter the waterway, smothering the river, drastically reducing water quality, and threatening native plants and wildlife, such as the iconic Platypus and the endangered Macquarie perch.

Founded on the premise of solving some of Australia’s biggest environmental challenges, Greening Australia is providing local communities with hope. With Caterpillar Foundation’s support, Greening Australia has partnered with the Australian River Restoration Centre to launch Recovering our Rivers, a project focusing on restoring parts of the Murrumbidgee River where the impacts of fire have left landowners grappling with massive erosion damage on their properties.

The project will address both the symptoms and causes of erosion, with works along the river, as well as higher up in the tributaries to prevent more sediment from entering the waterway. 

By working together with local landholders, the project will demonstrate that the community is not alone in facing the devastation the fires left behind. In addition to targeted erosion works, the Caterpillar Foundation’s investment will assist landholders to fence off gullies, creeks and rivers to protect plants from livestock grazing.

An exciting part of the project is installing some new ‘fish hotels’ for native fish, which will be placed in locations where we know these fish like to hang out.

Together, the Caterpillar Foundation, Greening Australia, the Australian River Restoration Centre, and local landholders, will restore and protect the natural values of the Murrumbidgee River. We hope that this timely investment will also boost community spirit and resolve to continue caring for this important waterway.  

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