Demonstration Reach Guide
A detailed resource for community engagement.

This guide provides an overview of the demonstration reach model, the specific steps involved in what we consider of the four pillars of establishment, as well as case studies, further reading, and links to relevant websites and organisations
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Many waterways and wetlands in Australia have become severely degraded following European settlement. While many rehabilitation programs have been initiated in recent decades, general community awareness of the plight of our aquatic ecosystems remains limited. We know, however, that people identify with fish, and demonstration reaches use them as a “hook” to harness interest and gain community participation in broad river rehabilitation programs.  

A demonstration reach is a reach of river or area of wetland where different management interventions are used to rehabilitate habitat for native fish and provide multiple benefits to the health of the river and wider community. It is a coordinated approach to native fish rehabilitation on a large scale. The model has been trialed successfully at seven sites in the Murray-Darling Basin over a ten year period.

Why create a demonstration reach guide?

The first demonstration reach was established in 2005, and seven have been formed across the Basin. Ten years of experience has indicated demonstration reaches provide an effective model for river rehabilitation and community engagement. Valuable insights have been gained into what is needed for successful creation and implementation of demonstration reaches, the challenges that exist and how best to address these. While each site and community is different, there are commonalities.

This guide has been developed in response to growing interest in the demonstration reach concept and to river rehabilitation in general. It is intended as a resource to guide anyone from community groups, natural resource management groups or catchment management authorities, through to government agencies. The demonstration reach concept is designed to actively engage all stakeholders in management actions, this means the guide has relevance to anyone interested in rehabilitating rivers and their native fish populations. The guide consists of four parts or ‘pillars’ we believe are needed to approach demonstration reaches effectively.  

Pillar 1:
Community Involvement
  • Identify the target audience
  • Establish infrastructure and governance
  • Identify key engagement objectives and messages
  • Identify engagement tools and actions
Pillar 2:
  • Site selection
  • Establish a vision
  • Whole of life plan
  • Communications and engagement plan
  • Monitoring and evaluation plan – Ecological
  • Monitoring and evaluation plan – Communication
  • Funding
Pillar 3:
On-ground Intervention
  • In-stream habitat
  • Riparian rehabilitation
  • Water quality
  • Environmental flows
  • Fish passage
  • Screening of irrigation offtakes
  • Alien species management
  • Fish stocking
Pillar 4: 
  • Adaptive management
  • Ecological monitoring
  • Monitoring community engagement
  • Demonstration reach results
Download The Guide
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