River rehabilitation framed within a recovery-enhancement approach uses an understanding of river morphology, behavior and trajectory as a basis for improving river condition. On-ground rehabilitation activities commonly involve strategic passive interventions, such as vegetation plantings, targeted weed management and livestock exclusion. However, in addition to the biophysical processes that are driving river recovery, human processes can also enhance or constrain possibilities for recovery. These include direct interactions (e.g. land use change) and indirect interactions (e.g. institutional conditions and relational issues). This paper examines relationships between human and physical (geomorphic) processes in river recovery through the lens of sociogeomorphology, which recognises that physical and social processes are simultaneously produced by – and producing – rivers, with on-ground implications for river recovery. River recovery in a southeast Australian case study is placed in its context of historical and contemporary human-environment interactions, including formal and informal relationships that shape river recovery trajectories. Recognition of relationships between human and physical processes, through a sociogeomorphic perspective, leads to an integrative understanding of the river system, its history and potential future trajectories of river recovery. For river management planning, this presents an opportunity to recognise and act on opportunities and challenges in river rehabilitation in order to support the best possible outcomes for river health and the ecosystems they support.
Simon Mould is a third-year PhD student researching the concept of geomorphic river recovery as a physical-and-social process. His primary interests are in improving connections between science, practitioners and communities, and in creative approaches to science communication.