Riparian management in Victoria before the 1990s largely meant planting willows. Since then, particularly after the formation of catchment management authorities (CMAs) in 1997, the emphasis has been on using revegetation, weed management, fencing and off-stream stock watering to maintain or improve the condition of riparian areas. The program has resulted in several waterways being more than 80% fenced and protected.
Strong policy and funding have underpinned the Victorian Riparian Management Program. The Victorian Waterway Management Strategy (2013) and its predecessors provided policy and strategic direction for how riparian management was implemented – from the general framework such as how nine CMAs deliver the program by working with landholders in voluntary partnerships, to resolving operational issues and obstacles to the implementation of on-ground riparian work. Examples of the latter include the development of controlled grazing guidelines, information about fire on riparian land, and policy changes that make it easier for farmers who fence to get access to stock water. Improvements to the licensing of Victoria’s Crown water frontages have also been a key component of the program.
A dedicated plan - the Regional Riparian Action Plan - was released in 2015. It is a high priority for state government with over $40 million allocated to its implementation for five years. It outlines policies and actions for the future of riparian management in Victoria.
Although undertaken in Victoria, the lessons learnt from riparian management in the state are transferrable and far reaching, well-beyond jurisdictional boundaries.