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Australian Rivers Institute special lecture 2012

River health and environmental flow in China was the topic of this year's special annual lecture in memory of Professor Peter Cullen.

On 31st October the Australian Rivers Institute (ARI) held its annual lecture in a series of special lectures dedicated to the memory of the visionary environmental scientist, Professor Peter Cullen, AO, FTSE. The lectures provide a forum to bring together scientists and policy makers to discuss priority knowledge needs for underpinning the sustainable management of our water resources.

Proudly hosted by Griffith University and the International WaterCentre, this year's topic was chosen to celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and China. It included an expert panel discussing the issues and key achievements of "River Health and Environmental Flow in China", a project under the Australia-China Environment Development Partnership.

Ninety people attended the lecture, including Professor Cullen's wife, Reverend Vicky Cullen, and Mr Cao Zhouhua, Consul of Technology, People's Republic of China, Brisbane.

The speakers for this lecture were Mr Robert Speed, Independent Consultant; Dr Chris Gippel, Director, Fluvial Systems Pty Ltd and Adjunct Senior Research Fellow with the Australian Rivers Institute; and Dr Nick Bond, Senior Research Fellow with the Australian Rivers Institute. 

"One of the main aims of this assessment project is to assist management actions and facilitate policy change," Dr Bond said, speaking on recent findings and future opportunities in river health assessment in China. "However, the technical wheel is spinning much faster than the policy wheel."

Dr Gippel, speaking on environmental flow assessment and management in China, said that unlike most mainstream river health methodologies, the Chinese place a high value on the social uses of rivers, such as food production. Social indicators were included in the Yellow River assessment.


More information

For more information on the speakers and their topics, visit:

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River Health and Environmental Flow project

The River Health and Environmental Flow project established methods for assessing and improving river health and environmental flows in Chinese rivers. It was part of the Australia-China Environment Development Partnership, a five-year program of the Australian and Chinese Governments, funded by AusAID. The project was undertaken in conjunction with the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Environmental Protection.

ACEDP mapPilot studies were completed in three river basins: 

Detailed river health and environmental flow assessments were completed in the three pilot rivers. Based on this work, a recommended environmental flow regime was identified for each river and a river health report card was prepared. The results were used to make national recommendations, including draft guidelines for river health assessment and a national environmental flows framework.

The project developed a method for assessing river health based on changes to hydrology. A software tool – Flow Health – can be downloaded and used to automatically undertake the assessment. 

Significant training activities were also carried out to improve the capacity of Chinese water managers in the fields of river health and environmental flow assessment.


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