News | 25th Oct, 2012

Murray-Darling basin damage minimal: study

Thursday, 25 October 2012

DAMAGE to farmlands and nature reserves will be minimal under environmental flows proposed in the Murray-Darling Basin plan, a study has found.

Scientists from the University of NSW say the planned flows are designed to mimic natural flooding processes and could improve ecological health.

"We found that, even with widespread flooding, most of the areas affected are floodplain areas, which are primarily used for grazing livestock," the study's lead author Professor Richard Kingsford said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Usually these landholders welcome floods as they rejuvenate floodplains and provide increased benefits."

Using satellite imagery, researchers examined the maximum flooding in the Basin area.

It found that only 4.77 per cent of wetland area encroached on irrigation areas, and only 5.44 per cent occurred in protected areas.

Most of flooded area in the Basin was made up of other land uses – 52.64 per cent of which was for grazing.

"These figures … clearly show that environmental flows are unlikely to have widespread impacts on agriculture across the Murray-Darling Basin," Prof Kingsford said.

He added that the flows were critically important to agriculture because they provided good water quality and healthy rivers, among other benefits for grazing communities.

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