Different monitoring methods are used to assess progress toward TLM icon site ecological objectives. These include River Murray system-scale, icon site condition, intervention and compliance monitoring. The Living Murray Outcomes Evaluation Framework (MDBC 2007) outlines the rationale for these monitoring methods and are summarised below.
Icon site condition monitoring plans must be written for each icon site and are the responsibility of the Icon Site Manager. A condition monitoring plan for the Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth icon site was completed in February 2009 (see SA MDB NRM Board 2009 and the Condition Monitoring Plan).
River Murray system-scale, intervention and compliance monitoring projects are implemented across icon site programs and are coordinated by the MDBA TLM monitoring program. Specific monitoring plans for each icon site are known as Icon Site Condition Monitoring Plans.
5.1 River Murray system-scale monitoring
River Murray system-scale monitoring and evaluation measures improvements across the River Murray system ecological health in relation to fish, waterbirds and vegetation. Conducted annually, this monitoring focuses on the system’s ecological health.
Condition monitoring assesses the icon site condition in relation to the ecological objectives at each site. It is typically conducted on a medium frequency basis (months to years) depending on the rate of change. Condition monitoring includes standard methodologies for monitoring fish, birds and vegetation, as well as icon site specific methods for monitoring other ecological objectives (see Condition Monitoring Plan). These monitoring activities have been classified into three categories A, B and O:
‘A’ category monitoring activities are undertaken at all icon sites using agreed standardised methodologies. These are:
• waterbird condition monitoring using a standard on-ground method to link with the annual aerial waterbird survey
• tree condition monitoring for river red gum and black box using on-ground assessments linked to remote-sensing data.
‘B’ category contains icon site-specific monitoring using locally appropriate methods. This monitoring responds to unique icon site characteristics and is less easily standardised.
‘O’ category uses icon site monitoring related to objectives and is less easily linked to First Step Decision ecological objectives.
5.2.1 Implementation of Icon Site Condition Monitoring Program
Progress towards the achievement of the identified LLCMM ecological objectives and targets will be monitored on an annual basis by a range of contractors who are the experts in their field. These service providers include SARDI Aquatic Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Flinders University and Coorong Nature Tours. The Icon Site Manager is then responsible for compiling all information into an annual Condition Monitoring Report for the MDBA, which details progress against each objective and target.
Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority and State government agency staff meet regularly to coordinate research and monitoring activities at the icon site. The LLCMM Icon Site Indigenous Facilitator sits on this group, known as the CLLMM Research and Monitoring Working Group, along with staff of the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority’s Yarulwar-Ruwe program, and DEWNR.
The respective components of the current LLCMM condition monitoring program, delivered by the above-listed contractors, and their relationship to the three condition monitoring categories is presented in Table .
Table : Individual Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth condition monitoring programs, and their relationship to A, B and O categories of monitoring