Enhancing the resilience of urban rivers: informing the regional restoration of the Djarlgaroo Beeliar (Canning River, Perth)

Project start date: 01/03/2023
Project end date: 31/12/2026
NESP funding: $800,000 (GST-exclusive)

Creating resilient urban rivers that protect biodiversity requires strategic landscape-level prioritisation, targeted on-ground actions and appropriate monitoring of future outcomes. This project seeks to achieve this using the Djarlgarro Beeliar (Canning River, Western Australia) as a case study. It will build on research from the first phase of the National Environmental Science Program and work collaboratively with key stakeholders, including Whadjuk Noongar Traditional Owners, to help implement and evaluate the Australian Government’s Urban Rivers and Catchments Program.Canning River
The Canning River is an urban river. Photo: Caroline Canham.

In urban spaces, restoration efforts targeted towards freshwater systems largely rely on short-term grants that are directed toward revegetation. The local government agencies and natural resource management (NRM) and community groups that do this work are limited by jurisdictional boundaries and aren’t funded to determine which areas to prioritise for restoration at a landscape scale. These groups are also not resourced to evaluate the success or failure of previous restoration activities, limiting capacity to learn and improve. Landscape-scale knowledge combined with an assessment of previous restoration efforts is needed to know which sites should be prioritised and which actions taken to maximise return on investment. Information gathered can also be used to identify appropriate indicators to guide future monitoring.

This project will inform the implementation and evaluation of restoration work, including the $10 million committed by the Australian Government towards the ecological repair of sites along the Djarlgarro Beeliar. We’ll provide maps and decision-support tools to guide where to protect, where to restore, what best to do at each site and how to monitor to evaluate success. Our case study on the Djarlgarro Beeliar will provide outcomes useful to urban-restoration activities more broadly, including the Australian Government’s Urban Rivers and Catchments Program.

Key research areas

To address these challenges and equip restoration groups with information to protect, manage and restore urban rivers, this project is:

  • assessing current condition of the Canning​
  • identifying priority areas to protect, manage or restore​
  • evaluating past restoration actions​
  • recommending what to do at priority sites ​
  • recommending what and how to monitor.
  • The Canning River is an urban river. Photo: Caroline Canham. 
  • The Djarlgaroo Beeliar (Canning River) is an urban river that flows through Perth's south-eastern suburbs before joining the Swan River. Image: Resilient Landscapes Hub.