16 – Making a living from the Macquarie Marshes – coping with decisions upstream 149 government decision-making, environmental degradation, partnerships and how to influence decisions to improve the sustainability of the Macquarie Marshes. It is clear that diverting water for irrigation started slowly in the Macquarie River but then rapidly developed, with devastating consequences for the Marshes and our livelihoods. This decision was made predominantly by the New South Wales Government and its water agency in particular, influenced by landholders wishing to diversify into irrigation and often supported by local government. The large dams were the cause and continue to affect the river and its sustainability. Landholders in the Macquarie Marshes have had to cope with this upstream decision and its consequences. We have come together and demanded change, sustained by our passion for the sustainability of our river, the Macquarie Marshes and our livelihoods. We who live in the Macquarie Marshes have learnt much and can teach others. When people talk about ‘a little bit of irrigation’, this can mean a small pump of a few centimetres, but the pumps can then increase to metres in diameter. Once they start, they won’t stop. Be careful who you trust. Be wary of consultants and experts that can be bought. Don’t leave anything to hearsay collect all the current data you can now before development starts. But also remember that there are equally many to be trusted who are primarily committed to public good ideals and environmental sustainability. References Bino G, Steinfeld C, Kingsford RT (2014) Maximizing colonial waterbirds’ breeding events using identified ecological thresholds and environmental flow management. Ecological Applications 24, 142–157. doi:10.1890/13-0202.1 Bino G, Sisson SA, Kingsford RT, Thomas RF, Bowen S (2015) Developing state and transition models of floodplain vegetation dynamics as a tool for conservation decision-making: a case study of the Macquarie Marshes Ramsar wetland. Journal of Applied Ecology 52, 654–664. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12410 Catelotti K, Kingsford RT, Bino G, Bacon P (2015) Inundation requirements for persistence and recovery of river red gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) in semi-arid Australia. Biological Conservation 184, 346–356. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2015.02.014 CSIRO (2008) ‘Water availability in the Macquarie-Castlereagh. A report to the Australian Government from the CSIRO Murray-Darling Basin Sustainable Yields Project’. CSIRO, Canberra. Johnson WJ (2005) Adaptive management of a complex social-ecological system: the regulated Macquarie River in south-eastern Australia. Masters of Resource Science thesis. The University of New England, Australia. Kingsford RT (1999) Counting the costs on wetlands of taking water from our rivers: the Macquarie Marshes as a test case. In Preserving Rural Australia. (Eds AI Robertson & R Watts) pp. 125–143. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne. Kingsford RT, Auld KM (2005) Waterbird breeding and environmental flow management in the Macquarie Marshes, arid Australia. River Research and Applications 21, 187–200. doi:10.1002/ rra.840 Kingsford RT, Thomas RF (1995) The Macquarie Marshes and its waterbirds in arid Australia: a 50-year history of decline. Environmental Management 19, 867–878. doi:10.1007/BF02471938 Murray-Darling Basin Authority (2012) Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Murray-Darling Basin Authority, https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2012L02240. Murray-Darling Basin Authority (2016a) Basin Plan Amendments. Northern Basin Review. Murray- Darling Basin Authority, Canberra, http://www.mdba.gov.au/sites/default/files/pubs/773-BP- amendments-nbr-snapshot-24%20Feb.pdf.
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