4.6 What can a Demonstration Reach demonstrate?
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Curriculum Alignment

14, 19

Years K-6: Science and Technology, HSIE
Years 7-10: Geography, Science, Technics 
Years 11-12: Geography, Earth and Environmental Science, Society and Culture

SOSE, Science, Geography 

Futures, Interdependence, Thinking

Science, Thinking Processes, Geography

>Students will learn the fundamental principals and goals of a Demonstration Reach project

3 hours

Materials required
>Access to Internet for investigating existing Demonstration Reach projects (hyperlink available on Sustaining River Life cd and web versions)

Conceptual diagram of a typical Demonstration Reach

Information sign at the Katfish Demonstration Reach near Berri in South Australia. Photograph: Bill Phillips
Information sign at the Katfish Demonstration Reach near Berri in South Australia. Photograph: Bill Phillips

This lesson will work best as a re-enforcing activity for the preceding (and following) lessons in this education package. 

A Demonstration Reach is intended to show by example the need for river rehabilitation to address the full range of issues threatening river health and native fish communities in particular. It should demonstrate the benefits achieved by integrated programs of work at the one large scale site (see Introduction). 

The successful rehabilitation of a river reach improves community awareness and support, provides visible examples of ecological rehabilitation, focuses the attention of funding agencies and boosts scientific knowledge of rivers and fish. These key outcomes will underpin the success of the Native Fish Strategy of the Murray-Darling Basin (see Introduction). 

A Demonstration Reach provides a coordinated attempt to concurrently address the rehabilitation of the local fish community and environmental degradation issues of an individual river reach. 

Many rehabilitation programs are already underway across the Murray-Darling Basin, and others are imminent or proposed (see our web site for details and links to these)

The existing Demonstration Reach programs include actions addressing the issues of:

>environmental flows
>river bank and floodplain rehabilitation
>fishway construction and the removal of some barriers to fish migration
>alleviation of cold water pollution below dams (see Module 4.4 addressing this issue)
>resnagging to improve fish habitats
>the control of pest species such as carp.

Studies have shown that the full range of factors preventing native fish community recovery in an area must be addressed for substantial rehabilitation to succeed. For example, there is little value in providing environmental flows if cold-water pollution prevents native fish from breeding, growing and migrating. Carp control will be of limited value if dams and weirs continue to prevent native fish from recolonising habitats. 

Also, the scale (excuse the pun!) of the actions taken must be appropriate. Fish communities respond over large geographical and time scales. Therefore, demonstration reaches need to be of a substantial size with rehabilitation actions occurring over at least a 10-year period. 

The key component of a Demonstration Reach project is in engaging the public through compelling examples of river and fish community rehabilitation. This will often involve collaboration between a number of different groups, organisations and individuals.

Cold water pollution

Lesson plan
1. Have the students research existing Demonstration Reach projects via the links provided on the Sustaining Living Rivers web site.

2. Have the students summarise for the class the primary problems and issues that their chosen Demonstration Reach was set up to address.

Make sure they give
reasons why fixing these
problems will help the native
fish and other wildlife.

3. For each Demonstration Reach reviewed, list on the board the activities being done to address the problems identified above. 
This might include things like: 

>increasing environmental flows 
>controlling erosion to improve water quality
>revegetation of degraded areas along the river
>construction of a fishway on a weir or dam
>controlling carp
>removing weeds
>fencing stock away from the waterway.

4. Break students into pairs to focus on one of the actions being proposed at a Demonstration Reach, and to research the costs and benefits.

5. Have each pair make a five minute presentation about that action, what it involves in terms of time and money as well as the environmental pays-offs.

6. As each pair reports to the class write on the board all the actions being taken and then finish the lesson discussing how some of these help to reinforce one another. Which ones are the natural partners? Which ones aren’t worth doing without doing one or more of the others?

7. If there is a Demonstration Reach near your school, contact the local coordinator to invite him or her to come along to be involved and help out with this lesson.

Have students create a newsletter outlining the projects going on within their chosen Demonstration Reach.

Secondary pathway
Focussing on a nearby river reach, have the students plan a possible Demonstration Reach project. Describe the problems, threats, and actions needed. Consider how you will get landholders, government agencies and the community interested and involved.

Invite the coordinator of a nearby Demonstration Reach project (if there is one), or your local Catchment Management Authority (or similar body), to visit the class to hear their ideas and offer suggestions.

A little tip, don't make
your proposed Demonstration
Reach too big. Keep it to a few
kilometers or less. The bigger
they are the more complex
the issues become.

Narrabri Creek in northern NSW showing resnagging works completed as part of the Namoi River Demonstration Reach project. Photograph: Milly Hobson I&I NSW
Narrabri Creek in northern NSW showing resnagging works completed as part of the Namoi River Demonstration Reach project. Photograph: Milly Hobson I&I NSW