In June 2014, the Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group Ltd. acquired the Environmental Water Trust and in 2015, The Nature Conservancy Ltd partnered with the Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group Ltd. to further develop the Trust.
What we do:
The Environmental Water Trust aims to facilitate investment in the long-term health of Australia’s rivers and wetlands. It provides a crucial non-government vehicle for river and wetland conservation, just as the land trusts have done for the terrestrial estate. It does this by securing water donations that are used to deliver water to ecologically important wetland and floodplain sites. Annual planning ensures that this water is used in the most strategic and effective way.
The Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group Ltd. brings you Riverspace, a place to talk about the stories of this vital work. We hope you enjoy reading about some of the many projects and collaborations across the Murray-Darling Basin of Australia where government and community are working together for the benefit of all.
Why is this so important?
Many of Australia’s freshwater systems and river basins are in crisis, driven by engineering, over-allocation of water and the impacts of climate change. Run-off into rivers, creeks and wetlands has been significantly modified and, in some areas, reduced to unsustainable levels. River red gums are dying because they no longer get the water they need. Our native fish populations have crashed to. Waterbird numbers are declining, and many colonies of waterbirds do not breed as often as they used to because there is less flooding, which impacts their breeding habitat. Increasing blackwater events, due to changed hydrology, can have devastating impacts on fish and crustaceans.
Alternatively, healthy water systems with more natural flow regimes can support an abundance of plant and animal life as well as increase nature’s resilience to the impacts of climate change and other stresses to our waterways.
Managing freshwater for a range of competing uses is complex, however our freshwater systems need more support. The Environmental Water Trust provides a way to draw on private resources to invest in water for our environment and our future.
The Trust has established a Scientific and Cultural Advisory Committee. The Chair is Professor Richard Kingsford. Professor Kingsford is the Director of the Centre for Ecosystem Science, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of NSW. He has focused his research over about the last 20 years on the waterbirds, wetlands and rivers of arid Australia, which cover about 70% of the continent. He has identified the significant impacts of water resource development on the rivers and wetlands of the Murray-Darling Basin and contributed to policy development and environmental flow management.
Other committee members are:
Darren Perry is a most esteemed Ngintait man, who has contributed very significantly to justice with regard to Aboriginal water rights in the Murray-Darling Basin. Through his efforts over many years, in concert with other Traditional Owners associated with the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations Group, Darren has offered strong leadership and been essential to the success of recognising Aboriginal rights to Country in Victoria.
Dr Anne Jensen, an environmental consultant with a passionate interest in sustainable management of our natural resources, particularly the River Murray and wetland environments. Her experience ranges across government policy, private not-for-profit conservation, academic research and environmental consulting services for a range of clients. Anne is particularly interested in communicating science to a broad audience, using photographs and stories to explain issues around water and protecting natural ecosystems in terms that are understood by the wider community, so that we can manage our environment sustainably for our common future.
The objectives of the Trust are solely to support environmental purposes and in particular:
a) to protect and enhance the natural water resources of Australia which includes protecting, enhancing and restoring water sources, their associated ecosystems, ecological processes and biological diversity throughout Australia;
b) to provide information or education, or to carry on research, about the natural water resources of Australia;
c) to apply for, acquire, manage, hold or dispose of Water Access Licences (WAL) as the Trustee determines for these purposes;
d) to establish and maintain a public fund to be called the Environmental Water Fund which will operate as set out in the Trust Deed for the specific purpose of supporting the environmental purposes of the Trust;
e) to support or establish any charitable institution or charitable object anywhere in Australia which the Trustee in its absolute discretion considers to be consistent with these purposes;
f) to invite members of the public to make gifts of money, Water Access Licences or other rights and property to the Environmental Water Fund for these purposes; and
g) to do anything else incidental or conducive to those matters.