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Title: More than just a good story: lessons learnt from oral histories of Australian rivers
Contributor(s): Boulton, Andrew J  (author); Berney, Peter (author); Panizzon, Debra L  (author)
Publication Date: 2005
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Abstract: Increasingly, oral histories are becoming accepted as a valid source of research data in river management in Australia, especially when formally validated and suitably structured. Their particular strength lies in the provision of information that long precedes formal agency or research institution records, often by four to six decades. Frequently, this information spans major events associated with river regulation or changes in land-use and illustrates the local community's perceptions of responses by the river to such alterations. We compared the information from three oral histories of the Brunswick River (north coastal NSW), the Gwydir River (northern inland NSW) and the Lachlan River (central inland NSW) to seek parallels in responses to changes in river flows or land use, focusing particularly on widespread perceptions about siltation and declines in fish stocks. Meta-analysis of these three oral histories illustrated that sedimentation of water holes and changes in riparian zone vegetation were considered the major causes of declines in native fish numbers. In the two inland rivers, the introduction of carp (Cyprinu5 carpio) was also identified as a serious impact. Many interviewees were able to recall their first experiences with carp, associating changes in river flows with the abundance of these fish. On the other hand, land clearance was seen as the major problem in the coastal river. Interestingly, during some interviews, attitudinal changes in perception of river management and threatening processes emerged. The questions seemed to provoke recognition of management issues by the people being interviewed and this unexpected spin-off revealed how the process of data collection for oral histories may be directly educational. Not only is oral historical information ephemeral and should be collected urgently, there are lessons for the entire community that can be derived from more than just a good story.
Publication Type: Conference Publication
Conference Name: 4th Australian Stream Management Conference: Linking Rivers to Landscapes, Launceston, Australia, 19th - 22nd October, 2004
Conference Details: 4th Australian Stream Management Conference: Linking Rivers to Landscapes, Launceston, Australia, 19th - 22nd October, 2004
Source of Publication: Proceedings of the 4th Australian Stream Management Conference: Linking Rivers to Landscapes, p. 108-113
Publisher: Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment
Place of Publication: Hobart, Australia
Field of Research (FOR): 060204 Freshwater Ecology
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 960506 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: E1 Refereed Scholarly Conference Publication
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Appears in Collections:Conference Publication
The National Centre of Science, Information and Communication Technology, and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia (SiMERR)

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