The Lake Eyre Basin Process won the International River Foundation Australian River Prize. A huge congratulations to everyone involved. Lake Eyre Basin, QLD, NT, NSW & SA (Lake Eyre Basin Partnership).
The Lake Eyre Basin (LEB) is one of the last naturally free-flowing river basins in the world, occupying a large part of semi-arid Australia (1.2 million km2) including parts of three states and one territory. Its diverse human communities and incredible cultural and natural values are underpinned by highly variable cross-border rivers (including Georgina and Diamantina Rivers and Cooper Creek) supporting a ‘boom-bust’ desert ecology.
In the mid-1990s, the threat of water resource development galvanised communities and governments to protect these magnificent rivers, flowing freely over hundreds of kilometres to the iconic Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre. Community concern catalysed the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement, focusing state, territory and federal governments on the overarching goal of cross-border protection of river flows and catchments.
This produced a transforming governance framework which united communities, governments and other players. It was realised through creation of an intergovernmental Ministerial Forum, its supportive agencies, the multi-stakeholder Community Advisory Committee and the multi-disciplinary Scientific Advisory Panel. Together with community driven catchment management groups and regional natural resource management bodies, this enduring partnership has built a shared vision and identity for Australia’s unique, natural, desert river system: healthy environments, sustainable industries, vibrant communities and adaptive cultures.
Key achievements include sustained, constructive community engagement in a cooperative framework; collaboration for research and management focusing on values, monitoring and adaptive management; and communications to connect communities over a large part of the continent. This two-decade partnership kept LEB rivers healthy, compared with arid zone rivers globally, particularly the Murray-Darling Basin rivers.
This river system is internationally significant and should continue to be protected into the future.