Rivers are the perfect place for a range of recreational activities, including fishing, swimming, canoeing, boating, walking, picnicking, dog-walking, bird-watching, and wildlife-spotting.
Australians are so lucky to have a relaxed lifestyle where we can enjoy a range of recreational activities along our beautiful river systems. But if we don't look after our rivers and we damage them during these activities, then future generations will not be able to fish, boat or swim in the river. Nobody wants to visit a river that is ugly, smelly and polluted. No one wants to see litter lining the shores, or even worse, a row of dead fish that have been killed by polluted waters.
But simply by taking a bit more care in and around the river, the harmful effects can be reduced and people can continue to enjoy a healthy river for many years to come.
Issues and Impacts:
Issues and impacts that result from recreation on and along the river include:
Along the riverbank
- If fishing regulations are not followed and people take more fish than is allowed, the population of native fish species can be depleted. This is especially a problem when young fish are taken before they can breed successfully.
- Riverbanks can be damaged if too many people dig for worms (used as bait) in the same area. People can also carelessly trample vegetation as they make their way to a secret fishing spot.
- Picnickers and bushwalkers can cause injury or even death to animals with their litter if they do not dispose of their rubbish thoughtfully. For example, birds can become tangled in fishing line and plastic wrapping.
- Barbecues and campfires (if not used properly) can increase the risk of bushfire, which can cause extensive damage to native flora and fauna.
- Pets such as dogs can chase, stress and even kill native fauna if allowed to run free. Their waste can also pollute the waters if left uncollected (or it can end up on someone else's shoes - they will not be happy!)
- People feeding native wildlife such as birds can be very harmful, as processed food such as bread is not part of a natural diet for these animals, and it is interfering with the balance of the food web, as well as potentially causing a type of poisoning in birds known as avian botulism.
- The planting of non-native species in parklands can lead to weed invasion and upset natural balances in the ecosystem. Water runoff from riverside parks can contain excess nutrients if they are over-fertilised, possibly leading to eutrophication.
In the water
- Spilled fuel and oil from boats can cause pollution, affecting the quality of the water and potentially harming the plants and animals that rely on clean water.
- Boats going too fast can cause bank erosion and sedimentation as the waves from behind the boat stirs up the water and carves into the riverbank.
There are so many things you can do to help our rivers. Go to the 'How You Can Help' section to find out more.