A catchment health monitoring program for the Clarence Catchment

About the Ecohealth program

Ecohealth is an aquatic monitoring program that measures how healthy our rivers are for the plants and animals that live in them.

EcoHealth logoIt looks at key environmental indicators:

Water quality

  • Riverbank vegetation  
  • Water bugs  
  • Fish (freshwater)
  • Plankton

It uses a traditional school report card format in presenting results, i.e. A = Excellent, B= Good, C=Fair, D=Poor, F = very poor.

Ecohealth does not report on human environmental health issues in the rivers, such as drinking water quality.

Over a 12 month period and using the combined resources of Council, Office of Environment and Heritage, Local Land Services, Department of Primary Industries and the University of New England, (also Kyogle, Coffs, Guyra, Tenterfield and Bellingen councils) we collected data from 88 sites in 37 individual river systems in the Clarence catchment.

What we found out

Overall the Clarence catchment received a C+ (fair +)

Some key findings:

  • Elevated phosphorus, nitrogen and turbidity reduced scores in the freshwater sites.  
  • Low dissolved oxygen, acid drainage and high nutrients reduced scores in the estuary sites.  
  • Freshwater fish communities were in excellent conditions – both in terms of diversity and total biomass. 
  • Riverbank vegetation was poor – mainly because there is little of it and what is there often has low diversity and/or contains many weeds.

Collage of Clarence River images

What are we doing

Council, in partnership with landholders, state agencies, NGOs and funding bodies have been actively undertaking restoration projects.

The focus has been:  

  • Wetland restoration  
  • Weed control  
  • Improved drain management  
  • Riverbank management

A recent project has seen 90 property owners along the riverbank between Grafton and Maclean undertake over 57ha of weed control and plant 1000 trees to improve the condition of the riverbank.


We can all undertake activities to improve our Ecohealth rating

For rural landholders:  

  • Improve your riverbank condition through weed control, stock exclusion and tree planting
  • Take steps to prevent soil and nutrients from entering the river

For those living in town centres:

  • Compost your lawn clippings  
  • Be careful of what goes down the stormwater drains
  • Join a local Landcare group

Report Cards and Technical Report

If you would like further information on individual catchments or rivers please follow the links below:


Other Websites