ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

River Red Gum floristics and vegetation monitoring (2018-2019)


NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (was OEH), $199,700


Associate Professor Peter Spooner

Research theme

Biodiversity Conservation


Murray Valley National Park is located east of Mathoura NSW, on the Edwards and Murray Rivers. This relatively new National Park was once managed as a forest, and possess important biodiversity values. Due to past management history, high density stands of Eucalyptus camaldulensis (river red gum) trees have developed in areas of the park and caused conservation concerns.

An ecological tree thinning experiment has been implemented within the park by NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) in conjunction with ILWS (lead Associate Professor Peter Spooner).

The main aims of the research are to determine whether any of the prescribed levels of ecological tree thinning positively affect forest stand characteristics (new tree recruitment, as well as overall vegetation composition and structure), and the development of individual mature trees.

Given ongoing river regulation and the likelihood of future droughts resulting from climate change, this long-term monitoring plan (scheduled to continue annually until 2022) is designed to include river flooding as an experimental factor.

ILWS has provided significant support to NSW OEH for the floristic and vegetation component of the monitoring program for a number of years now including:

In October 2018, in conjunction with staff from NSW OEH, a team of five botanists and ecologists, led by field project officer Dr Sophie Palfi, commenced further surveys. The monitoring involved floristic surveys and vegetation structural sampling of 198 plots, located throughout the park to ascertain vegetation conditions in relation to tree thinning. Due to hot seasonal conditions, irrigation releases flooded the forest earlier than normal, which caused minor flooding in some plots, preventing or limiting access until late January 2019. As a result of this flood event, and later extreme temperature conditions, the field survey schedule was adapted to best cope with the difficult environmental conditions.

In addition to the monitoring work, Honours student Renee Woodward (part-time) is investigating the short-term effects of ecological thinning and flooding on river red gum recruitment


The survey work and data collected by CSU underpins the ecological tree thinning trial, as reported in Annual Monitoring Reports by NSW OEH (now Department of Planning, Industry and Environment)

Further information can be found here:


The floristic and vegetation surveys provide important evidence on the use of ecological tree thinning as a management tool to improve biodiversity conditions in the park. The results will be used to advise and inform future management actions in the park by NSW Parks and Wildlife Service.

This project has been extended

River Red Gum floristic and vegetation surveys in Murray Valley National Park. Spooner, P. (2019-2020) Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Contract variation, $196,787. Project details


Associate Professor Peter Spooner email

July 2019