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The Herbert River, Queensland, Tropical Australia: Community Perception and River Management

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There is a widespread perception amongst the community of Ingham and surrounding areas that the Herbert River in tropical Queensland has aggraded since the time of European settlement. Yet this perception is not supported by such evidence as historical accounts of the river and river trade, changes at the Ingham gauging station since 1940 and comparison of channel cross-sections surveyed since 1968. No reason has been identified for this divergence, but experience elsewhere teaches us that ignoring local perception is likely to result in an incomplete understanding of environmental issues. Unless the challenge of reconciling popular perception and deductive interpretation of the evidence is met, the potential for conflict will remain. Community proposals for strategies will struggle for support from the ‘rationalists’ and the community will oppose ‘rational’ strategies if they are not seen to be addressing the ‘real’ problems.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Centre for Environmental Applied Hydrology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia.

Publication date: 1999-11-01

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