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Alignment training (timber pile fields)

Alignment training (timber pile fields) requires combined vegetation management and physical intervention. It involves the placement of wooden pile field structures to redirect high velocity flow away from a riverbank with the aim of reducing riverbank erosion and encouraging deposition at the bank toe. Revegetation is used to stabilise deposited sediments and increase hydraulic roughness, further reducing velocities at the bank.

Plan view and cross-sectional diagram of a typical  pile field arrangement. Image by Queensland Government

Alignment training (timber pile fields) requires combined vegetation management and physical intervention. This strategy should be focused on a long-term goal of vegetation establishment, eventually making the engineered structure redundant.

Potential benefits from this intervention:

  • Timber pile fields allow for some channel adjustment.
  • Deposition of sediments, organic matter, seed propagules and establishment of vegetation.
  • Use of biodegradable materials.
  • Timber pile fields provide aquatic fauna habitat through physical and hydraulic diversity.

Potential negative implication from this intervention:

  • Disturbance during construction, including vegetation removal and heavy machinery within rivers.
  • Timber pile fields do not provide immediate stabilisation and may not halt ongoing bank movement.
  • Timber pile fields may interfere with recreational activities.

Intervention considerations:

  • Seek appropriate specialist advice and check legal obligations (e.g. permits).
  • Not appropriate for fine grained (silty) systems.
  • Confirm that the erosion processes are the result of high velocity flows directed at the riverbank.
  • Evaluate the direction and rate of channel migration to see if it lends itself to redirection of flow (seek expert advice).
  • Determine if other infrastructure is threatened and whether it could more efficiently be moved rather than protected.
  • Consider the design life required from the structural component and whether vegetation can establish adequately in this timeframe.
  • Alignment training may create less disturbance than hard engineering solutions, particularly where bank battering has not taken place.
  • Safety of volunteers and employees including seasonal exposures (e.g. heat) and high risk areas (e.g. crocodile presence in waterways or areas with soil contaminant risks). 

Additional information


Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE). 2007. Technical Guidelines for Waterway Management, Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria.

Last updated: 9 June 2022

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, Queensland (2022) Alignment training (timber pile fields), WetlandInfo website, accessed 18 March 2024. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment, Science and Innovation