Passive management is a way of increasing the values and services of an aquatic ecosystem by allowing the processes and components at the site to reach an equilibrium state without intervention. For example, trees in the riparian zone naturally die or get blown over. Rather than removing the fallen trees they can be allowed to remain in the channel to be moved around by the river flows into a pattern dictated by the channel form. This is not a “do nothing” option, as monitoring is required.
The advantage of passive management is that it requires relatively low investment. However, the cost of monitoring should not be omitted when considering this as an option. It is essential to make sure that objectives are being achieved and that negative impacts are acceptable. If a risk is perceived, such as initial high rates of deposition infilling pools at a site where fish habitat is the objective, then intervention may be required. Risks will only be identified by a comprehensive monitoring program.
The passive management approach can frequently take longer to reach an objective than using intervention. It should not be assumed that leaving the river to adjust without intervention will mean that it will return to its natural state or a desired state. The conditions at the site or in the catchments may have changed, meaning that a return to previous conditions, without further intervention is no longer possible. For example, an upstream reservoir may have been installed and that has altered the sediment and flow regime.
Potential benefits from this intervention:
Potential negative implications from this intervention:
Stout, J.C., Rutherfurd, I.D., Grove, J., Webb, A.J., Kitchingman, A., Tonkin, Z. and Lyon, J., 2018. Passive recovery of wood loads in rivers. Water Resources Research, 54(11), pp.8828-8846.
Australian Government natural resource management monitoring, evaluation, reporting and improvement (MERI) program
Last updated: 10 June 2022
This page should be cited as:
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2022) Passive management, WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 February 2023. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/management/rehabilitation/rehab-process/step-4/intervention-options/passive-management-mod.html