The function of riparian zone vegetation and river banks in South Africa, are under constant threat of anthropogenic activities such as mining and agricultural practices along riverine areas. The degradation of such vegetation and the collapse or removal of river banks has a profound wide spread and long term effect on the riverine environment (Zainudin et al. 2013). Initiatives such as Working for Water (WfW) has taken up the challenge to actively restore degraded and disturbed riverine environments in order to restore the quality and availability of water in South African catchment areas (Palmer et al. 2005; Holmes et al. 2008).
Conservation and restoration of riparian and river bank environments and ecosystems has become a hot topic worldwide since the 1990’s. Ever since the realization of the importance of conserving and restoring such environments, a significant spike in the U.S. Southwest have also lead to active implementation of riverine restorative initiatives (Follstad Shah et al. 2007). The Environmental Quality Act 1974 and The National Forestry Act 1984 have also been implemented with a fair amount of seriousness in Malaysia where, in significant cases, perpetrators are penalised with one year of jail time to account for their acts towards the environment (Zainudin et al. 2013).
Within the mining industry, a certain amount of concern has been invoked by the landowners abutting mining initiatives. These concerns largely regard the mismanagement of follow-up site inspections by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Resources. Without the necessary and consistent regulation and inspection of the applicable state departments, mining licence holders seizes the opportunity to generate greater income. This however usually results in a disregard to regulations and remedial measures stipulated by the Environmental Management Plan for the proposed or implemented mining venture. This eventually involves breaching of buffer zones and the destruction of riparian zones.
This project deals with one such case where historic illegal and unregulated mining lead to the destruction of the riparian zone and the subsequently collapse of the upper eastern embankment of the Colora River. Recent legalised mining activity along the river has also lead to further destruction of the riverine environment downstream. To gain a better understanding of riparian and riverine functioning and restoration, applicable literature regarding the following aspects must be consulted:
(i) stabilization of embankments;
(ii) removal of river banks;
(iii) reconstruction of river banks;
(iv) natural sediment deposition in riverine systems;
(v) natural rehabilitation of riparian vegetation;
(vi) management of alien invasive vegetation;
(vii) rehabilitation of Thicket;
(viii) river health;
(ix) and the creation of new flow paths.
During the early nineties the Namoi River, located near Boggabri in north-western New South...