Our methods

Healthy Rivers assessments use the South West Index of River Condition (the SWIRC, or the index), a toolkit developed by the department to provide an integrated assessment of river health for south-west WA.

The index incorporates standardised methods for collecting field and desktop data, and a suite of indicators designed to both describe and interpret river condition.

It is designed to:

  • identify important ecological values and threats to these values
  • provide outputs that are easy to interpret (for example, using indicators that respond predictably to impacts caused by humans)
  • work at time and space scales that are appropriate for management
  • be cost-effective, easily replicated and scientifically defensible.

The SWIRC is appropriate for common applications including:

  • establishing baseline condition
  • evaluating effectiveness of management actions
  • assessing impacts from various land uses or stream alterations
  • understanding ecological requirements and prioritising investment into protection or restoration.

It can be tailored to meet different objectives based on the data collected and the analysis carried out.

It is reported under seven ecological themes for easy interpretation of results. Follow the links below and in the graphic provided for an explanation of each theme.

South West Index of River Condition themes

Click on one of the themes below to learn more about the importance of that theme for the health of our rivers, and how the information is collected and analysed.

Method development and review

The SWIRC was developed in consultation with experts from across Australia and follows the principles of the National framework for the assessment of river and wetland health, to allow comparable reporting of river condition at the national level.

It is constantly being reviewed to ensure it is relevant for current conditions and able to capture key values, identify critical threats, and detect response to stress (in time to intervene).

The methods, which have benefits for resource management and environmental sustainability, have been recognised with both an Australian Business Award and an award from the Australian Water Association.