Assessing land use in the SWIRC is about measuring the potential degree of disturbance in a catchment from land use and associated infrastructure.
This is about targeting the overarching pressures on rivers – those with the potential to influence all other SWIRC themes.
For example, a change in land use may involve clearing fringing vegetation and can affect water quality and aquatic animals through increased runoff of sediments, nutrients and other contaminants.
Under the SWIRC, impacts of different land uses are weighted according to their varying influences on river health, and considering how recently land use changes occurred.
Varying land use practices within a land use type can make a considerable difference to pressures placed on river ecosystems, and we consider this when interpreting the condition of rivers.