A comprehensive suite of modelling tools for adaptively managing environmental water, developed over two decades of cooperative research centre R&D, is discussed in relation to various facets of this task. The suite of tools can help managers undertaking qualitative analyses to frame environmental problems and solutions. 1) Work with the community to build a conceptual model of rivers and associated values—species, habitat, amenity, health etc. 2) Work with scientists, managers and other experts to create a sister conceptual model linking flow and other possible environmental drivers to the target species/health/environmental assets. 3) Carry out a systematic analysis of the literature to transform this into a defensible and effective evidence-based conceptual model, to serve as a focus for management. Perform various quantitative analyses to design environmental flow regimes. 4) Capture the numerical relationships between river flow and ecological responses (e.g. species abundance, amount of hydraulic habitat). 5) Design a flow regime for a site that satisfies as many environmental flow requirements as possible for the least volume of flow. 6) Design a decision support system (DSS), e.g. plug this flow regime into models used by managers/engineers to plan and operate river systems, or create a DSS for managing a wetland complex that links inflows to areas flooded to ecological responses. 7) Explore trade-offs between environmental, social and economic objectives. Then, once management actions have been performed, 8) monitor/predict their effects. A key feature of this suite of tools is it allows for managers to build and re-use a knowledge base.
Environmental flows, modelling tools, evidence-based, restoration, aquatic ecology.