Modelling Lake Shore Vegetation in Lake Victoria, NSW

Lake Victoria, located in the Lower Murray sub-catchment of the Murray–Darling Basin, is enriched with a diverse cultural significance to the Maraura people, a sub-group of the Barkindji. The operation of Lake Victoria as a water storage has been implicated as the cause of shoreline erosion leading to exposure of many of these sites. The Lake is operated by South Australia Water Corporation under a Section 90 Consent and Section 87 Permission to Operate. These permits require that lake operations be designed to minimize any damage to the cultural heritage values of the lake. It is assumed in the Section 90 Consent that revegetation of lakeshores will stabilize sediments and hence protect cultural heritage values.

Spiny Sedge is the most abundant and extensive plant species on the shoreline of Lake Victoria. However, there are several other common species such as Common Reed, Common Couch, Rat’s-tail Couch, and Spiny Mudgrass. In order to facilitate an increase in vegetation cover and stabilise the lakeshore, a more detailed understanding of Spiny Sedge (and potentially of other species) biology and factors affecting growth is required.

This research will develop a predictive ecological model to quantify and predict the interaction between ecological processes of vegetation with hydrology, sedimentary processes, and anthropogenic activities in Lake Victoria. The functional model will be used to inform routine and scenario-planning operations at Lake Victoria. This will inform the lake operations to provide conditions for the continued expansion of this species and potentially others; and once established, what operations conditions are required to maintain vegetation cover. This understanding will be used by Murray Darling Basin Authority river operators to refine lake operations in the interest of cultural heritage protection.


Amali Dahanayake
PhD Candidate
Department of Infrastructure Engineering
Faculty of Engineering & IT
University of Melbourne