A NSW Government website

Monitoring changes in surface water environments

River styles in NSW

A consistent method to characterise the types of rivers.

Rivers are diverse in their physical character and behaviour. Different types of rivers have different processes and sensitivity to change. To manage rivers effectively, we need to understand the existing geomorphic condition of the river, its inherent fragility (sensitivity to change) and likelihood of recovery. This all requires a consistent method to characterise the types of rivers we are working with and how they function.

River Styles logo

River styles framework

The River Styles Framework is a system for understanding and managing rivers in all their diverse geomorphic characteristics and behaviours. Developed at Macquarie University, the framework is a method for classifying river character, behaviour, condition and recovery potential. It has been used extensively in Australia and overseas to categorise river types and describe river behaviour. The NSW River Styles Database uses the River Styles Framework.

NSW Waratah and Macquarie University logo

NSW River styles database

The department and Macquarie University have together developed the State-wide NSW River Styles Database. The database is the largest and most comprehensive dataset of geomorphic river character and condition available in Australia. It serves as a decision support tool for integrated river management.

The NSW River Styles Database captures information for more than 220,000 km of river reaches across NSW. The database provides a consistent and data-rich platform for the development of river management tools, systems and strategies at state-wide, regional and local/catchment levels. You can view NSW River Styles information using our mapping tool.

Users can access information about the type, geomorphic stream condition, recovery potential and geomorphic priority for river management of rivers in NSW. This data can be integrated into decision support systems to help prioritise and plan river management programs.

River styles mapping tool.


More information about the database and framework, and how the database helps to support and improve river management in NSW can be found in the NSW River Styles spatial dataset companion document

Download the report (PDF. 1,700KB)