Eutrophication is one of the major environmental issues facing Australia. Responses to this issue include short-term management strategies principally focusing on operational activities, and long-term strategies focusing on nutrient reduction, flow management, education, monitoring and research. Because nutrients were found to be largely derived from rural areas, community education and involvement of land holders formed a central element of the longer-term strategies. The voluntary and co-operative approach adopted was considered to be more effective than a regulatory or coercive approach in improving diffuse phosphorus source management. Research was particularly necessary because of a relatively poor Australian knowledge base, and the need to rely on overseas understandings and management experiences. Australia has a number of environmental characteristics - episodic rainfall and runoff, higher year-round temperatures, old shallow soils and higher river turbidity - to suggest that research into the causes and management of eutrophication under Australian conditions is necessary. Historical reports suggest that some of these factors may make Australian waters naturally susceptible to eutrophication. The National Eutrophication Management Program was established to fund, co-ordinate and communicate research activities. Preliminary research findings suggest that the accepted northern hemisphere eutrophication paradigm does not always fit.

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