The Murraylands and Riverland region (see map) extends from where the River Murray crosses the border into South Australia, through the northern Mallee to the foot of the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges; from the Rangelands in the north to the southern Mallee and Murray Mouth in the south. The region covers approximately 53,780 square kilometres. The following local councils areas are included within the Murraylands and Riverland region:
- Southern Mallee District Council
- Renmark Paringa Council
- Coorong District Council
- District Council of Loxton Waikerie
- The Rural City of Murray Bridge
- Berri Barmera Council
- District Council of Karoonda East Murray
- Mid Murray Council
There are also areas of unincorporated land around the Riverland and within the pastoral area.
The region forms the south-western portion of the Murray-Darling catchment into which the River Murray flows. The River Murray supports highly productive horticultural industries as well as supplying the majority of the water needs for the city of Adelaide and many other towns in the state. The natural resources of the Murraylands and Riverland region also support tourism, recreation and manufacturing. The region is one of the most productive agricultural areas in South Australia.
Much of the land in the region is used for primary production, including pastoral lands, dryland cropping, grazing, horticulture, irrigation and dairy farming. Within the region, there are ecosystems that are of state, national and international significance, including the Ramsar-listed Chowilla Floodplain, the Coorong and Lower Lakes.
The region has a rich and diverse history of volunteering in landscape and environmental management, with a wide range of active groups undertaking action to look after their local landscapes. Groups include Landcare and Local Action Planning Groups, land management groups, wetland groups, sustainable production groups and catchment groups.
The region includes the lands and waters of a number of Traditional Owner groups including Ngarrindjeri, the First Peoples of the River Murray and Mallee Region, Peramangk, Ngadjuri, and Wilyakali.
Native species in the region
The region is also home to a diverse range of native plants and animals, many of them under threat:
- 95 species of native mammal, of which 45 are under threat
- 110 species of native reptiles, of which two are endangered and five are vulnerable
- 13 species of native frogs, with the Southern bell frog considered nationally vulnerable
- 31 species of native freshwater fish, with four listed as threatened
- 3 species of threatened native estuarine fish.
Threats in the region
The major threats to the natural resources in the region are:
- the impact of introduced pest plant and animals
- the continued fragmentation and decline of remnant native ecosystems
- ongoing land degradation processes such as dry land salinity and soil acidity
- the allocation, capture and non-licensed taking of water resources beyond sustainable limits
- altered flows within river systems
- declining water quality due to increasing salinity, nutrients and pollution
- inappropriate development practices
- risks associated with a warmer, drier region under climate change predictions
- unintended degradation due to a lack of broad community understanding of many natural resources processes and best management practices.